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A Condo or a House? A Few Things to Consider

Aug 21, 2007
When you are looking at buying a residence, one of your considerations is whether to buy a home or a condo. These are some of the main issues to weigh when deciding which one is right for you.

Location:
Often in most markets, location can be improved if you get a condo over a house. It is generally true in most real estate markets that for the same price of a house away from the highly desirable locations of your town, you can find a condo closer in. When purchasing a house, especially those that are in sought-after locations, the price of the land is a huge part of the price, so you are mainly paying for land. With a condo, you are getting location, not a yard. This is of course a personal decision to make. Many people will choose to be a little further away from those hot-spots because they want a decent yard.

Quality:
Similarly, it is often the case that if you are on a limited budget, the condo route may provide you with a higher quality place. When purchasing a condo for a similar price as a home in the same area, you are putting that land cost into the quality of the condo. When you are comparing condos to other condos in a similar are, the biggest variable for the price is usually quality.

Views:
High-rise condos tend to market their views. Of course, the better the view, the more you pay. And some homes have pretty nice views too, but there are less of them. If it is a view you want, you might look at some condos.

Animals:
While you may love the views from your new downtown condo, little Rover might be happier with a yard full of sticks. If a condo is what you decide on and you have a couple dogs, check for a common area or a nearby park since walking the dog every day might require some nearby, convenient green space. If you go with a house, the solution is much simpler... just open the back door and your little buddy can run around all he wants with you having to make an event out of it.

Noise:
Though you may think you sound great on the bongo drums at 4 a.m., your neighbors might beg to differ. If you have a house, your yard can be a buffer zone for noise. If you have a condo, be prepared for some angry late night knocks on the door. This is also true vice versa. You might be the one knocking on someones door at 4 a.m. Every complex usually has a certain clientele, but even if you get a condo in a "quite" complex, new neighbors can change that quickly.

Size:
While you may want a cozy place now with a great view of the city, remember you'll never be able to add on or expand with a condo. A house, on the other hand, can grow along with you and your family.

Proximity:
Most condos are centrally located. This means you get access to all things downtown: buildings, shops, restaurants, theaters, etc. If these are things you frequent, it may save you gas and time as well as make you happier to be able to mosey downstairs and hang out with some coffee & a magazine without an out-of-the-way drive. Of course, this also means you get access to ALL things downtown: noise, traffic, crowds, construction, etc.

Maintenance:
With a condo, you don't have to do home repairs, painting, fixing the roof, mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, but instead you get to pay sometimes exorbitant HOA fees. Make sure the extra monthly expense you spend on maintenance is worth for you. Some people like the idea of not having to take care of anything and be free of the responsibility, but many times, you could hire someone to upkeep the outside of your home for less than HOA fees.

Appreciation:
Appreciation is a factor that will differ in each city, but it is an important component that should be mentioned. Ask your real estate agent what the trends are in your town. Does a house appreciate faster than a condo? Is there more demand for one over the other? These are typical questions for any real estate purchase but the line between condo and house may be more pronounced.
About the Author
Ki Gray is a broker in working in the Texas Austin Real Estate market. If you are looking for an Austin home, he can help you in your search. His site also has a description of the downtown Austin condos coming up in Austin along with a free Austin MLS Search .
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