Tips & AdviceThings to Think About When Choosing Between a House and a Condo

Things to Think About When Choosing Between a House and a Condo

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When you are in the process of buying property, one of the first things you will need to consider is the type of property you want to purchase. In a country with more than 100 million possible places to live, you’ll find that you have many different options available to choose from.

Two of the most common types of properties you might consider include a house and a condo. And as you’d probably expect, each of these properties will have various pros and cons. In this brief guide, we will discuss the most important things to keep in mind when comparing your available options.

What is the Difference Between a House and a Condo?

Both houses and condos are classes of properties that you can own. This makes both classes of properties distinct from rentals, such as an apartment. However, there are still a few important differences to keep in mind when comparing a house versus a condo.

The main difference between a house and a condo is that with a house, you own the entire building, as well as the land the building sits on. On the other hand, with a condo, you would only own a portion of a building and usually none of the actual land beneath it.

Even when a property is connected to another, such as a duplex or some other type of multi-family home, as long as you own the land beneath it, the property will be considered a house.

There are a few additional trends that distinguish a house from a condo. For example, houses are more likely to have yards (though there are plenty that do not). They also typically incorporate more square footage. While likely smaller than houses, Condos are more likely to include access to common areas and amenities, such as a pool or gym. Condos are also more likely to have homeowners’ association fees.

Of course, as you’d probably expect, these general characteristics don’t apply to all houses and condos. And, with both property classes lacking a universal and “formal” definition, there are plenty of properties that seem to be difficult to classify. Nevertheless, keeping these general points in mind will make it easier to determine which property class is right for you.

Benefits of Buying a House

When deciding whether you want to buy a house or a condo, there are a few key things you will want to keep in mind. Your budget, current family structure, location, and goals as a property owner might all affect which property type you buy.

Here are some of the most common reasons people choose to buy a house instead of a condo:

Square Footage and Property

In most situations, houses will have more square footage than a condo. Additionally, house owners will also be able to own the land their property sits on. Compared to condos, houses are more likely to have additional bedrooms, yard space, a garage, and other features that require a large amount of square footage.

Minimal Fees

Depending on the location and the amenities that are included, condo owners might be subject to a steep Homeowners’ Association (HOA) fee. The fee might even be as high as the mortgage in some cases. While many houses in residential communities also have monthly HOA fees, they will usually be much lower.

Privacy

By having your own, detached property, you will be able to enjoy an added layer of privacy and little noise.

Easier Resale

Typically, there is more demand for houses than condos, though there are many exceptions to this rule. Still, if you are a house owner, you can typically expect to sell it in about half the time you could sell a condo.

Higher Property Appreciation

While it will often cost more to buy a house than buy a condo, you can also expect a higher return on your investment. Due to the sizeable underlying principle, houses will often increase in value by tens of thousands of dollars a year (especially lately).

These are just a few reasons people might choose to invest in a house rather than a condo. However, there are still plenty of benefits of condo ownership, as well.

Benefits of Buying a Condo

Here are just a few of the reasons people might consider buying a condo rather than buying a house:

Affordability

In most cases, a condo costs less than houses in the same neighborhood (though you should also expect the condo to be smaller). This makes condos an excellent option for first-time homebuyers, buyers with a strict budget, or prospective buyers hoping to buy in a specific neighborhood.

Amenities

The HOA fees attached to most condos aren’t for nothing—you’ll also find they come with many perks. This might include access to a pool, a gym, parking, security services, work areas, playgrounds, other public spaces, etc.

Limited Maintenance

In addition to the available amenities mentioned above, many condos also include maintenance services for all residents. Depending on the dynamics of the condo, that might consist of lawn maintenance, repair staff, and even basic utilities. So if you are looking for a bit more of a stress-free living experience, you might want to consider purchasing a condo.

Price Stability

Though condos and houses both fluctuate in value, condos usually experience less volatility. This makes it easier to predict how much you could potentially sell your unit for in the future. Additionally, the property taxes and homeowner’s insurance for owning a condo tend to be lower.

Some people consider a condo a “hybrid” of a house and an apartment, though this tends to oversimplify the condo ownership experience. When you have a condo, you are the owner—and ownership of anything always comes with both benefits and responsibilities. 

Things to Consider When Making Your Decision

There is no universal answer to whether owning a house or a condo will be better. And it is fairly easy to see that ownership of either type of property will have its share of benefits. However, if you still haven’t decided which might be best for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your current budget?
  • Is there a specific neighborhood you want to live in? What are the housing options like there?
  • How much space do you need? Do you want a yard?
  • Do you care about any particular amenities? And are you willing to pay an HOA fee?
  • How long do you plan to live in this particular property?
  • What are your general goals as a property owner? Do you have a target ROI in mind?

By taking the time to explore your options, you’ll be much more likely to find the perfect fit. Both the condo and housing markets have been performing well over the past few years, and with limited supplies of both in circulation, prospective buyers can expect the value of their properties to increase.

Andrew Paniello
Andrew Paniello
Andrew is a freelance writer that primarily focuses on real estate and finance topics. He graduated from the University of Colorado with degrees in Finance and Political Science and has since worked in the real estate, life insurance, and digital marketing industries. When he is not writing, Andrew enjoys skiing, playing piano, painting, and spending time with his wife (Maggie) and cat (Crow).

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