Is Living in a Condo Right for You?
Condominiums have come along way since the 80’s. While the concept of condos were new and approached with hesitation back then, condos are now a stable, viable source of housing in today’s real estate market.
Condominiums come in all shapes and sizes. You can get a unit all on one floor, a townhouse with no one living below or above you, stand alone units, a condominium in an over 55 community, a luxury condo, condos that cater to weekend get aways in the mountains or the on the water etc…
7 Great Reasons To Buy A Condo
Buying a condominium isn’t for everyone. For others, there can be some great reasons why a condo is a great choice. Let’s take a quick look at why a condominium might be a consideration for your next purchase.
1- Buying A Condo Is Generally Less Expensive Than an Equivalent Single Family Home
Buying a condo is less expensive than buying a similarly sized and appointed single family home, even after factoring in the condo fee.
Why? They are less expensive to build.
Some of the cost of construction is shared between multiple units. For example take a row of townhouses. Many have them shared walls and roofs. And, consider if they are running water, sewer and electricity from the street one run will service more than one unit.
You also have the economy of scale. A developer can get a better price on 200 identical units from sub contractors than they can on building a single unit.
A big factor is also the cost of land per unit can be far cheaper than a single family home.
All of this adds up to the cost basis of a condo being less expensive and that savings is passed on to a buyer.
As of today I looked at all new construction single family homes and new construction condominiums being sold in Essex County Massachusetts. Condominiums came in at $307 a square foot while single family homes came in at $381 a square foot.
So if you are interested in buying a condominium you are going to get more for your money by purchasing a condominium over a single family home.
2- Owning A Condo Means Much Of The Maintenance Is Done For You
When you become an owner of a condominium there is usually an HOA and/or Mangement company that oversees much of the maintenance for the exterior of the building, the grounds and common areas.
Your responsible for inside your unit but generally everything outside is part of the HOA’s responsibilities. That also means the sewer running to your unit, the electric and plumbing coming to your unit and similar things are in common with other units and is the responsibility of the HOA. Also the exterior of your building including decks, roofs, siding, driveways and will typically be maintained at the HOA’s expense.
Maintenance will cover repairs but also regular upkeep like landscaping, snow removal, upkeep of common areas like pools and clubhouses, etc…
If you own in a well run complex you won’t have to give much of a thought to the maintenance. It will just be done and your condo fee covers most of the cost of regular maintenance and routine repairs out of your condo fee.
3- Community Amenities Might Be Included With Your Condominium
There may be amenities included with a condominium most people would never get with a single family home like a gym, pool, tennis court. theater rooms, game room. etc….
The cost of building and maintaining these amenities is spread over many. Cost to build and maintain these amenities are financially possible when you are sharing with your neighbors in your community.
How great would that be to roll out of bed and hit the community gym or tennis court wit out paying additional monthly fees or getting into your car?
4- Living In A Condo Community Can Be a Great Way To Socialize
Buying a condominium also means buying into a community. It can be a great way to connect with other people. The closer proximity to your neighbors and the commonality of a shared community make it easier to connect with others around you.
At the very least you are sharing your community with others and often a particular community will attract similar types of people.
On top of it, many HOA’s now spend a lot of time connecting its residents through events. It could be game nights, seasonal parties, outings and more…
5- Costs Of Maintenance Is Shared
Whether siding needs to be replaced, a roof needs to be replaced, decks stained, lawn cut, etc… The cost of maintenance will be shared over many.
Also part of your monthly condo fee will include a reserve fund to cover those unexpected repairs.
For example if a tree fell on your deck on a single family home, it would be your burden bear the cost of replacement. But if a tree falls on your deck in a condominium community it is the HOA’s responsibility to replace out of the reserve fund. Technically the cost of your deck is spread over all the other units and vice versa.
6- Buying A Condominium Can Be An Investment Compared To Renting
We all have to live somewhere and owning in many cases can be the same cost or even less than renting. Right now in the greater Boston area rents are astronomical and in many cases making the jump to home ownership can actually cost you less per month.
Even with the initial purchase aside, over the long haul owning puts more money int your pocket than renting. The longer you own the more financial benefit owning a home has for you.
If you like security there are several reasons why a condominium could provide you with more security.
You will be living in close proximity with your neighbors and some one will always have an eye on your home if something should seem amiss.
Also given, the limited exits and entrances to many condo communities, a condominium doesn’t make a great target for someone up to no good.
So Who Could Be Attracted To Buying a Condominium?
Someone Who Travels A Lot
If you are a person who like to travel a lot for pleasure or business, or are a snowbird, often being away from home for long stretches a condominium could be a smart choice. You don’t have to worry about the grass being cut or the snow being plowed.
It will be also be hard for the surrounding community ignore if something has gone wrong.
