Condominiums are certainly popular in the greater Boston real estate market. And for some home buyers, buying a condominium can be a great choice. In last week’s article I discussed some great reasons why a condominium may be a good choice for a home buyer. But this week we will look at the other side of the coin of why you should not buy a condominium.
Last week’s article discussed that a condominium purchase is generally cheaper than buying a comparable single family home as well as much of the exterior maintenance being organized and paid for by the home owners association. These are two reasons that some home buyers find buying a condo enticing.
As much as that can be attractive to some home buyers it can come with some downsides that can be a turn off for other home buyers.
Why NOT To Buy A Condominium
One of the biggest downsides of owning a condominium for some people is giving up control. When you own a condominium there are a couple of ways that can happen. While giving up certain control can be a plus for some, it can be a major downside for others.
Others Making Decisions for You
Buying a condo also means you are buying into a community managed by others. Ultimately you are giving up all the control of what happens outside of the condo unit you purchase and even a little bit of control of what can happen in your unit.
There is a board of trustees that manages the day to day operation of the condominium and they are governed by the declaration of trust and bylaws.
The board of trustees spend money, decide what repairs to to do, make changes to the rules and manage the complex as they see fit. Often the board of trustees make decisions with little or no input from the rest of the community.
A considerate, well run board can make it easy and a rogue out of control board make thing miserable.
Rule and Regulations
Buying a condo also means you are buying into a set of rules and regulations. Before you purchase a condo you should have the opportunity to review the declaration of trust, bylaws and rules and regulations.
Yes, there are rules. Rules can encompass the types and size of pets you can have, whether you can attach a satellite dish to your unit, quiet times and much more.
The rules of a condominium will encompass many things that you would not even consider if you owned a single family home.
While the rules are meant to create a community where everyone can enjoy and maintain a certain look, some people just hate rules. Breaking the rules continually can lead to heavy fines from the Board of Trustees.
Condo or HOA Fees
Most condominiums come with HOA fees to cover ongoing maintenance and repairs and to fund a reserve fund for future replacement of items. Owning a single family home does come with the cost of maintenance but there are two differences.
First, you are not paying someone to manage that maintenance. Most complexes hire a management company and of course they are in and to make a profit. So maintenance may cost a bit more.
Secondly, as a member of the community you have little say about how and when that money is spent. You have handed over control to the board of trustees and the management company.
Living In A Fishbowl
Because of the nature of a condominium complex you are going to live in close proximity of your neighbors. There will always be someone up in your business….. noticing when you come and go, who is visiting, if you are violating any rules, etc…
Living in many condominiums is much like living in apartment with shared walls, ceilings and floors. You may get some residual noise and cooking smells from your neighbors, it may be impossible to avoid.
Privacy is a bit harder to achieve when buying a condo than when you purchase a single family home.
Outdoor Living Space Is At A Minimum
Living in a condominium usually means you are giving up outdoor living space. You probably won’t be able to garden, put out your lawn knick knacks and more. And, if you have children you wont be able to put up a swing and leave out everyday outdoor pay equipment.
Pet owners won’t have a nice area for their dogs to be let out in to do their business and play.
Most of the outdoor space is for common use and is generally fairly limited in use.
Who Shouldn’t Buy A Condominium
People Who Like To Maintain A High Level Of Control In Their Lives
If you are a person that like to maintain a high level of control over your life and surroundings, buying a condominium is probably not for you. Living in a condominium means much of the maintenance is controlled by others.
If you own a single family home and your roof need repairs, you decide when to have the work done, how much you will send and who will do the work. Not so in a condominium, others make those decisions.
You are counting on repairs be done in a timely manner. But the board of trustees may not have the same urgency that you do.
If You Don’t Like To Follow A Bunch Of Rules
Plain and simple their are rules to be followed as mention earlier. Check the extent of the rules and regulations to see how restrictive they are for a particular complex. Some have a ton of rule others don’t have many. Common rules that I see:
- No commercial vehicles parked overnight
- Pet restrictions
- No satellite dishes
- Assigned parking spots
- Noise levels
- What you can hang from your door or even put out as a welcome mat
- the list goes on……
But guaranteed whatever the rules are there is going to be that one person who makes sure everyone follows the rules. The fact that you pay all of this money for a home and it gets dictated to you what you can and cannot do can really eat at some people.
Not a good candidate for condo living.
If You Value Your Privacy
If you are a private person and don’t want to engage with neighbors or even more, have your neighbors notice whats going on in your life, maybe a condo is not right for you.
Often because of the close proximity of condos it is hard to go unnoticed. Someone will notice your comings and goings, who may be visiting, heck even what you could on the grill for dinner.
If you desire a high level of privacy than buying a condo may not be right for you.
If Your Outdoor Living Space Is Important To You
Many buyers want a home so they have their own little slice of the world to do what ever you want with. Living in a condo generally means very limited outdoor areas to enjoy.
You probably won’t be able to maintain even a small garden or have play equipment out for your kids. Forget about setting up a game of badminton or croquet if the family comes over.
A single family home with its own deeded lot will provide you with the freedom you are looking for that a typical condo does not have or will not allow.
Summary Of Why Not To Buy A Condo
Buying a condo certainly can have its advantages but for some people it could be a real turn off. For people who value a lot of privacy and like to maintain full control over most aspects of their life, buying a condominium might not be for you.
Remember every condominium is different and run differently. There are stand alone condominiums, condominiums with few rules and condominiums that are owner managed rather than managed by a third party.
It is important to understand the rules, the structure and what your condo fees are paying for before you make the final decision that buying a condo is the wrong decision for you or the right decision for you.
Other Real Estate Resources:
- Bill Gassett FHA Condominium Guidelines
- Jeff Nelson Ultimate Condo Buying Guide
- Debbie Drummond Should I Buy A High Rise Condo?
- Anita Clark Is Buying A Luxury Condo A Good Idea?
- US News Pro’s and Con’s of Buying A Condo
Why Not To Buy A Condominium- Condo Living 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.