Condos vs. Houses

Condos vs. Houses

What is best for you?

Houses and condominiums represent different lifestyles. Traditionally the real estate market was primarily driven by houses. Over the past few years we are starting to see this change. The demand for condos has risen, and as a result, new condo developments are abundant. There are two main styles of condos, each with their own benefits. Apartment style condos are for those who generally need less space and don’t mind the atmosphere of an apartment-style living situation. They generally either have underground, secure parking or outdoor parking available to the owners. Townhouse Condos are geared towards people who need a bit more space with a bit more privacy and perhaps a garage and a basement. You can also get a bungalow style townhouse condo which gives people one floor living.

Both types of ownership can be good investments, but freehold properties tend to go up in value faster than condos.  This is because buyers factor in the condo fee on their budget and as a result are only willing to pay less to get the property.  If the condo fees are rising fast, it can really limit future price appreciation.  Before closing on a condo, we order a Status Certificate which tells us all the rules and by-laws of the condo corp. as well as the latest financial statements including how much money is put away for future repairs and all the details on the condo fees.  Your purchase will be conditional upon your approval of the Status Certificate.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Condos and Houses

Houses

  • Private yard, garage, basement.
  • Maintenance outside is always required.
  • Not required to ask anyone if you want to paint your outside door or put on a new light or a new mailbox.
  • No condo fees.
  • You are responsible for all insurance costs.
  • You have total control (within the law) of what you can do to your property

Condos

  • Generally freedom to do what you wish inside (within the law and your condo agreement), but outside you normally need permission from the condo board for many changes and/or improvements.
  • Monthly condo fees that usually include water and sewage, and generally in the case of apartment style condos heat is also included (if it is hot water heat, watch out for electrical heat).
  • Exterior maintenance including snow removal and landscaping is taken care of by the condo association (from your monthly condo fees).
  • Insurance that covers the exterior and the building structure itself are part of your condo fees (but you will need your own personal insurance for the interior and personal affects, much like renters insurance).
  • Can generally lock the door and go away for the winter.

Condo Restrictions

Condos can often have restrictions put in place when the condo board was first setup or that have been voted on by everyone in the condo association.  These are all outlined in the Rules & By-laws.

Things to watch for are:

  • Pet restrictions (usually want only small animals),
  • Decorating restrictions,
  • Rental permission, etc.

Other key things to consider when looking at condos are:

  • Do they have enough money in the reserve fund to cover maintenance and other issues?
  • How do they pay for major improvements? (From reserves collected from monthly fees or from special individual/group assessments for small or large sums of money to put towards these improvements)
  • Are there any plans for future improvements?
  • What is the history of condo fee increases?
  • What is the state of the exterior and the common areas

Feel free to contact me at any time to learn more about the condo and house market, and I would be more than happy to provide additional information on the benefits of both.


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