Of course being in New England you always have the chance of a pipe bursting which will be less likely with a condo as you are often sharing walls, ceiling/floors, etc…
Someone looking to downsize and simplify would be a perfect candidate for purchasing a condo. Less size, less maintenance and it give the flexibility of traveling with less hassle.
As a matter of fact, I am seeing many new construction condominiums coming onboard catering to the over 55 housing needs. Generally many retirees have some money to spend and are looking for smaller, more luxurious spaces with but with less hassle of owning a single family home.
Young professionals who are just starting their careers and working hard, may not have a lot of time to fix up a home and work on outdoor maintenance. Buying a condo can be a great choice from an affordability standpoint as well as someone with limited time.
You Want To Live Your Life
If you are a person that doesn’t want to spend time working on your house and you want your weekends free to live your life, consider buying a condo. There is a whole generation of millennials that want to spend their time and money on experiences and relationships rather than live for their housing like past generations.
Much of your exterior maintenance will be taken care of by someone else, freeing up your time.
Much of your spare time will be spent outside mowing lawns, removing snow, raking leaves, attending to the landscaping and exterior maintenance if you own a single family home.
Not so if you take advantage of the benefits of owning a condominium!
Looking To Own On A Budget
Of course there are luxury condos but there is a whole segment of condos that are much smaller than a single family home and it allows someone on a budget to get their feet wet owning a home.
For example if you wanted to buy a home in an upscale community like Andover MA the least expensive single family home is $335,000 while the least expensive condo is $219,900.
You could get into Andover Real Estate Marker for over 100,000 less by purchasing a condo.
A Word On Condo Fees
I often hear from buyers who say they don’t want to pay condo or HOA fees. Yes, I get that. Its an extra monthly expense.
But I would also like to point out you should think about it a bit.
First your condo fee almost always covers your insurance. Back out at least 100 dollars for insurance. Say your condo fee is $350 a month. Now take out the insurance and it is now $250 a month.
In most cases I think you have blinders on if you don’t think your going to spend a good portion of that $250 a month on maintenance and extra exterior repairs over a 5-10 year life span of ownership on a single family home.
And let’s be fair, this is making the assumption you are the type of person who likes to keep your home in good repair with well manicured lawns, as well as hiring professionals for some of the work.
What Is Your Condo Fee Paying For?
- Professionally Landscaped entrances and beds including fertilizing the lawns
- Mowing the lawns
- Raking Leaves
- Water for Sprinkler Systems
- Exterior repairs or replacement of roofs, siding, decks, driveways, etc…
- Re-staining Decks
- Power Washing your house regularly
- Buying and maintaining lawn mowers, snowblowers and other equipment
- Emergency Repairs
- Some condo fees in older complexes include water and sewer
- and much, much more…..
Plowing an average driveway is $40 dollars a pop. A small yard that is properly maintained with fertilizer and such can cost $400 a year in supplies. Spring and fall clean ups of the yard start at $200 each. Never mind replacing a small roof for $6-10,000 or prepping and re-staining a deck every several years for material costs of several hundred dollars….
Or what about a snowblower or lawn tractor going in for maintenance every other year…. what would that cost? Ever try heating a pool and a hot tub thru a season? If it is your sole responsibility you could be spending upwards of 500 a month just to heat the water!
The difference is in a single family home you aren’t thinking a steady, monthly fee. You pay as you go without thinking much about it. One month might be $100 another is $50, then you hit a big month with a big repair and it is $800.
You get my drift. It adds up quickly. If you don’t think you are going to spend the better part of a condo fee to maintain a single family home over time you are sorely mistaken. Even if you do a lot of the work yourself think of the countless hours you will spend doing the work yourself.
Of course you are paying a premium for the work to be done at a condo complex because a professional management company is paid to take care of it. But isn’t your time worth something to you?
Summary of Great Reasons To Buy A Condo
Condo ownership is not for everyone. But there are some great reasons to own a condo for certain people. Maybe the benefits of owning a condominium are appealing to you.
If you are considering purchasing a condo think about what the benefits will be for your lifestyle.
As a Massachusetts Buyer’s Agent, I see there being two major reasons why a buyer is choosing a condominium.
First is they are unwilling, incapable or don’t have the time to do a lot of the upkeep that can be required in owning a home.
Second is money. The choice is to buy a “lot more” condo or buy a smaller home or a home that needs work.
Other Condominium Buying Advice:
- Kyle Hiscock 10 First Time Condo Buying Tips
- Jeff Nelson Tips For Your Condo Purchase
- Conor MacEvilly Questions To Ask When Buying A Condo
- Bank Rate Buying A Condominium
7 Great Reasons To Buy A Condo was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. Kevin Vitali is a Tewksbury MA REALTOR® that services northern Middlesex county as well as Essex county in Massachusetts. Call for your Home Buying Consultation…completely free and no obligation.
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