What Do I Need to Know About Buying a Condo?

by : Andrew Stratton

In some real estate markets today, it is very expensive to buy a detached single family home. What's more, many people do not want the responsibility and work associated with owning a home and surrounding land. A great solution to these problems in many cases is the purchase of a condominium. Condos allow people to be homeowners without many of the pricy drawbacks. There are several things to consider though before deciding whether a condo is the right choice for you.

First, take a look at the benefits of buying a condo. Condos are almost always more affordable than single family units. This is because you are essentially splitting a lot of the home-owning costs with your neighbors. Individually you own the space within your own walls, but collectively you own the exterior and common areas with all of the condominium residents.

Another benefit is that you never have to do another day of gardening or lawn-moving if you don't want to. Your condominium association will take care of the maintenance of the grounds and any building-wide repairs. Being a condo owner typically means a whole lot less work in terms of home maintenance and upkeep.

Buying a condo also means cheaper insurance premiums, although you will have to pay two separate accounts. Generally, your condominium association will require you to pay some money on the group insurance policy that covers the overall structure and amenities of the complex. Your individual policy will be much more affordable, however, than a single-family homeowner's would be. You will only have to insure the things and features within your own condominium housing in addition to getting liability insurance.

And as already mentioned, condos usually have several great common areas and amenities that you can take advantage of. These might include a pool, hot tub, tennis courts, a club house, and other recreational areas. Because of the fees you pay, you get full access to these features and they are maintained by the association.

There are some potential disadvantages to buying a condo instead of a single family home though. One such drawback is the fees for the condominium association. With a house, you can escape such extra charges if you don't buy in a homeowners' association area. The fee charged by condominiums generally increase over time to compensate for inflation, but they can be subject to dramatic jumps depending other factors.

You may also miss the privacy that comes from living in your own detached home. In a condo, your neighbors are only separated from you by a few walls. Sounds and sometimes even smells from nearby units can make their way into your place.

On the flip side, there are also lots of rules that you must abide by if you live in a condo. The association usually stipulates how loud you can be, what type of hours you can keep, what kind of pets you can have, and so forth. Condos definitely do not offer the same kind of personal freedom that a traditional house would.

Finally, a condo is often harder to sell than a single family home. Condos are much more susceptible to market fluctuations and in a slow market, the sales are usually even slower.

Obviously a condo purchase is not for every one, but it is the right choice for many. Be sure to really hammer out your own preferences before making the decision to go with a condo.