Looking for a home means more than thinking carefully about what you can afford, what area you want to live in and what you want in a house. It also means carefully considering the type of home you buy. At the end of the day, the search for a home might boil down to a battle of condo versus house. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Whether the pros and cons of a single-family, detached home or townhouse outweigh the pros and cons of a condo depends on your lifestyle preferences and your financing options.
What is a condo?
Condo, town house, single-family home — these are all words you will hear when you’ll looking for a house. In some cases, the terms will overlap. For example, a town house can also be a condo, but not all condos are town houses. When you buy a town house or a single-family, detached home, you buy both the building or unit and the land that surrounds it. When you buy a condo, you are only buying the building or unit. Any land or common area around the unit is owned by the individual condo owners as a collective unit. There’s usually a homeowner’s association (HOA) that collects maintenance fees and creates rules for the collectively owned property.
When it comes down to condo versus house, condos offer a few advantages for some people. If you go the condo route, you don’t have to worry about taking care of the lawn, garden or landscaping. That is all part of the common area, and the HOA takes care of it. Some people enjoy tending to the yard and garden, in which case a condo wouldn’t be appealing.
Another advantage of living in a condo versus a house is that some condo developments or buildings feature amenities that might be beyond the reach of an average homeowner. Your condo might come with access to a swimming pool, tennis courts or even a golf course.
Privacy can be an issue when you live in a condo instead of a detached home. Your condo might share walls with your neighbor’s condos. Depending on how thick those walls are, you might get to overhear their conversations and have them overhear yours. That can also happen in a non-condo townhouse.
Getting prequalified for your mortgage before you start the search for your first home becomes even more important if you decide to go the condo route. Because you’ll be sharing the common areas with other owners, the lender will not only review your financial details but also the details of the condo development itself, according to the New York Times.
If a condo appeals to you more than a single family home, go for it. Just make sure you have your financing in order before you start looking.
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