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  • Pros and Cons (5 of each): Condo or House

    Do you remember that American dream of purchasing a home with a yard and a white picket fence? That dream is slowly fading out and being replaced with an "easier" lifestyle where you have the luxury to lock up your condominium and leave whenever you would like. The New York or downtown Chicago lifestyle is becoming more desirable. You live in a high rise, you do not own a car and, without children or pets to take care of, you can pretty much do whatever you want whenever you want.

    Although millennials are the first group of people who come to mind when you think of a low maintenance lifestyle, baby boomers are also in the market because they have already owned their big house in the suburbs and are tired of managing their properties themselves. Those who have had the privilege to live in a large home on an acre or more of land with a pool and maybe a guest house have experienced what it is like to maintain these properties. They become expensive. The more perks your home and yard offer, the greater the chance of headaches.

    The ultimate decision between purchasing a condo or house, should be looking at your lifestyle, your family and what is important to you. Although price, location and finances play a huge role in your final decision, the type of home you purchase needs to suite your family. If you are a single person who travels weekly or monthly then it might not make sense to purchase a home with a pool and a yard to maintain. If you are parents and have children, dogs, cats and a bird, then you may want a neighborhood for your children to ride bikes in and a yard for your dogs to run around in.

    The introduction of luxury condos, which are located within or close to city centers, are selling at a higher dollar per square foot than a single family home. In 2016 and year to date of 2017, the dollar per square foot has surpassed the dollar per square foot of a single family residence. Buyers are more interested in convenience than in caring for a house with a yard. 

    Single family homes are still desirable to many buyers and will never go out of style. Nothing will ever replace that neighborhood feel of quiet, peaceful, and the feeling of home. Children can play outside, ride bikes in the streets without worrying and trick or treat at Halloween.

    House vs Condo

    Have a look at the pros and cons for living in a condo or house. I hope this sheds some light if you are trying to decide what is best for you.

    Condo Pros
    1. Convenience. This is the sole reason attached homes are quickly on the rise and gaining popularity. Condos and townhouses typically offer a concierge service, a resort like vibe, community pools and spas, exercise areas, basketball courts, secured parking garages, an on site dry cleaner and, possibly, an on site dog park.

    2. Homeowners Association Fees. The HOA (homeowners association) takes care of any and all maintenance for the resident. The residents pay a set amount each month and maintenance of the grounds, pool, spa, the roof, termites and trash is taken care of. Here in Phoenix and Scottsdale, HOA fees can be over $1,000.00 a month in some cases.

    3. Amenities. In this day and age, people want everything to be easy and at the touch of their fingertips which is what these high rises or luxury condo buildings offer. Between the BBQ area, the pool and spa, the fitness center and, sometimes, the in house restaurant, your reasons to go elsewhere dwindle. Why pay for a gym membership if you have an awesome gym in your building? Why own a house with the headache of the pool when you can pay someone else to deal with it and have it feel like a 5 star hotel?

    4. Location. High rise condo buildings are located in desirable locations, typically downtown areas. Residents can easily walk to restaurants, entertainment and, possibly even, to work everyday. Errands that residents need to run will still be a car ride away.

    5. On Site Security. Twenty four hour surveillance is typically available. Some properties have cameras throughout while others have security guards patrolling the premises. There are properties that have both! With on site security guards and cameras, residents tend to feel safer knowing that the garages are being closely watched as well as the exterior of the property.

    Condo Cons

    1. You Do Not Own the Land. In Phoenix, a lot of condo complexes are apartment complexes that were renovated and have been turned into condos. In some cases, there are condos that have a little yard and you do own the land. In majority of Phoenix complexes, you simply own the interior of your unit. For some buyers this is a big deal and for some it is not.

    2. Homeowners Association Fees. As I stated previously, these monthly expenses can be pricey. The worst part is that there is always a chance for them to increase every year if the board of the HOA decides that the complex/community is in need of more money. Not only do you risk paying more every year, but it is a bill that does not go away. Some people are not fans of HOA's because they feel that they are constantly being watched and/or do not like being told what they can and can not do.

