Is it your first time buying a condo? If so, you need to be aware of how buying one differs from purchasing a house and who condos might be best for. It also pays to get a sense of what the benefits are. Check out our first-time condo buyer tips below to learn more!
How Buying a Condo Differs From Buying a House
Condos are different from houses in several respects:
- Neighborhood: Rather than being single and free-standing, condos are usually part of a condominium complex. Your condo may be attached to other condos or part of the same large building, like apartments. You should assess your privacy needs when buying a condo, as you might live closer to neighbors than homeowners do.
- Size: Because your condo may be closer to your neighbors, it often differs in its average size when compared to homes. While condos can be large, they tend to be smaller than the average-sized home.
- Ownership: Condo residents own their unit, but do not own anything external to it. The hallway outside your door and any lawn in front of the building, for example, isn’t owned by you. You do, however, own the area inside the unit. Homeowners, by contrast, own not only the area inside their home but the property outside it.
HOA’s & What You Should Know
For condo residents, the homeowners’ association, or HOA owns the outdoor property. The hallway and yard, after all, isn’t used by any one person, but by all the residents. Homeowners don’t usually have any association to which they belong, but some neighborhoods might have an HOA.
- HOA: As mentioned above, the HOA usually maintains the common areas. Any lawn and shrubbery, for example, is maintained by contractors hired by the HOA. If pipes burst during the winter and need to be repaired, it is usually done by HOA contractors. Homeowners, by contrast, must pay for all the maintenance and upkeep associated with their home and property.
HOAs are also responsible for rules and regulations concerning the condo. For example, they will set how long any swimming pool or tennis court is open. HOAs also establish garbage pickup and recycling centers. They are often responsible for parking rules and regulations too.
All condo owners must abide by HOA rules and regulations. Homeowners, by contrast, can set their own rules regarding their property, governed only by federal, state or local laws.
- Fees: Condo ownership also differs from owning a home in that most condo owners are required to pay a monthly fee to the HOA. These charges are for the upkeep and maintenance the HOA provides. They also go toward the smooth functioning of the condominium complex. Homeowners pay no HOA fees.
- Amenities: Another way condos differ from homes is that they often have amenities many homeowners couldn’t afford on their own or wouldn’t even have the space for. Condo complexes often have swimming pools, tennis courts and fitness centers for residents.
Homeowners may have swimming pools, but it’s a rare house that has a tennis court! The combined assets of all condominium owners can often result in amenities far greater than a homeowner could have on their own.
These differences, from the involvement of the HOA to the amenities of condominiums, serve as points of consideration if you’re debating between purchasing a home or a condo.
Who May Want to Buy a Condo
Because condos are smaller and offer many amenities single homes can’t, they are ideal for two categories of buyers:
- Younger buyers: Since condos are smaller in size, they often cost less than single family homes. That makes them perfect for young people who may not have reached their peak earnings yet.
At the same time, they have many amenities that single people love, such as fitness centers. Also, condos are everywhere, with many near major highways and public transportation, making them ideal for commuters.
- Older buyers: Seniors, whose families have grown, may find their house too large for their current needs. The great amenities of condos are excellent for people nearing retirement. Many condos are also close to cities and shopping, making recreational activities convenient and pleasant for seniors.
While younger and older individuals are the most typical condo owners, many people in the middle of the spectrum also reside in condominiums and enjoy the lifestyle and convenience offered.
What Are the Benefits of Condo Life
As a first-time condo buyer, there are several advantages. First, they tend to be cheaper and may be more affordable. Be aware that lenders will factor HOA fees into your overall payment, but even so, condos often have a smaller mortgage than a home.
Second, condo owners don’t have to do maintenance and upkeep. Anything from burst pipes in the winter to security is taken care of for the owners.
Third, potential condo owners can find a property that fits their lifestyle. Want birds chirping in the morning? Find a condo with rolling grounds and trees. Want to be a culture vulture on the weekends? Find one near public transportation or near a freeway to a major city. Love to swim or play tennis? Find one with these amenities on-site.
Owning a home or condo is a big step. That’s why understanding the value, as well as the differences between homes and condos, can help you choose if you want to purchase your first starter home or move into a nearby condo for its unique benefits.
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Hey! I'm Megan. I am a dog-lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Your Wild Home covers a lot of topics, including (but not limited to) home improvement, home decor, construction, real estate, and sustainability. I enjoy writing in third-person and I am addicted to chocolate, coffee, and terrible puns. Learn more on my About Me
First-Time Condo Buyer Tips
Are you a first-time condo buyer? If so, you need to be aware of how buying one differs from purchasing a house. Learn more here!
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