Skyline view from condo balcony

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Buying a Condo

Wondering if buying a condo is right for you? For some, owning a condo may be the perfect way to invest in property without the hassle of yard maintenance or working on major repairs. But condo living has its share of disadvantages as well. Buying a condo is a major decision that should be approached carefully. To help you make the best choice, we’ve covered some advantages and disadvantages of buying a condo below.

The Advantages of Buying a Condo

Exterior of a condominium complex

Flexible Living

A mid-sized condo is perfect for buyers who want to downsize from a larger home or who don’t want to spend a ton of time maintaining a house. A smaller space provides more freedom for residents who want to spend time traveling or enjoying their city instead of constantly working on home improvement.

More Affordable Than Single-Family Houses

In larger cities or beachfront locations, a condo can be much more affordable than comparable houses, making it a less intimidating buy for first-time homeowners. In some cities, owning a condo is also often cheaper than a renting an apartment or buying a townhouse.

Cheaper Insurance

When you own a condo, your homeowners insurance only needs to cover the inside of your home, as your monthly HOA fees will help insure the building or complex you’re in. A house, however, requires insurance for inside and outside. This means your rates will often be cheaper than the insurance needed for a house.

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Great Sense of Community

Most condo buildings and complexes have communal spaces, such as kitchens, patios, or rooftops, where residents can get together and get to know one another better. In addition, condo communities usually host fun events for residents like movie nights, game nights, wine tastings, cookouts, and more.

Proximity to Entertainment & Business Districts

One major advantage of condo living is that condo buildings are typically found in or around downtown areas, so residents have great access to nearby entertainment and business districts. This means living within walking distance of restaurants and bars, public transit, major attractions, and tons of events.

Top-Notch Amenities

You don’t have to live in a luxury condominium to enjoy nice amenities. Most condos have community spaces like a pool, rooftop terraces, or a fitness center, which you can use without worrying about the upkeep. Some condos even have tennis courts or spas! Keep in mind that the more amenities a condominium complex has, the more your HOA (homeowners association) fee will be each month.

Appliances Included

When you buy a house, you often have to buy appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and washers and dryers. Of course, these appliances can be included in the sale, but you’ll have to update them in the future if you want to sell your house. Most condos come pre-furnished with these appliances, and in some cases their repairs can be covered by building maintenance, which is a major advantage.

Covered Maintenance

Condos offers residents the opportunity to embrace homeownership without the hassle of yard work, snow shoveling, or home repairs. Building hallways, entryways, and community spaces are also taken care of by a cleaning or maintenance staff, so you only have to worry about your living space.

Good Security

Most condo buildings have secure entrances and surveillance cameras, and some even have security guards or doormen who keep an eye on the property. This is especially great for those who live alone.

The Disadvantages of Buying a Condo

Condo building

HOA Fees

Along with mortgage and property taxes, condominium owners pay homeowners association fees. HOA fees are monthly dues that go toward community amenities, building maintenance, cleaning services for common areas, upkeep of laundry facilities, and more. Typically, these rates can vary from $100 to more than $1,000. Sometimes, these rates can increase. There are a few reasons why your HOA fees can rise:

  • If a major repair is needed in the building, such as a new elevator, a special assessment is made in each occupied unit, meaning the amount of the new repair will be tacked onto each resident’s fee.
  • Most associations will take a portion of your monthly payment and put them in a reserve fund, a savings account that can be used for future expenses or projects. If there isn’t enough in the reserve fund, payment for a major repair will be included in your fee.

No Outdoor Space

While no yard work is a positive of condo ownership, not having green space can be a disadvantage for some residents. Especially if you have kids who want to play outside or have a large dog that needs to go to the bathroom, you may have to walk a fair distance to find a playground or park.

Lack of Privacy

Similar to an apartment, condos share walls. You might hear your neighbors walking across their condo or having a party. You might hear loud TVs or animals. And they might hear you, too. For people used to living in an apartments, this may not be an issue. But for those downsizing from a house to a condo who are looking for peace and quiet, condo living may not be ideal.

Pet Restrictions

Though about 85% of condos do accept pets, there can be limits on size, breed, and number of pets, which can be a major disadvantage for pet lovers. You may also have to get rid of your pet if there are too many complaints from other residents. Make sure to read the rules on pets before you move in!

Limited Parking

Since condos are typically located in more urban areas, parking is almost always an issue. You may only have one reserved parking spot for your unit, making it difficult to find a place for a second vehicle, guest vehicles, or a recreational vehicle like a boat or RV. Parking garages and street parking may be available, but you’ll have to pay monthly or annually for these spots, which can be expensive.

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Specific Rules to Follow

There are sets of rules condo owners have to abide by. Called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&R), these rules are enforced by the HOA. Some examples of these rules are:

  • Not being able to put solar panels on your roof.
  • Being limited to what holiday decorations you can put on your front door or in windows.
  • Parking rules like no overnight parking on the street.
  • Limits on community spaces, including specific access hours for the pool or gym.
  • Quiet hours may be enforced throughout the week and even on the weekends.
  • Bans on smoking or drinking in community areas.

Value Appreciates Slower Than Houses

When you buy a condo, you’re only investing in the living space, not the land. This means the value appreciates more slowly over time. Over a longer stretch of time, houses have historically demonstrated higher rates because more people prefer homeownership, but there’s evidence to show condos may be closing the appreciation gap.

Lack of Storage Space

Not having a basement, garage, attic, or additional closets might be a downside for residents who need to store items. Some condos can include small storage units assigned to each condo, but this isn’t always a guarantee, which means you may have to downside your possessions or move to get more space. Of course, you can always rent a storage unit, which will be cheaper than moving to a larger condo.

Thinking of buying a condo? Learn more about whether a condo is a good investment for you!

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Buying a Condo via @extraspace