So you want to buy a new home, but you’re not sure which type of space is right for you. Well, you’re not alone! Many first-time homebuyers or those moving to big cities have so much to consider, including deciding on whether to buy a condo versus a house.
If you’re ready to leave leases behind, keep reading to hear from these experts the pros and cons of condos and single-family home ownership, to see which could be right for you!
Condos Eliminate Outdoor Maintenance, For a Price
Condominium buyers can expect to pay a monthly or yearly Homeowners Association fee, which is an expense to add to a budget. This fee typically includes grounds maintenance, some insurance and possibly a few utilities.
“I usually deal with two groups of people who look at condos: people who are older and people who want to travel a lot,” said Besharat. “Maintaining a condo is safer and easier. You can lock it and leave it.”
The downside of a Homeowners Association is you only have part of the say in decisions that could affect your space and your pocketbook—if the building needs major repairs or upgrades while you own there.
“If you have a HOA, you’re not the sole decision maker on home you own,” said Besharat. “All people who live in the building are responsible for making decisions, and sometimes the group doesn’t always agree or cooperate.”
Condo buyers should also be aware a HOA fee can change after you buy, said Harris.
“The building is going to need more and more maintenance, and so the fees may increase,” she said.
Condos are Close to the City, and its Noise
Besides having fewer chores in a condo versus a house, many homebuyers choose a condo because it’s closer to the city or luxury amenities, like a beach or entertainment and restaurants.
“If you want a view of the water, but can’t afford a house in the area or want to live close to downtown—all that’s available in a condo,” said Harris.
But there’s also some amenities that are scarce in a condo, like parking and personal outdoor space.
“Condos that come with two parking spaces can cost $50,000 more than a condo with one parking space,” said Harris.
Being closer to the city center also translates to more traffic and noise, said Besharat.
“Noise is the biggest drawback to condos, especially in Washington,” she said. “People aren’t always aware of that.”
Condo vs House: Expect to Pay More for the Latter
Homeowners often buy condominiums because they are cheaper than houses, located in the same area. Single-family homes include more land, and often more property taxes, which could be out of the budget for many first-time homebuyers.
“You get a lot more, but you pay a lot more,” said Harris.
But there’s a lot of freedom that comes with the bigger price tag. Depending on where the home is located, you have a lot more control on what you can do to the outside of your home.
“When you have a condo, your community is the decision maker,” Besharat said. “With a single-family home, you’re on your own.”
Suburban Home Living: Peaceful Spaces with Fewer Luxuries
Having your own house means there’s typically a lot more space between you and your neighbors, but it also means you miss out on some of the best amenities that come with community living, like a swimming pool or on-site gym that you don’t have to personally take care of.
But if you have a family, or plan to start one, a house in the suburbs is likely closer to schools and parks. A home also has a lot of space to keep your stuff for free.
“Storage is scarce in a condo, although some newer places have extra storage on-site,” said Harris. “But there’s typically a lot more storage space in a house.”