Buying your first home is an exciting experience. It also requires a significant amount of planning and decision-making. You will need to save up for a down-payment, ensure your credit score is where it needs to be, and decide on the type of home to purchase.
When weighing your options, it’s important to consider things like:
- Initial and ongoing financial layout
- Maintenance requirements
- Desired location
For many first-time home buyers, buying a condo may be the best choice. Before making a decision, consider the following pros and cons to condo ownership.
Advantages of Choosing a Condo for Your First Home
Since condos are typically smaller than traditional free-standing homes, they are best suited for individuals, couples, and small families. The smaller size often translates to a lower asking price.
The ability to purchase your first home without having to make a huge initial financial outlay can be one of the primary advantages of buying a condo. Here are just a few more of the potential upsides.
Lower Maintenance Expenses
Condo owners are only responsible for a portion of the home’s maintenance fees. This can be advantageous for new homebuyers who don’t yet have a significant amount of savings to cover unexpected expenses.
Variety of Floor Plan Options
There are many layout options when considering the purchase of a condo. This includes:
- Multi-storey townhome
- Multi-unit high-rise
- Traditional multi-level
With a little bit of effort, it’s not hard to find a condo to meet just about any style preference. Once you own your first home, you can start incorporating the latest design trends and home comfort ideas to truly make the space your own.
Faster Resale Potential
In a struggling housing market, condos tend to sell faster than single-family homes. This is primarily due to the lower asking price.
To ensure the best possible resale value, look for a condo that is in a good school district, is well designed, and has been properly maintained.
Purchasing a single-family home on the beach, in a big city, or at a popular ski resort is usually out of the question for a first-time homebuyer. However, condos in the same locations are often far more accessible. This can allow you to live a high-end lifestyle at a fraction of the cost.
Your condo may come with amenities that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. Depending on the community you choose, you may be able to enjoy:
- Golf courses
- Tennis courts
- Fitness communities
- Boat dock access
- Beachfront property
It’s common for condo developments to feature security measures like gated entrances, doormen, and on-site security. This can be especially valuable for those living alone or anyone who is concerned about the safety of their families.
Sense of Community
Many condo owners enjoy sharing a strong sense of community. Some developments host regularly-scheduled social events, allowing you to really get to know your neighbors. This is more common in developments that have a larger number of permanent renters.
Possible Drawbacks to Condo Ownership
Before jumping into condo ownership, you must be aware of some potential drawbacks. Having a clear understanding will help you to easily manage the issues.
No Building or Land Ownership
When evaluating a potential condo purchase, remember that you are not buying the building itself. You are simply purchasing the space inside. Make sure you are comfortable with this and that the asking price is appropriate for what you are buying.
If the price of the unit is so high that it’s comparable to a single-family home, you may want to reconsider.
Homeowners associations typically have a laundry list of community rules. This often covers topics like pet ownership, parking, and outdoor decorations. It’s recommended that you read the rules very carefully to ensure there isn’t anything in there that you won’t be able to live with for the long-term.
When you buy a condo, you are also purchasing a shared portion of the surrounding spaces. This includes sidewalks, parking lots, landscaping, and recreational areas like a community gym, pool, or spa.
To cover the maintenance of shared spaces, condo owners are obligated to pay a monthly homeowners association fee. Condo buyers must ensure that they add this cost into their monthly budget.
It’s also common for associations to levy “special assessments” to cover additional costs. These assessments, which can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, may cause serious problems for first home buyers who don’t have a lot of extra cash.
Due to association approval processes, maintenance requests may be delayed for extended periods of time. This can cause aesthetic and safety issues. Furthermore, properties that aren’t properly maintained may start to lose their value.
If a dispute between condo owners and the homeowners association reaches an impasse, the owners could potentially bring forth a lawsuit. This could lead to serious problems with your ability to refinance your mortgage loan or sell your condo unit.
Lack of Privacy
There are many advantages to having neighbors close by. However, some people feel that it can result in a lack of privacy. If you’re bothered by having neighbors on the other side of your wall or walking around the hallway at all hours of the day, condo living may not be right for you.
The Bottom Line
Most first home buyers who decided to purchase a condo will agree that the advantages well outweigh potential downsides. Now that you’re armed with a solid understanding of condo ownership, you have the tools you need to evaluate whether it’s a good choice for your situation.
Before making a final decision, remember to ask smart questions, closely evaluate your options, and, above all, always trust your gut.