By: Kyle Spearin
You’ve been thinking about buying a property for quite some time. Now that you have enough money saved, it’s time to start the process.
As you begin to look at homes, you notice that there are a variety of options. The two most notable and commonly sought after options are condos and single family homes. For a new buyer, this can be quite a dilemma.
Before you can go any further in your search, you need to ask yourself this question: “should I buy a condo or single family home?”
Knowing the answer to this question from the start will make your search much easier. By determining your search criteria ahead of time, your realtor will be able to create a specialized search to ensure that you get exactly what you’re looking for. If
you don’t narrow down your options, you will get overwhelmed.
“But how do I know what’s right for me?” You might be wondering.
There are a variety of factors to consider. Some are financial in nature, whereas other elements come down to personal preference. As you read this article, you’ll get a glimpse at the pros and cons of each option to see what the best fit is for your
Single Family Home
The quintessential American dream: a house with a white picket fence. Even if that isn’t what you envision as your ideal home, there’s a lot to love about single family homes.
Here are 4 arguments for purchasing a single family home.
The Benefits of Owning a Single Family Home
Houses symbolize a greater degree of freedom for owners. Your property, your rules. Unlike condos and townhomes, you don’t have to follow a set of guidelines prescribed by an association. As a single family resident, you don’t need permission from an
association to renovate your kitchen or to paint your house. The final thing to consider is privacy. Unless you live in a multi-family home, you don’t share walls with your neighbors. That means you won’t have to worry about hearing footsteps
or conversations. Owning a house gives you far more independence and privacy.
Single family homeowners have more space. Whether indoors or outdoors (usually) you will generally have more square footage to work with. This means more room for expansion and more bedrooms, a huge plus for those with families or those who plan on starting
well as more storage like attics, basements, and so forth. It is also more common for houses to have more bedrooms for
The biggest selling point for houses is appreciation. Single family houses historically appreciate at better rates than all other domiciles. As such, your home has the potential to increase in value faster, making you wealthier by improving your equity.
Going along with the previous section, the fact your home increases in value through appreciation over time helps the resale value. This means that if you hold your property long enough, you will most likely sell at a better price (keep
in mind that this is all market dependent). More importantly, single family homes tend to sell faster and are less impacted by recessions than condos and townhouses.
The Downside to Owning a Single Family House
As noted in the benefits section, houses appreciate better than condos. The downside of this is that they become more expensive to purchase and it creates a higher barrier to entry. With a higher purchase price, you will need to come up with more
money for your down payment.
Do you like doing yard work and repairs?
As a single family home owner, you will be responsible for both interior and exterior maintenance. When you own any property, things will inevitably break, so you will have to either fix things yourself or hire a specialist. As with the interior,
you will also need to take care of your landscaping needs and any other exterior maintenance.
In general, single family homes tend to have higher taxes. For one thing, they usually have more square footage, which is a factor considered in your tax rate. Additionally, single family homes tend to cost more and appreciate more. Home assessors
will take these things into account as well.
Condos and Townhouses
For the intents and purposes of this article, condos and townhouses are grouped together. Before further generalizing, it is important to highlight some differences that you should be aware of.
A condominium is similar to an apartment in that it’s an individual unit residing in a building or community of buildings. A townhouse is an attached home also owned by its resident. One or more walls are shared with an adjacent attached townhome.
Each of these are owned by individuals as part of an association.
Although there are some differences between the two, there are significantly more similarities. This is why they have been grouped together in this article. Below you will find pros and cons to owning one of these properties.
The Benefits of Owning a Condo
From a financial perspective, condos tend to be cheaper and as such require less money for a downpayment. In effect, there is a lower barrier of entry to acquiring a condo or townhouse than there is for a house.
People who are busy or just don’t want to maintain a house tend to purchase condos or townhouses. A key benefit is that a condo’s maintenance is primarily taken care of by the HOA (HomeOwners Association). In most associations, you are only responsible
for taking care of the interior of your condo. Always be sure to read through the association documents, because they do vary.
The final sticking point on condos is that some have abundant amenities. Yes you pay an HOA fee, but you might get a fitness center and a pool.
The Downside to Owning a Condo
The biggest downside of owning a condo is paying a monthly HOA fee. When comparing the price of a condo and a house, be sure to include this in your calculations because it can get pricey. Always be sure to consider what the HOA fee covers when
you draw comparisons, It may include amenities, water, electric, and so on. Be sure to know this and ask questions before committing.
Lack of Control
In a housing association, you have far less control. You have to abide by the rules put forth by the association. Something as simple as having pets or painting your door a different color might be against the rules, so be sure to look into this.
If you want to make repairs or rent your property, you will also need to check with the association.
Homeowners associations are also run by a board. This can make or break you financially. A well-managed association has money budgeted for maintenance that arises, but not all of them are well-managed. In this case, if a roof gets damaged or there
are other exterior repairs needed, you will get a special assessment that needs to get paid in addition to your HOA fees.
As you begin your home search be sure to know whether you want to live in a condo or a single family home. This will make the buying process much smoother from the start.