Choosing your next address – House or Condo?

Finding a place that you can call “home” will be the most life-altering decision that has to be taken after good amount of research. It is absolutely necessary if you are a first time buyer, or if you are looking to move for the umpteenth time. There are certain questions that you need to answer when you are out on the hunt for a good residence which would fulfill all your needs.

Home buyers often struggle with deciding whether a single family home is the answer for them, or if they should invest in a condo. The answer always lies within you, and you have to ask yourself the right questions after doing good amount of research. Buying investment property of either type has its pros and cons that only you can weigh according to your lifestyle.

If you are a newlywed couple in your 30?s, with high-paying jobs and no kids, then perhaps a penthouse apartment might appeal to you. Michelle and Kevin Millsom did exactly that when they were out looking for a place to call home. They preferred the city life and the gorgeous view that the Charles River in Boston offered.

The Millsom’s made a conscious decision when they were tracking down the possible locations in the city, because they enjoyed the city life – the restaurants, the outdoor concerts, theatres. For them, living in a condo apartment also meant convenience of having the airport close by, because they both travel a lot for work.

While the Millsom’s ended up at a place that offered them the chance to live their dream lifestyle, however it did not come without a price. For the price they paid to buy their 2-bedroom/2-bath condo unit could have been used to buy a home thrice the size of the penthouse. This shows that people have to think beyond the preset ideas to grab hold of better opportunities that exist out there.

Their decision to buy a home in the form of the condo also means they share “ownership decision making” with the other 14 tenants living in the complex, and pay high insurance, maintenance and condo fees. By buying investment property in the heart of the city, they eliminated a lot of driving. However, they car now remains idly parked in a parking spot costing them $300 per month to rent!

If you are like Adriana Forte, 62 and divorced, then a condo may not work for you. Adriana invested in her 2-family “condex” thinking that it will be hard for her to maintain a single family home just by herself. But she now regrets the decision.

With only a single wall separating her from her night-life-loving neighbors, she finds their night life intrusive and disturbing for her as she tries to wind down her day. Investing in a duplex, Adriana has to manage and maintain it anyway – something she was afraid she couldn’t do in a single-family home. In hindsight, it is better to have a home with a backyard garden would have given Adriana the privacy she now craves.

What’s good for someone else might not be good for you. Before you make your final decision particular option, take stock of the following:

  • Location, location, location. Look for areas where you want to live, and check out if there are any other single-family homes and condos are an option there.
  • Deciding whether you value your privacy, or if you are comfortable living next door or nearby to other dwellers will impact your final decision.
  • One factor that will impact decisions on a particular piece of property is the way it relates to how much independence you want in deciding what’s best for your home. If you are okay with shared, collective-decision making, then condos might be for you. If not, it’s a home that you want.
  • Repairs and Maintenance is a major factor when making your final decision on the property. If you love fixing leaky faucets, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, then a house might be good for you.
  • The amounts of money you have available for a particular piece of property will mostly determine whether you can afford a condo or an independent townhouse.

The above are some broad guidelines to consider when taking the first steps into a new world that you can call home. The main thing to realize is that you should always make an informed and educated decision when buying investment property. Then, if that decision needs changing because of lifestyle or circumstance changes, you can always sell and think anew about a place that matches your new realities.