What's the difference between purchasing a condominium and purchasing a house? What's the difference between buying a new condo on plan versus one that's already been built? What do condo fees cover? Does square footage really matter? This month, I'll be answering all of these questions and much more in my blog, as I explore the theme of condominiums (or "condos", for short).
Last week, I received an email message from a reader asking me whether or not it was more advantageous for him to buy a house or a condominium.
The truth of the matter is that it depends. There will always be single people who are moving out of the rental market, or away from the family home for the first time. There will also always be couples looking to purchase a condominium as their first home together. Fast forward a few years, and those same people might be ready to take that next step in their lives, to purchase a home and start a family. Then again, sometimes things don't quite turn out as planned and there's a need to sell the house and live in seperate condominiums quickly. Or, there's the empty nest syndrome, when all of the kids are grown up and moved out, and suddenly the idea of mowing the lawn just doesn't have the same appeal any more.
Long story short, purchasing a condo or a house is advantageous, and your decision to purchase either a condo or a house will largely depend on where you are in your life, and how you see your future unfolding.
Another important question to consider is, how much enjoyment would you get out of living in a condo or a house? The answer will be mostly contingent on your lifestyle. Does your job take you away for months at a time? Do you have any large pets? Do you have a growing family? Do you like being in the heart of the action? Or, do you prefer a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of working downtown? There are so many lifestyle options to consider.
If your job does takes you away from your home for months on end, you'll have to consider if a condo would be more advantageous in terms of lower maintenance compared to a house, and whether or not it's easier to rent your house or your condo while you're away, depending on the location. If you have large pets who need to stretch their legs a lot, maybe a yard is necessary - or maybe a park situated in proximity to a condo building would suffice. I'm also not saying that it's impossible to raise a family of five in a two bedroom condo - I actually know people who are doing this, or have done it. But there comes a sticking point where that type of proximity can either turn into a powder keg for interpersonal conflict, or a beautiful experiment in collaboration and compromise. It depends on your threshold for these kinds of things.
The factor of proximity to services is also an important one to consider. Houses are more commonly found in the suburbs or a bit further away from downtown core, whereas condos are more typically found in cities. The density, access to highways or public transportation, and general walkability of a neighbourhood will certainly have an impact on your life. Your idea of a short commute could be someone else's version of a drive, or yet another person's nightmare. Again, it depends.
Budget is also a consideration in the house vs. condo debate, but pricing often depends on all of the factors listed above. A house or condo in downtown Montreal may be more expensive than similar dwellings located further away. Or, you just might find a gem of a condo that is the same price here, as it is there. A skilled real estate broker can find you anything in your pricepoint, but that pricepoint may buy you something completely different, elsewhere. The first rule of real estate is, location ($), location ($$), location ($$$).
On the subject of budgets, yet another factor that might play a role in your decision making process between a house and condo are maintenance fees. Condo living comes with monthly condo fees which pay for the general maintenance of the condo building, special projects, and the building's contingency fund (also know as the "reserve fund"), in case of an emergency. Condo fees are paid by each and every one of your neighbours. The thing with houses is that the maintenance costs are all on you. Big ticket items such as the replacement of a roof, new windows or a hot water tank can be costly, but thankfully typically only come up once every 15-25 years. This is not to say that condo buildings don't have major repairs as well. As a building ages, you may be asked to contribute more money on top of your monthly condo fees for a short amount of time in the form of "special assessment fees", to pay for major works that need upgrading (installing elevators, replacing windows or repairs to the roof, doing brick work on a historic building façade). As Forrest Gump once said, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."
When deciding to purchase either a house or condo, there are certainly many factors for you to consider. As a real estate broker, my main questions for you are the following:
1. Where are you in your life path now, and where do you want to be in the future?
2. What is your lifestyle? Are you looking to maintain your present lifestyle, or are you looking for a change?
3. Location and proximity to services. To commute or not to commute?
In my experience, I've found that if the first three criteria are met, most people find that the satisfaction that they derive from their homes is actually far greater than the price they paid for them, because the lives that they are living are ultimately fulfilling, and they are exactly where they are supposed to be.
I guess that's the magic part of my job - helping you locate a place that you can call home, a place that makes your life more fulfilling.
Questions, comments, concerns, lost? Holler at me: email@example.com.