Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pros and Condos

Buying a Condo

Homeownership certainly has a number of benefits, from the tax advantages to the equity you'll build in your property. That said, traditional family homes require maintenance that not everyone is prepared to cope with. If you aren't ready to spend weekends on yard work or home repairs, why not consider buying a condo?

The advantages of owning a condo

As a condo owner, your liability is limited to the interior of your unit – the structure of your building and all exterior spaces are owned communally by the home owners' association (HOA). What this means for you is that the cost of major repairs – like a new roof or new siding – are shared by all the members of the association, instead of falling squarely on your shoulders. You’ll still have to foot the bill for interior improvements and repairs, but the costs will be less than a normal home.

But lower repair bills aren't the only advantage to condo ownership. In addition, your complex may offer community facilities – like a pool, gym or clubhouse – onsite for you to use, free of charge. Your monthly bills may also be lower than single family homes, as shared condo walls cut down on heat and cooling expenses. Condo complexes offer the sense of community that suburbs just don’t offer, as people are a wall or two away.

Cons of Condos

Of course, there are some downsides to condo ownership. Let's take a look at a few of them:

  1. HOA Fees
    Although you aren't responsible for many traditional homeowner tasks, you aren't off the hook altogether. Every month, you'll be required to pay a home owner association fee which goes towards the maintenance of common areas, on top of your mortgage and tax payments. The fee itself depends on the size of the association, and services they offer, but most often, monthly dues are in $ 100 to $ 400 range.
  2. Rules and Regulations
    When you buy a condo, you agree to abide by the rules and covenants set forth by the HOA. This can include how you can decorate your home, acceptable noise levels, and whether you can rent out your condo in the future. Breaking these rules can result in penalties or fines, and a strict HOA board can make your life miserable if you aren't prepared to abide by them. Essentially, if you want the freedom to choose what color you can paint the walls you own, think about buying a condo first.
  3. Future Resale Values
    Traditionally, condos appreciate less in value than single family homes and often take longer on the market to sell. This isn't always the case – condos in desirable neighborhoods can turn over quite quickly – but you should be prepared to wait a little longer than normal when it comes time to sell. If potential resale values are a concern for you, you'll want to do your homework to determine whether a condo or a single family home makes more sense for you.

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