    3. Amenities. To some buyers, the on site amenities are music to their ears while others see the amenities as perks that will never be used. Take a look at what suits you best. Not every resident needs, wants or will use all of the amenities offered, but it is part of the convenience factor of living in a condo. I suppose it is nice to at least have the option.

    4. Limited Space. If you like your space, this might not be the right choice for you regardless of how convenient it is. Living in a condo can be very tight on space; without coat and linen closets, you might have to have creative storage solutions or purge. Some units might have an outside storage room on the patio, but, in the Arizona heat, you have to be careful what you put out there.

    5. Noisy Neighbors. When you live in a building, there is always a chance you will hear your upstairs neighbors, next door neighbors or the people who live behind you. There is no guarantee that you will be surrounded by quiet neighbors. They may smoke cigarettes, play loud music, have parties, cook odd smelling food and, unfortunately, it's all out of your control.

    Single Family Home Pros

    1. You Own the Land. I think it is pretty obvious, but, just as a reminder, when you purchase a house, you purchase the land as well. It might be a 6,000 SF lot or a 2.5 acre lot. This is where the term “lot value” comes from. The actual house might be dilapidated and need to be completely torn down, but the location of the lot is what holds the value. 

    2. Homeowners Association Fees. Not every single family house is located within a homeowners association. You can choose a home within an HOA or choose to stay away. The role of the HOA is to make sure that the community is orderly. Trash cans are brought in from the streets in a timely manner. Exterior paint colors are neutral and fit the neighborhood. If there is a community pool, then the HOA covers those fees. If you are not a rule follower, then make sure to look for a home that is not within a homeowners association.

    3. Value Appreciates. Typically with time, the value of the land will increase, especially if it is in a great location. When purchasing a home, keep in mind that you want to see the house and its selling features as well. If the house backs to a major road, although it might not bother you, it may be harder to sell down the road. If the house is located within an expensive HOA, it may deter future buyers from purchasing the house. My point is that no matter how much the land is worth, there are certain hindrances that will prevent buyers from buying.

    4. Interior and Exterior Space. As a homeowner, you will have more space inside your home as well as a front yard and back yard. With upgrades, you may have a pool, spa, fire pit, built in barbecue, trees, grass, possibly a fountain or water feature and anything else you may want to add. Both the interior and exterior space is yours to make your own.

    5. Neighbors are a little further away. Even if the house you purchase is on a smaller lot, there will still be distance between you and your neighbors. When you share lot lines instead of walls, you most likely will not be hearing them inside their home. 

    Single Family Home Cons

    1. Maintenance. The upkeep of the exterior grounds includes yard maintenance, weekly pool service, bringing your own garbage out (heaven forbid!), garage door repairs , pest control and if you live in an HOA community that is a whole separate set of rules to abide by. The list of obligations needing a homeowners attention grows drastically hence the reason condo sales are increasing.

    2. Property Taxes. Thankfully, Arizona is a state that does not have extremely high property taxes. The annual property taxes will be more than a condo because your home is on a larger piece of land and you own the land.

    3. Insurance. If you use a lender to purchase your new home, most likely the lender will require the buyer to purchase homeowners insurance. If you pay cash for your house, it is completely up to you if you want it or not.

    4. Repairs. Although interior repairs are always the homeowners responsibility in a condo, exterior repairs, roof repairs, pool repairs, etc. are not. A condo owner is relieved of these and, in some cases, there is a concierge service with someone to repair interior items. As a homeowner, your house is your responsibility inside and out. I must say that it is a mindset shift if you are buying your first house and have always had a landlord to fix everything. You are now the landlord and you have to take care of everything.

    5. You do not have any control over the neighborhood. As much as people dislike living in HOA run communities, an HOA actually does some good. If you choose to live in a neighborhood without an HOA just be prepared that there is always a chance of having neighbors who do not keep up their yards or paint their houses crazy colors or with murals. I know that those seem like lame examples, but I have truly seen both many, many times.

    To each their own. Neither is right or wrong, each homeowner must decide what is right for themselves and/or their family. Regardless of what you choose, a condo or house, I think that buyers naturally gravitate toward one or the other so they look at other factors such as drive time to and from work, relation to family, friends, the gym and their social life, maybe even relation to the airport. Different things are important to different people which all help in the decision making of whether you should buy a condo or a house.

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