Considering buying a condominium? Be warned: owning a condominium is quite different from owning a single-family home and comes with its own particularities. Before you jump into the condo market with both feet, you should make sure that the condominium lifestyle is right for you.
The benefits and drawbacks of condo living need to be weighed against your own criteria. Is security more important to you than distance from your neighbors? Are you comfortable with community living? Here is a list of the basic pros and cons of condo living to help you make your decision.
|Location: There is often a high concentration of condominiums in downtown locations where land is at a premium. If you want to be in the heart of the city, a condominium may be a good choice.||“Box of air”: When you buy a condo, you do not own the land beneath the building, you simply share an interest in it. Instead, you own the space between the walls of your unit, and share ownership of the common areas with other owners.|
|Security: Having neighbors around makes it a lot easier to lock up and leave for a vacation or an extended period of time. Also, condominium buildings often have security features, be they buzzers or a guard service. This is particularly helpful if this is your second home, and you are only there for part of the year.||Community living: Shared walls and common areas mean that you are more likely to hear your neighbors or run into them more often. Also, as part of the homeowner’s association, you will have to coordinate with neighbors to come to decisions regarding the common areas.|
|Low maintenance: No more backaches from mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Condo living means someone else takes care of the plumbing problems or roof maintenance for you. There may be some cases – if it’s your fault – where you will have to pay.||Fees: Monthly condo fees go toward maintenance and repair of the common areas. There are occasionally additional assessment fees to handle larger repair jobs. Your fees may also be paying for amenities, such as a swimming pool, that you may not use.|
|Affordability: While condominiums have a wide price range, the lower range is often within the budget of first-time buyers and singles who may find single-family houses unaffordable.||Resale: Condominiums are more sensitive to trends in the real estate market than single-family homes. If the market takes a downturn, condos are usually the first to suffer and the last to recover.|
|Amenities: Most condominium developments offer a range of amenities in the common areas. This means that you may have access to a swimming pool, gym or tennis courts that you would not be able to afford on your own.||Rules: Condos are governed by a set of rules called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). This can include restrictions on noise levels, pet ownership, renovations, and even what kind of curtains you can put in your windows.|
|Condominium association: Every unit owner is a member of the condo association, which also has an elected board. The association serves to enforce bylaws, handles maintenance and repair issues, and deals with disputes with developers or between unit owners.||Condominium association: Because the condo association is made up of homeowners rather than property-management professionals, the association may be weak and inefficient. Also, if you want to make renovations to your unit or rent your unit out, you may have to get approval from the condo association.|