A House or Condo

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 2:23 AM GMT
    I'm looking for some input/ advice/ experiences on which form of living you would choose and why. Would you choose a detached bungalow or condo? Price points are similar but the condo option is closer to the lake.

    I am in the market to buy and as a single guy I find it to be a hard decision. I would love a yard and privacy of a house but I find that it may be too much living space for just myself and my pup.

    I would love some feedback on your experiences and mostly the pros/cons on a condo/ house.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 2:41 AM GMT
    Never owned one, but I have lived in one.

    You can get used to space very quickly. Trust me.

    I currently live in a condo. The only reason I hate it is because it has such an awkward/small layout. Get over those two, and it is really good though.

    House maintenance is a real pain. And sometimes too much space is more of a burden because then you end up with too much stuff.

    If you like the condo, go for that, but if you feel like you are compromising too much, then go for the bungalow.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 2:58 AM GMT
    If you don't like doing yard work or don't like doing little repairs, get a condo.

    If you live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford unexpected large expenses like a blown water heater or leaky roof or busted pipes, get a condo.

    If you travel or work a lot and spend very little time at home, get a condo.

    If you don't mind being at the mercy of the Home Owners Association and paying the monthly dues, get a condo.

    Personally, I prefer the freedom of a house. Also, don't like sharing walls. Also, prefer to have a garage where I can park my toys. Also, prefer a backyard to entertain in the summer. Also, like the fact that houses tend to have better resale values. So it makes it easier for me to upgrade later on.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:16 AM GMT
    House owner here. I also don't want any shared walls.

    But the biggest problem for me with condos is the home owners association (HOA) fees. They're what pay for the gardeners, keeping up the outside, repaving the parking lots, pool maintenance, etc. And they'll keep raising those fees, for the rest of your life. And some of them aren't even managed well; I was hearing someone tell about how their mom was in a condo and the HOA was charging everyone a special (multi thousands of dollars per tenant) fee because the places needed a new roof. I thought that was supposed to be taken care of by the monthly HOA fee?

    You can even get stuck with HOA fees with a house. A friend of mine is in a house with an HOA and she's always complaining about them, mainly being busy bodies telling her that her yard isn't pretty and whatnot.

    And there's no such thing as "too much living space" in my opinion.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:21 AM GMT
    Condo = Overpriced, glorified hotel suite.

    House = Something you can build on, add to, subtract from, upgrade, downgrade, and have fun with.

    The choice is simple. icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:37 AM GMT
    Both have their good and bad points.

    Condos are nice if you are not handy, don't want to deal with yardwork and want to live in the city./downtown area

    On the other hand, they can be hard to sell when the time comes (if you're not in a high demand area) and you have to pay HOA and maintenance fees. Depending on the condo, they can sometimes have other surprise fees, like if they decide to paint or re-do the exteriors in any way.

    Houses will give you far more space for the buck and actual tangible property that you own. You will have a yard and much more freedom to do as you please.

    Downside is that you are responsible for all repairs and upkeep. Some of those can be expensive, like replacing a roof or a furnace (though careful buying can help to avoid that fate for a while).

    If given a choice, I would choose a house again hands down.

    Unless you get a really nice (read: expensive) condo, many look like apartments (and in some cases, used to be apartments that they converted).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:39 AM GMT
    House has almost total privacy. condos do not. But I would go with LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Whichever is better. Future will hold value
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:58 AM GMT
    An advantage of condo assessments for work required to maintain a building's functionality and value (required on both houses and condos) is that they can offer financing options to unit owners without the credit to secure an individual loan that might not be available to a single family homeowner.

    A disadvantage is that a homeowner is free to perform updating and maintenance as required whereas a condo unit owner is subject to decisions of a committee. That can result in a large assessment to get a lot of work done at one shot which can seem shocking at the time because it isn't spread out over time as a homeowner can do. For instance, while a condo is fixing the plumbing and hvac and roofing they might decide that since they're tearing the place up, what better time to paint, re-carpet, redo the lobby, etc.

    Either can be a good decision depending on your preferences and requirements. In both cases know the building's condition but with a condo note also the common areas. For a house know your finances. For a condo know yours and their finances. Do your due diligence.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 4:03 AM GMT
    Best of both worlds would be a freestanding condo house. That would be a house in a community where your dues and maintenance covers roof, siding and landscaping - common in 55+ (retirement) communities.

    A female friend, 49, was vacillating between what she called a "beach bungalow" and a ground floor condo. My advice was simple: "A ten minute bike ride to the beach doesn't make the house a beach bungalow. It's a house. You couldn't maintain your last house, you don't have time to maintain a house and yard. With your bad back there are some days you can barely walk. With a house you'll have to go through the hassle and expense of eventually moving yet again but you can age into the condo and never need to leave, forever building equity. The condo is on the ground floor with no steps, it's fully renovated, it has three exposures of green views and shares only one wall. It's a one bedroom but 1200sf with a fireplace. The condo feels like a house. Because it's in the best location you won't need a car because you can walk to the MetroNorth train station, shopping and the wetlands where you can kayak to Long Island Sound in ten minutes. There's nothing to do and no surprises, it was completely redone. There are also very few condos in the area, where most houses are either your budget of $250K or $2M, so there will always be demand for them. Usually I'd advise against condos since they're worse investments than houses but I don't think that's the case here. Go for the condo."

