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When you’re looking through all your homebuying options, you might realize there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. A house provides plenty of privacy and the freedom to make changes, but they’re generally more expensive.
On the other hand, a condo often comes with amenities and less maintenance, but there’s also shared walls and many rules to follow.
Both condos and houses allow you to become a homeowner and build equity, which becomes a powerful asset. If you’re deciding between a condo and house, you’ll need to think about your lifestyle and budget.
Here’s a run-through of the major pros and cons of house and condo ownership:
Pros and cons of condos
A condominium, or condo, is a unit within a multi-unit building or complex that often comes with shared amenities, such as a pool and fitness center. When you join a condo association, you’ll pay monthly dues that cover those common areas and other expenses.
While condos are typically cheaper upfront and come with less maintenance, you’ll have to weigh the cost of paying homeowners association (HOA) fees and having less control over your property.
- Lower purchase price: Prices on condos are often lower than single-family homes, making homeownership more affordable. In June 2021, the median price on single-family homes was $363,300, while it was $311,600 for condos, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
- Less maintenance: Condo owners typically don’t have to handle exterior maintenance tasks such as landscaping, mowing the lawn, removing snow, and cleaning the gutters. The condo association might even take care of major systems like the HVAC and plumbing. This kind of convenience may be worth the cost.
- Amenities: Depending on the development, you might have access to free amenities such as a pool, gym, barbecue area, parking garage, and dog-walking area. You and the other condo tenants share these areas.
- Lower insurance costs: Condo insurance generally costs less than a homeowners insurance policy because you’ll only need to purchase a policy for your own unit. (However, the condo association buys a master policy for the building — and your monthly fee might cover your portion of this cost.)
Check Out: Are Condos a Good Investment?
- Condo association fees: Condo owners are typically responsible for a monthly HOA fee that pays for amenities, landscaping, insurance, and general maintenance and repairs. The fee varies with each condo association, but may range from around $200 to more than $1,000 a month. This increases your homeownership costs.
- Rules and regulations: Association rules may limit what you can do while living in your condo. For instance, you might not be able to own certain pets, leave items on the balcony, or sublet your unit.
- Lack of privacy: Condo owners share walls, stairways, halls, roofs, and community facilities with other unit owners. With neighbors so close by, you’ll have less privacy than you would with a detached home.
- Potential neighbor turnover: If owners can sublet their units, you might have a new neighbor every year.
Who a condo is best for
Because condos generally cost less to purchase and insure, they might be best for first-time homebuyers who want to keep expenses low. They’re also a good option if you plan to use the association’s amenities and don’t want to spend time maintaining your property.
If you’re looking to purchase a condo, Credible can help you find a great mortgage rate. Our intuitive, streamlined process makes it easy to compare home loans from all of our partner lenders. In just a few minutes, you can see personalized prequalified rates with no impact to your credit score.
Keep Reading: FHA Approved Condos: How to Find One
Pros and cons of houses
A house is a standalone property that’s built for one family or person. It doesn’t share walls, a roof, doors, or land with another unit, and the owner is usually responsible for the home’s upkeep.
If the house is part of a homeowners association, the owner will have to join and pay HOA dues — and follow certain neighborhood rules.
- Offers more privacy: Because a single-family home doesn’t share walls with another home and is built on its own piece of land, you’ll have more privacy from neighbors.
- Customizable: Single-family homeowners can make changes to their home and land, while condo owners have to get permission from an association.
- Extra storage space: These homes usually have extra space such as an attic, basement, and spare closets.
- More resale opportunities: Single-family homes are more desirable in many neighborhoods. As such, home resale values are usually better, plus they’re often easier to sell than condos. Also, condo owners may need to seek permission to sell and have the buyer go through board approval.
- More expensive: The average price tag on a single-family home in June 2021 was about 17% higher compared to a condo, according to the NAR.
- More maintenance: Single-family homeowners will need to maintain the home and the surrounding land, which takes time and money.
- Potential HOA fee: If the home is within a homeowners association, owners will need to join and pay an HOA fee.
- No shared amenities: Unless the home is in a homeowners association, a single-family house usually lacks community amenities.
Who a house is best for
Homebuyers who prioritize privacy and want to customize their homes are well-suited for single-family houses. This type of home is also a good fit if you don’t mind spending time and money on maintenance.
Condo vs. house: Main takeaways
When it comes to buying a condo versus a house, the benefit of one of these options tends to be the drawback of the other. Choosing between the two often comes down to your budget and lifestyle. Here are the main takeaways:
|Must pay HOA fees every month, ranging from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 or more.||Might need to pay HOA fees.|
|Residents typically have access to shared amenities such as a pool, gym, and laundry room.||Comes with more privacy and the ability to customize the property.|
|Generally offers less privacy than a detached home, and neighbor turnover may be high.||The purchase price and insurance costs are typically higher than condos.|
|You’ll have to follow association rules, which may restrict making any changes to your unit.||Often easier to resell than condos.|
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