Shopping around for a new home is an exciting and daunting time. As you comb through listings and compare amenities, you may be wondering about the differences between condos and houses. Condos offer a middle ground between houses and apartments that presents a range of modern conveniences. Single-family, detached homes — the traditional choice for many — come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Beyond the fact that you’ll owe a mortgage in either situation, condos do not share much in common with single-family houses. Let’s take a look at what sets condos apart from houses — and what factors you should consider as you take the plunge into homeownership.
Typically, the cost is cheaper for buying a condo versus buying a house — although the prices can vary widely depending upon the market and the area where you’re looking to buy. Make sure you also factor in the monthly or quarterly condo association fees — and what services they cover. When you own a house, you will likely pay for water, trash, and sewer services separately. Remember that a condo fee might cover those services.
The upkeep of a house’s interior can be more demanding. You may have to invest additional funds in remodeling certain rooms to suit your lifestyle. A condo comes equipped with modern, luxury features and floor plans. However, you’ll lack the space and freedom to grow that a house offers — and if you decide those tile countertops aren’t your style, you can’t do anything about it, per condo association rules.
Because you pay dues to a condo association, a condo relieves you of the obligation to do yard work, remove snow or mow your lawn, or foot the bill for maintenance repairs. A major expense for a repair would be shared equally among all owners of a condo. An owner of a single-family detached house might have to spend hours each week maintaining the outside appearance of the house and lawn.
Location and Amenities
Condos are typically located in urban and suburban areas, often within walking distance of restaurants, shopping, and cultural activities. Some condos, especially those located within a large condo neighborhood, will offer access to amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, and shared outdoor space. Houses, on the other hand, will offer far fewer amenities but provide more room for self-expression. You will be able to add a pool or tend a garden to your heart’s content — without incurring the wrath of the condo association. You may also need to drive further to access certain establishments, depending on your location.
Regardless of which option you choose, you will be interacting with neighbors — so consider whether you prefer a little distance from your closest cohabitants, or would enjoy a lot of social encounters. A single-family home offers some space and privacy from the next closest neighbor. A condo, conversely, packs you in with a slew of other condo dwellers, similar to an apartment situation. You’re more likely to run into your fellow condo neighbors, who might share common interests — as certain condo neighborhoods tend to attract similar demographics, such as young professionals or older, retired couples.
A monthly condo association fee, when added on top of a mortgage payment, can be a major drawback for condos. You might also be stuck ponying up more than your share of the condo fees if some of your neighbors don’t pay up. Single-family houses come with their own set of additional costs, such as unexpected repairs — which you may have difficulty budgeting for in advance.
If you chafe at the thought of someone else dictating what kind of flowers you can display on your front porch, whether you can grill outside, or the type of pets you can have, steer clear of condos. Some condo associations impose very strict guidelines for their residents. When you purchase a single-family dwelling, you’ll have to abide by town or city ordinances or codes — but the requirements will be much more relaxed.
When the time comes to put your property on the market, you might find the house to be easier to sell than a condo. Here’s why: Because all condos in a neighborhood are the same as the others, there won’t be anything to differentiate yours from the rest. And if a nearby resident sells an identical unit, that could negatively affect the value of your own unit.
As you prepare to choose between buying a condo versus buying a house, make sure your credit report is in stellar shape for those mortgage applications. We can help you address any lingering credit issues and snag you a higher credit score. Get started with a free consultation at Ovation Credit.