Considering Condo Living

Condominiums can provide an affordable living experience with pleasant amenities and benefits. However, some people will tell you they love condo life and others wish they had chosen a house instead. If you are thinking about purchasing a condo, carefully evaluate what goes into owning one.

By definition, a condominium is a shared property with individual owners of the units or condos. There are benefits and drawbacks that you will want to consider. Keep in mind that every condominium has its own set of rules and requirements, so be prepared to research your complex before making a decision.

Pros

A condo generally costs less than a house. That means you have a lower down payment as well as a lower monthly mortgage payment.

You are not responsible for exterior maintenance or upkeep. This is a big plus for many condo dwellers who don’t want to take care of a yard, garden or exterior paint and repairs.

Condominiums usually have amenities for you to enjoy. They can include pools, exercise rooms, tennis courts, jogging trails, pet areas or a golf course. Homeowners usually have to drive to find similar facilities, while condo owners have them immediately at hand.

There is often a strong feeling of community within a condominium neighborhood. Living in close proximity to many other people makes it easier to get acquainted and make friends. Condos frequently tend to attract people of specific age groups with similar interests making a social life easier.

Cons

In addition to your mortgage, you’ll be responsible for your association dues. Depending on the condominium’s size and amenities, dues can be a small fee or several hundred dollars each month. Know what the fees are before you decide to buy and know what they cover. Maintenance and insurance are commonly covered, but other expenses can include lawn maintenance and landscaping, snow removal, trash pickup, water, sewer and road repairs. Ask if any extra assessments for big maintenance projects are planned. If the roof needs to be replaced, for example, there could be a boost to the regular monthly fee for a year or more.

Review the condo association rules. This could be a lengthy list of requirements, such as where you or your guests can park, whether you can have a pet or what kind of pets are allowed or if there are enforced “quiet hours” during the nighttime. If you have a difficult neighbor, these rules will be a help. Just make sure they are rules you can live with all the time.

Living in close proximity to other people belongs on the plus side, but it can also present problems, especially if you prefer not to be among a crowd. Hopefully, you can find a condo community where privacy and rules are respected.

Condos usually do not appreciate as quickly as a single family residence would. You want to know if the condominium in question is well funded and well managed. If a large number of residents struggle with their monthly payment, money may be tight for regular maintenance and if the place has a run-down appearance, resale will be more difficult.

Buying Tips

Make sure you look for a real estate agent who is experienced in buying and selling condos. There are differences in purchasing a condo versus a house – different contingencies, possible additional contracts – and you’ll want to be guided by an agent with the right expertise.

Condo living may be perfect for you depending on your time of life. Perhaps you are a first-time buyer, or an empty-nester, or you’re downsizing for retirement. Begin by deciding whether the condo’s style and requirements are right for you.

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