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The Pros and Cons of Living in a Condominium

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31st Jul 2023

A condominium is a hybrid between an apartment and a house. A condo offers some of the similar aspects of living in an apartment. For example, many private houses are adjacent to others, so the owners often share a wall and live in close proximity. And if you live in a high-rise building, your apartment may be located above or below someone else's house.

A condo is a private residence owned by an individual homeowner or family in a building or community with multiple apartments or townhouses. Although they are usually part of a large high-rise building, separate condominiums also exist.

What all apartments have in common is that they share common areas such as yards, garages, tennis courts, swimming pools, lounges, or gyms with other apartments that condominium owners do not have to maintain themselves, which makes the housekeeping much easier.

Condominium developers differ in how they provide parking spaces and garages to apartment owners. In some developments, these spaces are reserved as restricted common areas, and the condominium association retains ownership but gives the apartment owner exclusive rights to use the space or garage. In other developments, the owner of the apartment buys a garage or parking space and takes ownership. However, covenants, conditions, and restrictions may still limit an owner's ability to sell or rent a property, regardless of the property itself.

The homeowners pay fees, usually made up of select condominium owners who deal with hiring landscapers, pool cleaners, and other professionals for everything from faulty elevators to gophers in common areas. This is how the homeowners association, or HOA, functions. Leaking pipes and plumbing and/or roof repairs fall into the more gray area, but generally, if it's outside your unit's walls, it's the board's responsibility to fix. A lot depends on how HOA accounting is organized, too - the better it is run, the more costs are available for house maintenance.

Will Living in a Condo Be an Option for You?

Condominiums are perfect for people who want to own a piece of property but don't want to worry about yard and maintenance. A condominium versus apartments is often an easy choice for retirees, young people without children, or those who would like to own property in more densely populated areas where detached single-family homes simply cost too much. You may also be looking for a desired convenience or service from a HOA or management company. There is also a bigger community to be found in a condo association compared to an apartment building.

If you talk to friends or family members who live in condominiums, you will quickly learn that many people love living in a condominium, while some people want to live away from their neighbors.

The Pros and Cons of Living in a Condo

Thinking about buying a condo apartment? Here are the main advantages - and some of the disadvantages that can affect the decision-making process.

Pro: You won't have a yard to mow or clear snow. This is the big attraction of owning a condominium. There will be no mowing because you will be paying fees to the condominium association which will take care of most of your maintenance needs.

Con: Having a manageable workload isn't always easy. Some condominiums are underfunded and don't have the money for regular maintenance. It is important to ask a lot of questions and make sure the association is doing well before buying a condominium and knowing how many condominiums the association manages. If a dozen members are slow to pay their dues every month and your community has 500 apartments, you are unlikely to feel it. However, if you live in a community of 10 condominiums and two people don't pay, that's 20% of the association's budget.

Pro: It's cheaper than buying a comparable home. The cost of a condominium compared to a house depends on the size of the house, the value of the property in the area, and the cost of living in the area. You generally spend less on condominiums, industry experts say, and single-family homes have historically been priced higher than condominiums.

However, while homes have been priced more expensive than condominiums for many years, research by an online marketing and information company found that median market prices for a condominium increased significantly. Meanwhile, prices for individual-family homes are rising a little slower.

Con: The price of a condo is not all you need to consider. You don't just have to think about mortgage payments. Don't forget to consider membership fees. You can shell out anywhere from $500 a month to over $5,000 depending on location and whether you want to look for a luxury or no-frills condominium community. However, these fees often go toward amenities such as 24/7 security or a top-notch gym or pool.

A lot of things can go wrong inside the home, such as plumbing problems, or the air conditioner or heating unit might break down, for example.

Also, keep in mind that apartments can be harder to sell than houses. You can brag to homebuyers about your spacious bedrooms or all the amenities in your condominium, but if many of your neighbors are also selling at the same time, there may not be much to distinguish your apartment from theirs.

Pro: There is a sense of community. Lots of people who own homes will say the same about their neighborhood, but remember that condominium owners tend to live in much closer relationships than many suburban homeowners, who often have relatively large areas that separate them.

Homeowners, as soon as they move into the garage, do not see their neighbors until the next day. When you live in a condominium, you see your neighbors in the elevator, by the pool, or in the living room and lobby. You will also meet your neighbors more often because many condominiums are in areas where interesting bars, restaurants, parks, etc. are within easy walking distance.

Con: You can't choose your neighbors. Some people like the social, and community aspect of living in a condominium, but there are also downsides. Even if you enjoy interacting with your neighbors, once you get into a condominium, you won't get along with everyone, so the downside is that you will bump into people you don’t like anyway.

An apartment complex is not a great idea for highly independent homeowners or renters who like their privacy and space and don't want anyone to tell them what they can and can't do with their property. This is because, in addition to collecting fees, the condominium board or HOA also enforces the rules and regulations that owners agree to abide by when purchasing their condominium. The board can adjust everything from the size and number of pets you allow to the number, and color of your townhouse exterior, and the age of the people living in your squad. For example, retirement condominiums may legally require all long-term residents to be over 55 years of age.

So if you're looking to buy a condominium, be sure to look into condominium association rules (called agreements, terms, and conditions, or CC&Rs) and additional costs such as HOA fees or association fees. Also, be sure to check all amenities before contacting a real estate agent or making a purchase.