Should You Buy a House or Condo?
What you'll learn: How to decide which suits you the best – a house or a condo.
EXPECTED READ TIME: 12 MINUTES
August 25, 2022
In today's real estate market, getting the most value for your home investment is more critical than ever. Two of today's most popular choices for homebuyers are condominiums and single-family homes. But which is the better investment — a condo or a house?
There are pros and cons to both choices, so it's important to weigh your options carefully before making a decision. Here's a look at some of the key factors to consider before you buy a house or condo.
How is a Condo different that a house?
A condominium, often called a condo, is a type of housing where people own their individual units, but the common areas — such as lobbies, pools and gyms — are jointly owned by all the residents. In some cases, condos are part of a larger community that also includes single-family homes, town houses and other types of housing.
A house is a type of housing that is typically detached from other houses, meaning that each house stands alone rather than being attached to another unit. Townhomes typically share a common wall between two units.
Condo vs. House – Weigh What’s Best
To know which type of home is the better investment, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each. First, let's break down each option.
Pros of a condo:
- Lower purchase price. Condos tend to be less expensive than single-family homes in the same area. This can make them an attractive option for people who are on a tight budget or are not ready to commit to buying a house yet.
- Reduced maintenance costs. While homeowners may have to pay for maintenance in a house, condo fees typically cover many expenses such as landscaping, building insurance and even utilities. This can save owners a significant amount of money over time.
- Reduced responsibility. Many people choose to buy a condo because they don't have to worry about the exterior upkeep like painting or roof repairs. With a home, you're responsible for all these things. With a condo, you don’t have to worry about them.
Pros of a house:
- More space. If you're looking for more space, a house may be a perfect choice. You have more room to spread out and can often find homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, which can be helpful if you need lots of extra living space.
- Land. Houses usually come with land, which can be good if you want a yard or garden. You may not have as much space for these things with a condo.
- More privacy. If you're looking for more privacy, a house is often the better choice. You won't have neighbors living right next to you, and you'll likely have more control over who has access to your property.
- Higher potential return on investment. In general, houses tend to appreciate at a higher rate than condos. This means if you're looking to make a profit on your investment, a house is often the better choice.
First-Time Homebuyer – House or Condo?
First-time homebuyers often wonder whether they should buy a house or condo. There are pros and cons to both choices, but ultimately it comes down to what you're looking for in a home.
If you're on a budget, a condo may be the better choice. They tend to be less expensive than houses and come with lower maintenance costs.
However, if you're looking for more space and privacy, a house may be the better option. Additionally, if you're looking to make a profit on your investment, houses tend to appreciate at a higher rate than condos.
First-time homebuyers often risk being priced out during a housing market boom, as people rush to buy homes. This can make it challenging to find an affordable home, and a condo may be a more realistic option in these cases.
Starting in a Condo vs. House Debate
So, should first-time homebuyers start with a condo or house? In short, it depends on your personal preferences and long-term goals.
Both options can be good investments, but you'll need to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Ultimately, the best choice is one that fits your budget and meets your lifestyle needs.
There are pros and cons to both condos and houses, so first-time homebuyers need to carefully weigh their options before making a decision.
Condo, Townhome or House — Let’s Compare!
What about pricing and availability?
Condo prices have been steadily rising for years and are now at an all-time high in many markets.
The average price of a condo in the U.S. depends on the region, but in general, a condo is likely to be more affordable than a house.
Meanwhile, houses can often be harder to find, especially for first-time homebuyers who may not have as much money saved up for a down payment and closing costs.
When it comes to choosing between a condo or house, there are many factors to consider when it comes to the investment, such as:
- Location. As with any property, location is key. In general, condos tend to be located in denser urban areas while houses are more likely to be in suburban or rural areas.
- Maintenance and repair costs. Condos usually have monthly association fees that cover the costs of common-area maintenance and repairs. This can be helpful if something breaks but can also be a downside if the monthly fee is too high.
- The potential Return on Investment (ROI). In general, houses tend to outpace condos when it comes to long-term value appreciation and potential ROI.
- Lifestyle considerations. Houses often offer more privacy and space than condos. If you have a large family or pets, a house may be more accommodating than a condo. But if you're looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle, a condo might be better.
Pros and Cons of Houses and Condos
Other critical elements to consider when choosing between a condo or house are your lifestyle and personal preferences. There are pros and cons to both, so it’s important to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option before making a decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Single-family home vs. multi-unit. If you're looking for peace and quiet, a single-family home is probably better. On the other hand, if you value convenience and community, a condo may be more appealing.
- Privacy. Depending on the size of your property and location, a house can offer more privacy than a condo. But in some cases, shared walls or even connecting units may offer more privacy than a house.
- Maintenance and upkeep. Maintaining a house can be costly, especially if you have a large property or multiple outdoor spaces. Condos often come with monthly homeowner association fees that cover the costs of maintenance and repairs for common areas. This may be helpful in terms of saving time and money, but it can also be a downside if the fees are too high.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when choosing between a condo or house. It all depends on your personal preferences and long-term goals. Whether you decide to invest in a house or condo, make sure to do your research and carefully consider all of your options before making a final decision.
Other Differences in Buying a House vs. a Condo
Finally, there are some other key differences to keep in mind when comparing houses and condos, including:
- Zoning regulations. Depending on the zoning regulations in your area, it may be easier to build onto a house than a condo. This is something to consider if you're interested in customizing your property or adding onto it in the future.
- HOA restrictions. If you're considering a condo, be aware of any HOA restrictions that may be in place. These could impact everything from the type of renovations you're allowed to make to whether or not you can rent out your unit.
- Financing. It may be easier to finance a house than a condo in some cases. This is something to consider if you're planning to get a mortgage or line of credit.
Knowing who you're buying with and what you’re buying is also essential. When you buy a condo, you're not only buying the unit itself but also a share of the common areas and any amenities that come with it. This can be beneficial in terms of shared costs and resources, but it's important to be aware of your responsibilities as an owner.
On the other hand, when you buy a house, you're responsible for the property in its entirety. This includes the land, the structure and any outbuildings or amenities that come with it. While this may require more maintenance and upkeep, this also gives you more control over your property.
Whatever you choose – it’s an exciting time. Happy house or condo hunting!