Choosing a condo is a great opportunity for people looking to become homeowners. Though many people think that choosing a condo is just a glorified apartment, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For many, investing in a condo is a great opportunity to build equity and a sense of community.
People also think that owning a condominium is similar to owning a high-rise apartment. Fortunately, the term “condo” is meant to embody many aspects of housing. It isn’t an architectural label as much as it is an ownership style. As such. you could own a townhome, an “apartment,” or a completely separate small home. The idea of choosing a condo over other types of housing revolves around the fact that condos are a part of a whole. While you own everything on the inside of your townhome, shared spaces including the parking lot, green spaces, and other outdoor amenities are owned by the collective. As such, condo communities typically have a set of rules that you have to follow to be a part of that community. You might think this means that you have no freedom to do what you please, but you can actually change just about everything inside of your condo with no repercussions. Most of the time, these condo associations just say that you can’t play cornhole at midnight when your neighbors are trying to sleep.
Like all forms of housing, choosing a condo comes with pros and cons. This type of housing, for example, might not be great for a musician that wants to bang their drumset late into the night. It also might not work for people that crave ample outdoor space to build their own garden or work on old cars. However, this form of housing offers a slew of benefits if you choose to follow this path.
Here are some of the top considerations you should think about if you’re thinking about choosing a condo to live in.
Choose a great location
Just like choosing a great apartment or a new home, your first tip for buying a condo is location.
Luckily, there are various types of condo housing options available. Better yet, they range from urban lofts all the way to rural detached houses. If you’re set on choosing a condo over other housing types, you can rest assured that there’s a great neighborhood out there for you. You don’t necessarily have to get sucked into suburban life if you want to be close to laptop repair companies and fine dining restaurants in the city.
Here are some of the most common considerations homeowners make when they’re trying to choose the perfect location:
- What will the commute to work look like? Even though most of us are working from home right now, we’ll eventually have to go back to the office at some point. Consider how far your condo is from work or if you’re planning on working from home for good. In both situations, you’ll want to make your work-life easier. Don’t neglect where you’ll be spending 40 hours of your time each week.
- How close do you want to be to your family? If you’re moving to a new state, this isn’t as much of an issue. But if you want to be close to your family for events and casual brunches, you will want to look for condos close by. You might have to make a few sacrifices if you want to stay in your exact area; for example, you might no longer be able to rely on local plumbing companies if you’re getting a condo in a larger town with more competition. But this might be worth it if you have a tightly knit family unit.
- Proximity to amenities is another big factor. Many young families want to be located near good schools, museums, and parks to help their kids become well-rounded adults. On the other hand, a young condo-seeker might want to indulge in the city’s night-life once bars and restaurants open back up. The same goes for pet owners that want to be near dog parks or fitness addicts who want to go hiking every weekend. Before you sign the dotted line, be sure that the location matches your lifestyle.
It isn’t always easy to match a condo’s location with your preferred lifestyle. Considering these above tips will help ensure you get the most out of choosing a condo.
Old condos vs new condos
Just like houses, there are pros and cons to the age of your condo. Most communities will always offer the basics, like quality trash hauling services, parking, and greenspaces. However, it is easy to see why someone might want a newer condo for the recent upgrades and amenities. But there’s also a simple charm to an older condo if you want your home to have a little character.
Here are some of the top things you should consider when choosing a condo based on age:
- Unique qualities, like hardwood flooring, heating oil gas tanks, or original stained glass work.
- Higher ceilings designed to make a space feel more open.
- Interesting layouts — this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Some people like nooks and crannies while others prefer an open-floor layout.
- Smaller closets and storage space
- Fewer amenities and some outdated appliances that might need replacing. Luckily, most condo associations have deals with local air conditioning contractors and electricians should you need their help.
- A new commercial construction service guarantees updated amenities, like pools, and up-to-code electrical work and piping.
- A more uniform look since most condos are built with the same design in mind. As such, your condo will not vary that much from the apartment next-door.
- They are typically designed with an open-floor layout, which again, is a pro or con depending on how you look at it.
- They often have big closets with more storage, but shorter ceilings that do not crest eight feet in height.
- It might come with energy-efficient options, like double-paned windows and low-flow water plumbing service options.
- They might have thinner walls.
Keep in mind that you can still change a lot of aspects of your home once you’re actually living there. While you might not be able to install your own pool, you’ll be able to paint the walls, perform minor construction projects, and make your place your own. Be sure to read up on the condominium association’s rules and regulations and you should have no problem choosing a condo, new or old.
Apartment, loft, townhome, or detached house?
As mentioned earlier, condos are often thought of as apartments, but this isn’t always the case. Because condos refer to a type of ownership and not an architectural style, choosing a condo means that you could live in an apartment, a townhome, a loft, or even a detached house (though these might be a little smaller).
Apartments are great for folks who love simplicity. Most apartment-style condos are held to similar standards of living, which means that they all have eight-foot-high ceilings, clearly defined rooms, and contractor features that are typically out of sight. They might also be equipped with a fire sprinkler or two to ensure that the good of the building is protected. You might live on a floor at the top of the building or a basement unit, depending on your preferences. In some cases, there might be an elevator.
Lofts are most often considered high-end apartments. They will have wide-open spaces meaning that you’ll have to get creative when it comes to defining the space. For example, you might use your couch to bisect the living room from the dining room. These spaces will also have taller ceilings and since they are often made from old factories, they might have exposed HVAC materials. You might be able to hire an HVAC contractor to cover these features, but people who buy condo lofts often love the industrial feel.
A townhome is basically a small house with shared walls between units. They might have multiple floors, including a basement or crawlspace. They also often come with a small yard to ensure that each condo owner has their own greenspace. These types of condos are typically found in urban and suburban areas, along with the aforementioned options.
Detached houses are a little rarer for condos but that doesn’t mean they’re nonexistent. With this housing option, you’ll typically have a larger yard, a more unique home, and a little more privacy. However, this housing style doesn’t have a community feeling and it often won’t come with access to amenities, like pools. This kind of house is great for folks who want a little more independence to work on projects, like replacing auto glass in the garage (which might be present on the property).
If you’re stuck choosing a condo style, don’t hesitate to visit the community to get a better feeling of the area.
Read the agreement established by the condo association
Even if you find the perfect condo on the outside, the rules established by the condo association might send you running. At the end of the day, your property will be regulated by the community. In some cases, you might not be able to paint your door a certain color or own a dog larger than 20 pounds.
That’s why it’s important to read your ownership agreement carefully. Sometimes, there are great benefits included, like the availability of HVAC contractor services when you need them. In other cases, you might not be guaranteed a parking spot. Know your list of must-haves and don’t consider a condo option that doesn’t meet your expectations.
You might also need to pay condo association fees on top of your monthly mortgage, bills, and more. These fees go toward maintaining the community, like mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool. If you aren’t willing to pay for these fees, getting a condo might not be the best option for you. But if you are, it’s a great way to enjoy all your community has to offer at a relatively affordable price.
Buying a condo isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great decision for the select few who own them. If you’re considering choosing a condo this year, be sure to read these top factors in buying the best one. At the end of the day, you can always rely on a realtor with ample experience in choosing a condo for sale. You don’t have to go it alone, especially if you’re a first-time homeowner.
Rely on these tips to make the most of living in a condo.