What Responsibilities Do I Have as a Home vs. Condo Owner?

Real Estate Agent with Liberty Homes RS-#62825

There are some who would prefer to purchase a single family home and some who would prefer a condo or townhouse and the luxury of a low maintenance or no yard . No matter which kind of property you purchase you have responsibilities as a homeowner.

The biggest difference in owning a single family dwelling or a condo is that the single family home is TOTALLY your responsibility for fixing any part of the home that is in disrepair or needs attention. (i.e. leaky roof, wood rot, termite damage) and in a condo/townhouse unit many of these costs are included in your maintenance fees.....except the inside of your unit. Here are other differences:

  • Homeowners insurance:  Your single family dwelling needs full coverage for all parts of the home and your maintenance fees for the condo/townhouse may take care of the roof, outside of the dwelling, parking lot and the bulk of the homeowners insurance.  You will however need to purchase condo insurance for the INSIDE of the unit and it just a bit more than the cost of renter's insurance.
  • Water and Sewer:  There are some condo/townhouse complexes that include the water/sewer and in some cases even the electric utilities in the maintenance fees. In a single family dwelling it's ALL YOUR OWN COSTS.  Take into consideration your usage for a family your size.
  • PRIVACY:  Your single family dwelling will likely have more privacy than a condo/townhouse because there are no attached walls. Even if your home is just a few feet away from the neighbor you still have that privacy of not hearing the neighbors through the walls. There could be the difference of barking dogs and noisy neighbors as well.
  • PETS, Satellite Dishes and Alterations:  Condo /Townhouse Associations have strict rules and guidelines  and it is best that you check out the House (Association) Rules before you commit. Some may only allow one dog (25 lbs and under) and others may not allow any dog at all. They may or may not allow satellite dishes and may not allow to extend that living room.
  • Painting:  Your single family home may be in an Association as well so check before painting your home. Mililani Town Association has strict rules and the colors that you're allowed to use for painting the outside of your home. Townhouses/Condos paint the complex and part of your maintenance fees.

Needless to say, there are many factors to consider in owning your own piece of paradise.  You as a homeowner are responsible to upkeep your own home and take responsibility so you can enjoy your abode. You also need to be aware of how you affect your neighbors with your barking dog, loud music and so forth. 

These are also factors to consider before purchasing the home you'll be residing in for years to come.

Drive around the neighborhood during peak times when everyone is home.

You may just discover that it is the right home....and neighborhood for you.



Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman is a Realtor-Associate with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocating to Hawaii, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents. Website: www.hawaiihomesmarket.com


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Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


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Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Cindy Jones 01/11/2011 09:47 AM
  2. Ellie McIntire 01/11/2011 02:06 PM
  3. Kathleen Ann Pacheco-Corbett 01/12/2011 05:05 AM
Home Buying
Hawaii Honolulu County
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Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Hey Sally,

Great post and break down of home vs. condo responsibilities.  both have their perks and unwanted perks :) I personally love having my own home, you have the freedom to really make it your space :) Great post!

Jan 10, 2011 04:21 AM #1
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Good info.  The major difference to me is that if it's a single family home you are in charge of hiring and managing the repair.  Otherwise, the condo/town home association - collects your money (so you still pay for it), but the HOA management company or HOA group handle the hiring and management of the repair. 

I really strongly prefer the single family home for this reason, as some folks are not as careful about spending money or getting multiple bids.  

Also, we are so incredibly overbuilt in condo's and town homes here in Atlanta, it's a brutal sale and re sale market. Although, I can see how one could enjoy the lack of maintenance responsibility.  I just think it comes with a cost.

All the best, Michelle

Jan 10, 2011 04:47 AM #2
Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

A lot of people fail to realize that there are a lot of responsibilities and costs associated with ownership. They need to be financially ready and mentally committed for the maintenance.

Jan 10, 2011 05:59 AM #3
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Sis - Nice breakdown:) It's vital folks know what their Master Policy covers and doesn't cover when shopping for HOI (Condo Insurance).  It can mean all the difference in ensuring they aren't over or under-insured, but properly insured.

I'm an expert at HOI these days;)

Jan 10, 2011 06:10 AM #4
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Lil Bro...I totally agree.....We added on for 'additional' coverage for stuff.

Jan 10, 2011 11:14 AM #5
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Wonderful information Sally! There are so many things to consider when purchasing a new residence!

Jan 11, 2011 10:55 AM #6
Ellie McIntire
Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD
Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville

It is what makes our job interesting that each buyer has different needs. This is a great explanation of the differences.

Jan 11, 2011 01:52 PM #7
Kathleen Ann Pacheco-Corbett
(FIRST Exclusive Buyer's Office Providence-RI) - Providence, RI
Realtor, RI-MA, CEBA, Master, e-Pro, ABR, ABRM, GR

HI Celeste, Thought of you and your paradise as I encounter a New England blizzard, largest snowfall this winter. I don't think I will be going out too soon today.

I enjoyed your post since  I sell to many singles people and they seem to prefer the condo/townhouses since they need  to travel for business and fun and they do not have to worry about the grass needing to be mowed or the snow being shoveled while they are travel ling.

Jan 12, 2011 04:34 AM #8
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Sally--Important reminders for those who currently own a townhome as well as those considering buying!

Jan 12, 2011 01:20 PM #9
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

This is so important point that many home buyers are not clear on. If you buy a condo and it has some problems with roof, or a balcony, or windows~ most probably, asking a seller for repairs or credit~ will not bring you much result. Check carefully HOA documents, it will show you how much they spend on maintenance.

Aug 07, 2013 07:43 PM #10
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