Condos Vs Houses: Which Should I Choose?
You’ve decided to purchase a new living space, and you may be wondering which type of residence would best fit your needs. With all of the additional considerations that you’ll encounter during the home buying process—paperwork, escrow, navigating the mortgage loan landscape, etc.—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Add to this an array of choices regarding the types of suitable residences available and it’s little wonder you’re here asking the question: do I buy a traditional home or a condo?
While only you can decide which is the best fit based on your needs, there are several pros and cons to consider when choosing either as your next home.
Square Footage and Privacy
More than likely, a condo’s square footage is going to be less than that of a house. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. In major metropolitan areas, condominiums (and apartments) are the norm when it comes to housing. Los Angeles, for instance, has condos on the market ranging anywhere from 900 square feet to over 1700 square feet. Meanwhile, LA houses have a much larger potential upper range—giving their owners an abundance of living space.
Also, keep in mind that not all condominiums are detached or stand alone. Many are constructed similarly to apartments where you’ll have neighbors on either side of you sharing a wall. So, while you may have a large, comfortable space, you may also need to make sure you can live with your neighbors' level of noise.
Condo Pro: If you don’t mind a limited amount of space, then a condominium may fit the bill.
House Pro: There’s room for expansion. Should you need more space—more distance from neighbors and more square footage—then a traditional house is your best bet.
Taking a look at what you plan to do with the space you have over the foreseeable future can help you understand which option will best suit your needs.
Cost: Purchase Price and Maintenance
Cost is where the lines become a bit more blurred. Again, depending on what area you desire to take up residence, some condominiums can equal the cost of a modest, three bedroom, 2 bath single family home in another area. When buying a condo, there are still fees associated with the real estate transaction process (closing costs, etc.; although there may be a limit to the types of loans available for condominium purchasing). Condominiums, overall, tend to have a lower purchase price.
Where condominiums might be more attractive is in the maintenance arena. Owning a house comes with the huge responsibility of upkeep including keeping foliage trimmed, lawns mowed (and green), and other general external maintenance. Conversely, most condominiums have association fees you pay that include the maintenance of common areas or other common use items such as your roof.
Condo Pro: You’ll likely pay less for a condominium and depending on the condominium association, you’ll have fewer maintenance responsibilities.
House Pro: Houses can be easier to sell. While this is relative to the local and national housing market, it’s still a consideration to keep front and center as you continue your research. Also, condominium association rules can limit many amenities such as how many guests can use the available parking, as well as what you can or cannot do (if you want to paint your front door red, the association may give you a thumbs down).
Conclusion: It’s a toss-up. Houses typically allow more freedom for customization and space while condos may be less expensive and closer to areas you enjoy. It’s important to look at every listing with your wants and needs in mind, so you can make a decision that will leave you with a home you will enjoy for years to come.
Remember that your real estate agent is your ally in this process. They can help you narrow down your search to residences that have what you are looking for.