Definition: an apartment house, office building, or other multiple-unit complex, the units of which are individually owned, each owner receiving a recordable deed to the individual unit purchased, including the right to sell, mortgage, etc., that unit and sharing in joint ownership of any common grounds, passageways, etc. (Dictionary.com).
The short answer: a condominium, or condo, is a type of real estate that allows you to buy part of a building, but not the land. As a condo owner, you own everything from the walls in -- but not the exterior, the land, or anything else. You have a "common interest" in the exterior with the other condo owners, and you always pay collectively through assessments to maintain the landscaping, parking lot, roof etc.
Pros and Cons of Buying a Condo
Like many things, condos can be good and bad. I personally own one, and it was my first real estate property purchase. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time and purchased a single family home or town home, but we can't live in the past, right? Just learn from the past and move forward.
There are lots of things to like a condo. Let's start with positives:
-- Easy to maintain. The management company hires landscaping companies, roofing companies, and just about anything else to maintain the exterior of your condo unit (including your deck).
-- Cheaper utilities. Because you're sharing a building, your unit will generally be more insulated and less exposed to the weather, therefore resulting in lower heating and cooling bills.
-- Neighbors! Well, I guess this could be good and bad. But with a condo, you do have neighbors, and you may feel safer and more cozy knowing that your next door neighbor is close. But the beauty of a condo is that unlike an apartment, you often times only have a neighbor above or below you -- not surrounded all around you.
-- Community amenities. Not all condos offer amenities, but many do. This includes you have a community pool, community park, community patios, and more. The plus side? You get all of this in your neighborhood. The downside? You pay for it as a condo owner. The more things your condo owns, the higher your monthly condo fee will be.
-- More affordable. Yes, condos are at much lower price points than a single family home. You can get a condo in Ghent for under $200,000, whereas as house in the same location might be $400,000.
Now that you've learned a little bit about the positives, let's talk about the negative side to condo ownership.
-- The condo fees. The condo fees always go up, very rarely down. The dues at my condo have risen every year since I bought it. They are close to $100 more each month than when I purchased. And guess what? We don't have a pool, a playground, or even a tennis court. Just reserved parking. Condo dues eat away at your buying power, and that's money you never see back. Condo fees can be anywhere from $100 to over a $1,000 per month.
-- You don't own land. Like I said, you own the inside of the condo unit. You're responsible for the inside -- the kitchen, bathrooms, plumbing, etc. But the condo association, which you're a part of, owns the land. You can't really enjoy the land or make your own garden, plant trees, or anything like that.
-- Condo management/strict rules. It's your house, and you can decorate how you want, right? I mean, it's America -- land of the free. Not in condo land. You are governed by a set of rules and regulations, often times which are very lengthy and may be worse than living in apartment. You feel trapped because you own the place, but then can't decorate your deck how you want. We once were threatened to be fined because my wife had chimes on our deck.
Investment note: As a general rule, condos are not the best real estate investment. Although every city is different, buying a condo in Virginia Beach or Hampton Roads is often times not the best real estate investment you could make.
Should You Buy a Condo?
In the end, it's a personal decision you have to make. There are certainly pros and cons to both, so I think part of your decision-making can be to weigh what's important to you and what's not. For many people, downsizing from their single family home to a condo offers a comfortable, social lifestyle similar to an apartment while still retaining ownership. For others, it's too restrictive and costly with the monthly condo fee that never goes away.
There are several other considerations to think about about when buying a condo. If you're interested in buying a condo, feel free to message me here or call me at 757-897-3538.
757-288-8680 | Southerland Real Estate, Inc. | 638 Independence Pkwy., Suite 240, Chesapeake, VA 23320
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