One thing that comes to mind when shopping for a house, especially when in an urban area is “Should I buy a condo instead?”.
For those who aren’t aware, a condo is a mixture of an apartment and a house. Like a house, you buy the condo and then own it. However, some elements of condo living are very similar to apartment living. First, many condos are right next to others, so those who own one will often share a wall and live in close proximity to another. If you are in a high-rise building, your condo will be above or below somebody else’s.
If you talk to family or friends who happen to also live in condos, you will soon learn that many people love the condo life, while others wish they invested in a house instead.
So what are the good and bad things about a condo? Here are a few reasons you may or may not want to buy one.
No Mowing Involved
This is a huge plus of owning a condo in Ottawa. You will never have to mow your own lawn because those dues that you pay to the condo association go towards your maintenance needs. When you buy a home for the first time, you have enough to worry about when it comes to getting your furnishings. With condos, it’s a relief when you realize that you don’t have to worry about maintenance on your roof, driveway, or yard. Paying the fee is sometimes worth it.
However, having your outdoor work managed isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes the associations are underfunded and there is no money in reserves to pay for improvements such as wood repair, painting, roofing, or concrete. A lot of times, condo owners fall behind on association dues when there is a recession. It is important to ensure that the association is well-run before buying a condo. If there are many members who struggle with their dues and you only live in a condo community of 10, you are likely to feel the effects.
It’s Cheaper Than A House
The cost of a condo versus the cost of a home depends on the size, property values, neighborhood, and the cost of living in the area. Generally, you are going to spend less on a condo, especially in higher cost markets where condos are the only alternative to more expensive single-family homes.
For example, a 2,400 square foot townhouse condo in Ottawa might cost you $500,000. But in a similar-sized, single-family home, it might cost you almost $1 million.
However, the price of the condo isn’t all you are going to pay. You have to remember that you have your association dues. You could end up paying anywhere from $100 per month to more than $1,000 per month, depending on the location and if you want a luxurious or no fluff condo community. If a condo community has 24-hour gated security and first-class amenities, residents have to help pay those extras.
You may also find yourself on the receiving end of an assessment. Every month, part of your fees goes into the development reserves. This is where the condo association gets the money to fund certain projects such as exterior painting. If a pipe happens to burst and there isn’t enough in the reserve to cover the cost of repairs, the owners of the condos may be asked to pay an assessment, which can range to a minor price or thousands of dollars. These unexpected hits can happen whether you are in a home or a condo.
You should also consider the fact that condos can be much harder to sell than houses. You can boast to homebuyers about the spacious bedrooms or all of the extras in your condo building, but if there are a lot of neighbors selling theirs, there may not be much to differentiate yours from theirs.
There are many homeowners who may say the same thing about their neighborhood, but as noted, Ottawa condo owners tend to live closer than those of suburban homeowners, who may have large yards separating them.
Unfortunately, the reasons why some love the condo life are the same reasons why some owners hate it. You can’t choose who your neighbors are. If you get a bad one, you have to deal with it for a long period of time.