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Buying a Condo May Be Smarter Than Buying a House

Feb 4, 2008
Many people don't realize that there is a big difference between buying a condo and buying a house. Depending on your home owner style, you may prefer to buy one or the other, but the fact is, going with a condo may actually be the better idea.

When you buy a house, you are purchasing not only the actual home, you are also purchasing the land it sits on. You are responsible for the upkeep of the house, its exterior and yard, if any. This can get rather expensive, and, in general, houses are more expensive to buy than condos. While you can customize the exterior of a house fairly easily and usually without complaints, you have to decide if this is important enough to take on the responsibility of a house.

Condos, on the other hand, are homes that share common land and walls. Though there are now instances of detached condos, the majority are still built in rows, somewhat like townhouses, with a common wall between them. When you buy a condo, you are purchasing the interior and will become part of a homeowner's association. The homeowners are jointly responsible for the property, requiring you to pay a monthly fee for upkeep and maintenance.

It's important to read the legal documents carefully because there are a lot of rules that go along with joint ownership of the condo complex. Each homeowner's association will have different rules and the paperwork can get pretty lengthy. There may be regulations against changing the exterior appearance of your home, even by planting flowers. If you don't do well with such strict guidelines, you'd be better off looking for a place that has looser ones.

That being said, there are some distinct advantages to purchasing a condo, over buying a house. For busy home owners, not having to actually deal with the upkeep and looks of their home can be a very good thing. In some cases, utilities such as water, gas and electricity are included in the monthly homeowner's fee, meaning a big savings in the long run.

In addition, condos tend to be cheaper to buy, in part because of the monthly fee requirement and in part because they are smaller than a regular house. Still, a condo is an excellent choice, particularly for young, single people or young couples who are looking for something comfortable that requires minimal upkeep. This can be an excellent way to start out your life in your own home. You have the benefits of home ownership, without all the responsibilities that go along with owning property. Security and living stability, but the maintenance is taken care of.

Condos are not right for everyone, but they can be a good choice for anyone looking to own a place without having to take care of it much. Just be sure to look carefully at the documents before signing anything and you'll be fine.
About the Author
Seb Frey is a Capitola, California Real Estate Broker specializing in Santa Cruz Real Estate. He is fluent in Spanish and enjoys helping people find their piece of the American Dream in Santa Cruz. You can find Seb's blog at SantaCruzHomeBroker.com/blog.
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