The 5 Disadvantages of Condominium Ownership

By: Nef Cortez

In the past condominiums were not necessarily considered to be a good
investment for a variety of reasons, however that image has since
changed dramatically. With the high price of single family homes,
condominiums and townhouses are becoming more attractive to many
buyers such as singles, retiring couples that are downsizing and small
families that would like to purchase in excellent school districts.
However, for those home buyers that have only considered a single
family home as the definition of homeownership they may not be
familiar with what options are available in the form of condominiums.

Condominiums are buildings in which individuals separately own the air
space inside the interior walls, floors and ceilings of their unit,
but they jointly own an interest in the common areas that they share
such as the land, lobby, hallways, swimming pool, grounds and parking
lot. While many condominiums are designed to look like apartments or
are built in high rise city buildings, more and more builders are
designing them where they can be referred to as townhouses.
Townhouses are usually attached to one or more houses and can run the
gamut from duplexes and triplexes to communities with hundreds of

In addition to paying a mortgage, each owner is responsible for paying
a monthly fee to the condo association, usually referred to as the
homeowner's association which is made up of the unit owners. The fee
covers maintenance, repairs, grounds keeping and building insurance.

In the past condominium ownership suffered with a negative image for a
variety of reasons, however that image has since changed dramatically.
Once the thorn in homeowner's sides, condominium associations have
worked hard in recent years to clean up their negative image where
disputes and lawsuits were once rampant. Homeowner's associations have
become savvier and much more professional about property management
and have taken steps to prevent legal problems and disputes before
they happen. However, there are some disadvantages that still need to
be considered before you buy.

1) Monthly Homeowner's Association Fee

If there is a homeowner's association, you will usually have to pay a
monthly maintenance fee that is separate from your mortgage payment.
Many condominium owners factor this expense as similar to the costs
they would have incurred for someone to do the lawn care and other
maintenance if they owned a single family home. However, you should
watch for unnecessarily high monthly charges and ask to see a copy of
the latest financial statement from the homeowner's association.

2) Less Privacy

There is also less privacy than with a detached single-family home.
Communal living is not always desirable for some people and the noise
level generated by living in close proximity to others can influence
some buyers to simply look elsewhere. Usually, the biggest concern is
about parking for the owners and for their guests. However, many
condominiums are being designed with their own garages and have common
parking areas available for guests.

3) CCR's Can be Very Restrictive

CCR's or Covenants, Codes and Restrictions are defined as the bylaws
that govern the use of the property. Most CCR's are reasonable, but
some can be very restrictive. There usually are limits on the type of
exterior changes or improvements you will be able to make to the
property. In addition, you may find, among other things, that they
prohibit or restrict pets and the renting or subletting of units.
Make sure that you get a copy of the CCRs and review them (they
usually have a summary booklet) before you decide to make an offer.

4) High Tenant Ratio

Also, make sure you find out the owner-to-tenant ratio. Because many
condominiums are often purchased as investments, there could be a high
percentage of tenants in the building. Although this trend is also
changing, especially in condominiums which are located in urban areas
where they provide convenient shopping, access to transportation and
other amenities thereby attracting owners who intend to live in their

5) Resale Value

In some real estate markets, such as Las Vegas and Florida, builders
have overbuilt condominiums and townhouses and they are being sold at
a loss. However, in other real estate markets they have held their
value as an investment despite economic downturns and problems with
some homeowner's associations.

While some of these factors would discourage some buyers from
purchasing condominiums, it may be just the right investment for
others because it suits their lifestyle. In spite of these
disadvantages, the high price of single-family homes in some real
estate markets such as California and the influx into the housing
market of more single homebuyers have made condos relatively hot
national investments. A professional realtor can assist and guide you
in showing you which are the great deals in your local market and

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