Whether you are thinking about a long-term home or something that will simply keep you for a few years, you'll find that a condo might be exactly what you are looking for. Like a house, it builds equity, but generally they're less expensive than a home and they come with several interesting benefits. Like any housing situation, it has its benefits and its disadvantages, but while a condo might not be perfect for everyone, there is a chance that it is perfect for you. Take a moment to learn the basics of owning a condo and find out if this is the housing solution you have been looking for.
So What Is a Condo?
The first thing you need to understand is that a condo is not necessarily a specific type of building. Instead, it refers to a condition where you own a portion of a building that is shared with others. For example, a condo might be a townhouse connected to other townhouses, one half of a duplex or one third of a triplex, a standard unit in an apartment building that is owned instead of rented or even a single-detached house. The thing that separates a condo from a rental apartment is ownership.
What Are You Paying For?
When you pay for a house, you are paying for the entire home and the ground that it sits on. When you pay for an apartment (as in renting), you are paying to lease a space for a specific amount of time. In a condo, you own your unit, which is registered in your name. Though you own your unit, you will share ownership of public spaces and services in the building
The extent to which you own your space varies from place to place. For example, ownership might mean that you have the responsibility to take care of the windows or that responsibility might belong to the condo's management team. Do you own the land that your condo sits on? Do you own the yard in front of your condo? The terms of ownership are all discussed in your contract. If you want to be sure about what you are actually buying, it can be a good idea to get a professional surveyor to figure out where your property lines are, especially if you have a patch of lawn or garden to consider.
What Are These Condo Fees You Keep Hearing About?
In addition to paying the mortgage on your condo, you will find that there are also monthly condo fees that need to get paid. These fees are part and parcel of condo ownership, but again, like the question of what it is you actually own, they will vary from place to place. In general, your condo fees will pay for the amenities and the upkeep of your building where your unit rests. They will pay for maintenance to the building and for public spaces like the laundry room, the gym, the lawn, the elevator and the lobby.
You should be able to get an itemized list that tells you what your condo fees are paying for. Some of these fees are negotiable, but some are not, so keep an open mind. Condo fees are part of being a condo owner, which brings us to...
What Are My Responsibilities as a Condo Owner?
In addition to basically maintaining your own space, as a condo owner, you are now a part of a corporation. As an owner of the property, you can be held liable for things that go wrong. You now have the ability and the responsibility to keep track of regulations and go to meetings regarding policy and where money should go. Essentially, when you sign up for a condo lease, you are making yourself part of a community over which you have power and which has power over you.
When you are in a place where home ownership is interesting but you don't care to give up the convenience of apartment living, a condo is a great choice!
Photo credits: shutterstock.comPosted by Terry Paranych on