Condo Considerations

by : Preston Guyton

So you're thinking of buying a condo? Owning a condo is a different world than owning a house, and comes with a whole different set of expectations and responsibilities. Maybe you're looking to find a vacation property, get out of the suburbs or get away from some of the chores that come with a traditional house - whatever the reason, you'll want to weigh the pros and cons of condo ownership before you make that final purchase.

It's easy to list all the benefits of condo living, so let's save those for last, as the saving goes. Let's think drawbacks: first and foremost, purchasing a condo means purchasing the condo - that's it. No yard, no land, no roof even (well, no individual roof anyway). Just the box itself. Now many people see this as a bonus. Who needs the headache of dragging out the lawn mower every weekend, or having to think about your gutters now that fall is setting in? Hey - I hear you, I'm just saying, it may be an issue for some people.

If you were used to the freedom of home ownership you may be a little taken aback by the fees and rules that come with a condo. Although, if you're a former house owner, you may welcome the idea of having a set fee schedule instead of sudden surprises (additional expenses may come up from time to time, but these are usually shared between the units unless it's your fault). Also, having rules (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) means you don't have to worry about your neighbor deciding to decorate with old appliances instead of patio furniture. Just be sure you are clear on your financial commitment and that you can live with the the particular rules in your development.

Where it can get a little sticky is the shared walls. I mean, this all depends on your neighbors. I wouldn't advocate moving in next to an amateur tuba enthusiast, for instance, but today's condos often address sound-proofing. Obviously you want to spend some time in the building you are thinking about living in. It may be worthwhile to make the effort to knock at the suite next door to get a feel for the 'hood. And if all else fails you can make use of the rules (see the point above).

As a unit owner you are automatically a member of your condo association. Condo associations deal with disputes between unit owners (you and the tuba player for instance) and enforce the bylaws, as well as taking care of maintenance and repairs. You may need to get permission from the association before renting or renovating your condo. Because the condo association also has an elected board, you can get involved in the governance of your development, if that's your kind of thing.

Well, if you aren't still aren't sold on a condo here's the upside: location, location... oh, you've heard this before? Many of today's hottest developments are centrally located, in the middle of the action. Want to walk to the beach, the office, the golf course? There's a condo for that. Throw in added amenities that are common selling points in many developments (fitness facilities, hot tubs, multimedia rooms, etc) and your life has become even more convenient. It's all at your finger tips, with added security and a smaller price tag than your average home.

So put down your rake and your snow shovel and open the door to a new way of life. If you are looking for fewer responsibilities, or just a great vacation spot, condo living could be your solution.