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Is a Condo Right for You?
Whether you are just entering the housing market or an empty nester, you probably have considered buying a condo. Experts note that there are pros and cons to condos, including:
Location. If you want to live in the heart of a major city or if you are looking for a second home in a resort area, you probably will have many more condos than single-family homes from which to make your choice. In these areas, you usually have to pay more or move farther out in order to find a selection of single-family homes.
Money. Generally speaking, a condo costs less than a comparable single-family home. However, most condos have condo association fees to cover things like maintenance and repairs to the common areas. These fees can be relatively modest, but they also can be pricey, depending on the condo building and the services provided. Also, make sure that the condo you are considering has sufficient reserves to cover major expenses such as a new roof or boiler. Otherwise, you could be facing a hefty assessment.
Privacy. In a condo, like in an apartment, you share walls with your neighbors. You might also have people above and below you. That means, of course, that those people might disturb you when you are in your home. You can look for a condo that has extra soundproofing or that has rules about how late or how early residents can do things like play loud music or start a remodeling project. But you still will be living close together with other people. The plus side of that, of course, is that it can make it easier for you to meet people, make friends and be social. If that’s what you want, look for a condo that offers things like resident barbecues or happy hours, clubs, etc.
Maintenance. The fees you pay go for things like mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow and making certain repairs. That means that you don’t have to do those things yourself. That can be a big advantage if you are only there part-time, if you are older or in poor health, or if you are very busy. However, if you have always liked digging in your own dirt, you might not want to give up those chores. If that is the case, see if the condo has some space where residents can garden, for example.
Control. Many condo associations have lots of rules about things like how you can paint the exterior of your unit, what you can and cannot have outside – clotheslines are often prohibited, for example -- or what kinds of renovations you can make to the unit itself. If you have strong feelings about being able to do whatever you want to your home, a condo might not be for you.