Should I Buy a Condo or a House?

by Kristina on September 18, 2015 · 3 comments

purchasing a property, house hunting, buying a home

If you’re thinking of buying a new home of your own you may be weighing the pros and cons of buying a condominium versus buying a house.  Let’s look at those pros and cons together and hopefully seeing all options in black and white will help you make the best decision.

If you buy a condo…

You’ll have a smaller space.  I guess this really depends on the square footage of both the house as well as the condo, but generally condos are smaller than a house.  Having a big house means more space that you need to clean and maintain.  A condo can definitely provide more than enough room for you and your spouse, but you have to be willing to pay for it.

Your neighbors will be in close range.  Unless your condo is built with sound proof walls you may hear your neighbors during all times of the day and night.  After living in an apartment for many years hearing and smelling the neighbors I can tell you that living in a condo is a very similar experience.

You will be a co-owner of the space.  With condos come condo fees.  This is an expense that homeowners do not need to worry about.  Condo fees cover the cost of maintenance, repairs and insurance of common areas such as hallways, the garage and the lobby of the building as well as the roof.

If you by a house…

There is more maintenance.  This all falls on your shoulders with a house.  There is no landlord to call when the roof starts leaking.  You either have to figure it out yourself or hire a handyman.  These are things that condo owners don’t have to worry about.  If your house has a lawn you will also be responsible for cutting the grass and shoveling the snow.  Two other things that condo owners don’t need to stress over.  On the flip side you have a lot of space to call your own.

There’s more room to move and grow.  Having your own space is definitely a luxury that not everyone can afford.  If you decide to start a family or get a pet you probably have room to do so in a house; in a condo pets may not even be permitted.  More space is nice, but it also means higher property taxes since this is based on your location as well as the size of your home.  Are you willing to pay for your own private space?

It may be the better investment.  Having a home gives you the option to live in neighborhoods both inside and outside of the city.  It’s a lot easier to make improvements to your home than it is a condo because you aren’t limited by the rules of your condo association.  The question to ask yourself when it comes to the value of the investment is, which will be more in demand when you want to sell?



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jason Hull, CFP September 23, 2015 at 1:51 pm

One of the biggest drawbacks that we saw with our condo was rising association fees. If you have to sell, or if you’re living there, then the condo association fee is something that you need to take into account in terms of the total monthly amount that you have to cover in your budget. There’s also the one-time assessments which would also torpedo your budget.

Another issue that we found in trying to sell our condo was that there are FHA minimums for owner-occupant ratios in a given community. It usually has to be at least 51% in order to get conventional FHA financing, and you can check your community here:

If you’re going to buy a condo, make sure that you really pore through the condo association documents so that you understand what you’re facing, as well as knowing what the owner-occupant ratio is (which, unfortunately, could change in the future).

2 Judith April 21, 2016 at 12:57 am

Thank you for sharing you fair great thoughts! For me, living in a condo is good for those singles only because of its limited space,condo has a small space so if you have children, its quite uncomfortable.A house is good for a family and you can do anything you want. But, In the end, the choice will always be yours.

3 Jasmine Vanasselt August 27, 2016 at 8:04 am

Great things to think about. I agree with Judith. Condos aren’t really spacious enough for families. They’re much more geared towards twenty-somethings and retirees.

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