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The Pros and Cons of Buying a Condo

Home Builder

If you’re in the market to buy a home, you have many options. Condos offer would-be homeowners the freedom of owning their residences without having to do tons of exterior maintenance. They’re the perfect solution for many who don’t want to drag out the lawnmower every sunny Saturday.

However, this style of homeownership isn’t for everybody. The downsides to condo ownership extend beyond not having space for your victory garden and can affect your living standards if you don’t do your research first. Here are the pros and cons of buying a condo.

1. Pay Less on Average Than for a Single-Family Home

Condos vary widely in price, with some luxury models far outstripping the cost of surrounding homes. However, you’ll pay less on average, making condos an attractive option for first-time homebuyers without much downpayment. You’ll also save over time, as you’ll pay less in insurance — single-family homes can cost three times more to cover.

Why is there a difference? When you own a condo, your ownership extends to your unit only, not the land on which it sits. That’s considered part of the community amenities where you enjoy partial ownership with everyone else in your complex. Your condo association fees depend on the total square footage of your unit as a percentage of the whole — if you take up 10% of the space, you pay 10% of the maintenance expense for landscaping.

2. Have to Toe the Line With the Rules 

The lower price convinces many first-time buyers to invest in a condo. However, this style of living isn’t the best choice for everyone. All associations have codes, covenants and restrictions by which individual homeowners must abide or risk severe consequences, including property loss. HOAs have the right to foreclose in many jurisdictions, as they are treated as a creditor with a lien.

Many homeowners have no problem, finding the guidelines favorable for maintaining their property value. However, tempers flare and sparks fly occasionally, such as when the association demands owners bring trash bins in from the curb by a particular hour. Those who work swing shifts can struggle with such restrictions, leading to conflict.

You’ll also have fewer personalization options. Most HOAs have strict guidelines governing exterior paint colors, even which plants you may use for landscaping. You can circumvent some issues by using containers, but you won’t be able to paint your shutters fuschia. However, many homeowners appreciate conformity as it helps maintain their property value over time.

3. Get Access to Multiple Amenities

Another benefit of condos is many such properties come with a world of amenities few single-family homeowners can afford independently. For example, many such neighborhoods feature swimming pools, extensive workout facilities, community parks and barbecue pits, covered parking spaces and security like gates and guards.

There are so many options from which to choose that you may get overwhelmed with decision fatigue. However, you might decide the security payoff is worth it. Knowing your kids play in a gated community can ease fears, especially if you’re a single parent who occasionally leaves responsible older children unsupervised.

4. Need to Pay for the Privilege 

What’s the downside of amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs and community recreation centers? They don’t come for free. Your right to enjoy these amenities is part and parcel of your association dues and the more bells and whistles your neighborhood has, the more you can expect to pay.

Your monthly fee might be just one of a few bills you see. HOAs sometimes conduct special assessments to fund specific emergency upgrades, such as repaving roads or cleaning up after a storm. Although you benefit from the improvements, receiving a surprise bill is never fun — be prepared.

5. Enjoy a Closer Relationship With Your Neighbors

Amenities like community recreation centers help you make friends as an adult by bringing you together with your neighbors. Many condo associations also host special neighborhood events like potlucks, where you can mix and mingle with others nearby. It’s the ideal ice-breaking situation for people with mild social anxiety who struggle to approach strangers.

6. Have to Share Walls or Ceilings

The downside of all that closeness is you must remain conscious of other people’s needs. You might get away with blasting “Sweet Home Alabama” all summer long if you live on a farm. However, your next-door condo neighbors might take umbrage.

Depending on your layout, you may have people living above you. Parents can’t do much about the pitter-patter of little feet, but the racket could drive you buggy if you’re child-free by choice and don’t find the noise endearing.

Deciding Whether to Buy a Condo

Condos offer multiple advantages to many homebuyers. They’re more affordable on average than single-family homes and can offer much more in terms of amenities. However, they aren’t without their flaws. Is a condo right for you? This list of pros and cons should help you decide.

Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello James and thank you for the great information to share with us here in the Rain.  Make it a  great week

Nov 21, 2022 10:22 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Great info. Thanks for sharing! 

Nov 21, 2022 11:22 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em: golfArizona@cox.net

Enjoyed your blog page, and I added you as a friend. I would love the follow back. Bill

Nov 21, 2022 11:29 AM