Thursday, May 30

So, You Want to Live in a Condo Community — Here’s What You Should Know

Apartment BuildingAs real estate trends continue to evolve, it seems as though more and more people are starting to prefer the carefree luxuries that often come with living in a quaint and peaceful condominium community as opposed to a traditional home or apartment. That being said, living in a condo certainly comes with a different set of expectations regarding expenses and amenities, and it’s critical to understand what condo owners can and can’t do before becoming one yourself. With that in mind, here are just a few pros and cons to be aware of before saying ‘yes’ to a condominium property.

PRO: Low-Maintenance

This is perhaps the biggest reason people make the shift from homeownership to condominium ownership: About 34% of recent buyers who purchased new homes were looking to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity, and in many cases, buying a condominium comes with a similar low-maintenance lifestyle. This is because your monthly HOA dues are designed to cover these types of maintenance expenses along with other services like landscaping/lawn mowing, snow removal, and more. This is particularly ideal for the 90% of Americans who think it’s important to have a yard that is well-maintained. Nonetheless, it’s essential to read your contract to understand exactly which maintenance services are included.

CON: Potentially limited renovation freedoms

While homeowners have total freedom to customize their property any way they choose, the same can’t be said about condo owners. Condos can be customized to some extent, but major renovations may be restricted or require prior authorization. For example, replacing standard windows with energy efficient windows and doors that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program lowers energy bills by 7% to 15%, but even sustainable upgrades may not be feasible under your condo community’s rules. Just one more reason why it’s imperative for all condo owner to read their contracts thoroughly.

PRO: In many cases, a condo property is more affordable than a house

It may seem surprising, but it’s true — in many areas, condo prices are lower than single-family home prices. However, this trend is based on multiple factors:

“The cost of a condo versus a house depends on the size of the home, the property values of the neighborhood and the cost of living in the area. Typically, you’ll spend less on a condo, industry experts say, and historically, single-family detached homes have appreciated faster than condominiums,” writes Geoff Williams on U.S. News. “While houses have appreciated faster than condominiums for years…median condo market values climbed by 38.4% from February 2012 to February 2017. Meanwhile, single-family detached homes appreciated by 27.9% during the same time frame.”

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to factor HOA costs into your monthly budget.

CON: Potential close proximity to neighbors

Finally, most condominium communities are laid out in a way that doesn’t leave a whole lot of space between each unit. This means you should be prepared to hear your neighbors’ movement through the walls every once in awhile. While this isn’t a major concern for most people, it may not be the ideal living situation for those who value having a great deal of privacy and seclusion.

Ultimately, living in a condominium community provides a one-of-a-kind lifestyle suitable for those of all different backgrounds. Still, it’s important to perform diligent research before committing to any major real estate transaction. Don’t hesitate to explore different areas to determine the best living situation for you.

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