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The Buying Debate: Condo vs. House


You’re searching for your next real estate purchase, and maybe it’s your first home. You want to consider every option, but first, start with the basics: do you go with a condominium or a house? There are positives and negatives to both options; either a condo or a house could be a viable choice for your lifestyle, depending on what you choose to focus on.

When you purchase a condo, you can benefit from how little maintenance is involved. You don’t need to worry about mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds from the garden, replacing the roof, or fixing your water heater. If you purchase a condo on a higher floor, you may experience peace of mind related to security. Additionally, you may experience other perks, like a rooftop patio, gym, or workshop.

While you save on maintenance duties when you purchase a condo, you must pay a condo fee or monthly charge, potentially ranging from $100/month to over $1000 per month. This fee helps to provide all the services that you don’t have to take care of as a condo owner. This can include water, hot water, grounds maintenance, and property management. This fee can also go towards a contingency fund and specialty options.

If you plan to purchase a condo, a vital step is finding out exactly what services are covered by the condo fee. You will want to know if you will be paying for services that you’re not interested in or and you will need to take the condo fee under consideration when thinking about mortgage payments. You will also want to check out how much money is in the reserve fund. If it is low and major repairs have recently been made, that may be an okay situation, but if the fund is low due to mismanagement, you may want to steer clear of that situation.

In terms of purchasing a house, you will be spared from any monthly fees; however, your responsibility will include the maintenance of all those things that are typically taken care of by that fee. You will need to fix your own roof if it leaks (or at least arrange for the repair), you need to ensure your grass and garden are maintained, and that your property is appropriate managed and kept up.

While owning a house is typically more work than owning a condo, you also have more control over each decision you make. You may want to do a quick-fix on an issue to wait for the perfect time to do a permanent repair, or you may want to paint your door red, while in a condo, you wouldn’t have the option to change exterior paint colours. Owning a house enables you to make major renovations without approvals and gives you the option to be in control of each and every decision.

An advantage of house ownership is the potential to make a better investment. For instance, if you own a condo, you may not be able to make the major repairs necessary to complete improvements that increase the value enough to make a large profit if you decide to sell a few years later. There are simply not as many improvement options when you are living in a more stringently controlled dwelling like a condo, like the ability to add a garage or impressive landscaping. That said, a condo could provide an easier lifestyle, with less stress and fewer worries as a result of major renovations and repairs.

Whatever your purchase, remember that when you make your choice, either option is part of your personal preference – there is no right answer, only a right answer for YOU.