Condo vs Single Family Home

When shopping for a new home there are many decisions to make – how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, do you want a new house or one that’s been recently renovated or is a fixer upper more your style? There’s also the factor of your finances and lifestyle, and whether a condo or a single family home is a better fit for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding condo vs. single family home.

condo vs single family home

    • Homeowner’s Association Fees (HOAs). When you buy into a condo building, you will be required to pay monthly HOA fees, which go towards building maintenance, common facility upkeep, water bills, sewage, etc. These fees can range from a few hundred dollars a month to over a thousand dollars a month depending on the amenities the building offers. A building with a common gym, pool, and tennis court will typically have significantly higher HOA fees than one that only has a common laundry room.
    • CC&R’s – Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions – Depending on the HOA’s bylaws, you may need permission and/or approval to make any modifications or renovations to your unit. These can be as strict as how large of a plant you can keep on a patio to as loose as being required to notify the association before a planned renovation.
    • If you do decide a condo is right for you, make sure the Homeowner’s Association has ample funds in their reserve. You don’t want to buy a home only to find out the building needs a new roof and the association is broke so you have to chip in a few thousand dollars. By the same token, if the association votes to replace all the windows in the building, you’ll be required replace your windows as well, so keep this in mind.
    • Typically the owner is only responsible for what is inside the unit. If your garbage disposal breaks, it’s your responsibility. But if a shared water heater breaks, that’s the Homeowner’s Associations responsibility. If you don’t want to have to worry about a lot of home maintenance, a condo might be the right fit for you.
    • If something breaks or the building needs a new roof, the cost is split among the number of units so many times the maintenance costs are significantly cheaper than with a single family home.
    • Condos tend to be cheaper than single family homes.
    • Amenities – Condos and Townhouses can potentially come with desirable amenities such as pools, gyms, common rooms and outdoor space.
    • Townhomes – where you enter from the street and typically have an attached garage – are becoming more prevalent.
    • They’re pricier. Single family homes tend to be more expensive than condos or townhomes. But also keep in mind that historically, single family homes appreciate more than condos.
    • All upkeep and maintenance is your responsibility, alone. This includes everything from trash to yard and tree maintenance to a leaky roof or faucet.
    • You have complete control over any changes you want to make to your home and don’t need anyone to approve that new kitchen you’re dying to have.
    • No monthly HOA fees.
    • Y You have privacy. With a single family home, you won’t have any common walls or someone above or below you.
    • A yard – Most single family homes have at least a small yard or outdoor space if that is a must-have on your list whereas condos typically will only have a small patio or balcony.
    • You don’t have to worry about other people bringing down the price of your home if they default on their loans.

In the end, it comes down to what works for your lifestyle. For many clients it’s a matter of amenities and convenience versus privacy. I always suggest potential buyers make a list of their needs and must haves before they decide which is a better fit for them and their lifestyle. There is no “right” answer, just what’s right for you!