    She's closing on the condo in two weeks.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 4:55 AM GMT
    It also depends on the construction. I've seen all kinds of tract houses, from dirt-cheap pre-fabs to McMansions that are built with cheap frame construction, six feet apart. Why pay for that when you can lay in bed and hear your neighbors breathing? A condo with heavy masonry separating walls would be better. Of course, all of the apartments I ever rented had nothing at all between the units. US building codes are just a scam.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:17 PM GMT
    Well, I've had both - - condo and house(s) and I can offer a candid observation of the pros & cons of each. Here are just a few:

    House - Pros: Privacy, your own garage, backyard, front yard, no shared walls, no using an elevator to come & go. You have nobody below or above you - and can make more noise than in a condo. You may plant enough shrubs to make your grounds private and enjoy peace from your neighbors.

    Cons: When something breaks, YOU repair it (like roofs, expensive plumbing leaks under your lawn, etc). Bad neighbors: If you have this problem, you're at the mercy of the police to solve it. Neighbors who won't keep up their property: A big problem and you may just have to just suck it up. No association to go in an mow / clean up a bad neighbor's place and fine him. You basically have to do all of your yard work and pool maintenance, or pay to have it done.

    Condo - Pros: Privacy in your unit, with a feeling of seclusion if you're up high - - nobody sure if you're home or not. Everything clean and well maintained (usually) and the gardens in good shape always. You truly don't have to do any maintenance except for your own terrace - if that. You come and go - and everything is taken care of. If you have a pool & tennis court, they're both taken care of for you.

    Cons: You don't have any backyard or grounds to enjoy - usually just a patio or terrace. You usually don't have a garage of your own - right off the kitchen. You might miss all that storage, because in a condo - you may have two parking spaces in a garage - and a small storage locker. If you have a bad HOA, beware. They can be fair and terrific, or ruthless. Also - you get sick of paying the monthly assessments AND the yearly special assessments. Warning: As a young condo owner, older residents may "honor" you by putting your name up for a condo board position. You feel "honored" and begin to serve with pride - - - until the problems, headaches, nasty letters and other fighting of the residents. This isn't always the case, but it certainly is the case in many developments. If you're on the board, you have headaches to contend with sometimes. If you're lucky enough to be president of the board (what an honor that was!) beware. You deal with attorneys and letters, unhappy complaining owners, etc. What I learned: If I ever own another condo - I'll stay OFF the board!
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Jun 11, 2013 3:26 PM GMT
    I had a very small house in the Chicago suburbs, and when I moved here I bought a HUGE condo. It was a foreclosure, and it had significant work required, but it was twice as big as my house and I can walk to work and to the gym (and most anywhere).

    I'm getting used to (again) having shared walls, though I'm lucky because this place is virtually soundproof (which I checked out beforehand - for their protection from me! icon_wink.gif ). Most condos/townhouses are not soundproof.

    And then I'll echo the comments about the Board. I've JUST SAID NO. A couple of friends who owned condos and told me all about those headaches.

    I'm in an unusual situation though because these condos were huge and luxurious, so the people who've owned since they were built had the money to stick it out, and the people like me who didn't have the money but bought as the market slid are energetic and have enough job-responsibility to be able to pay a house-price (including the association dues) to live here. So all in all it's a good group, at least what I've experienced for the past six months.

    And the only thing I feel cheated out of living here instead of in a single family house is what I've been ogling on the HOT LAWN GUYS topic thread! Can't drive down my street and enjoy that kind of scenery!!! icon_rolleyes.gif
  • MarvelBoy23

    Posts: 279

    Jun 11, 2013 3:46 PM GMT
    Condo's are overrated. They can slap you with a Special Assessment whenever they have to, and you're at their mercy to pay it.

    It's like living in an apartment, but now you are responsible for other people's idiotic behavior. If it happens within your walls, you are responsible for repair. Condo associations won't just pay to get whatever your issue is fixed. Just because you're paying a monthly assessment, doesn't mean you aren't held responsible for damages. In fact your damages could cause you to be responsible for damage into other units as well.

    More of a hassle than it's worth.

    Detached house any day of the week. Plus the resale of condos isn't so hot these days. Unless you plan on being in that condo for a very very long time, I'd go with the house. You have much more freedom and space, you don't need permissions from the board to have workers in your unit (if the need arises). That's my take at least. I love my house, and if it were in a different state, I'd probably stay in it forever, it's large enough for us to have a family, we have a couple large dogs, a huge garden, peach, cherry and nectarine trees, a fire pit.... The list goes on...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 3:46 PM GMT
    xrichx saidIf you don't like doing yard work or don't like doing little repairs, get a condo.

    If you live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford unexpected large expenses like a blown water heater or leaky roof or busted pipes, get a condo.

    If you travel or work a lot and spend very little time at home, get a condo.

    If you don't mind being at the mercy of the Home Owners Association and paying the monthly dues, get a condo.

    Personally, I prefer the freedom of a house. Also, don't like sharing walls. Also, prefer to have a garage where I can park my toys. Also, prefer a backyard to entertain in the summer. Also, like the fact that houses tend to have better resale values. So it makes it easier for me to upgrade later on.


    very much exactly as he said!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 10:13 PM GMT
    Thanks everyone for your feedback. All those cons on condo ownership are very unappealing. It seems like a no brainer then...

    I love yard work, pretty handy with fixing things (benefit in growing up in a construction based family) and a garage is a huge bonus!

    Though I work long 12-14 hours a day and travel a bit because of work (sometimes gone for 2 weeks) hence why I am considering the condo option.

    I would love to have a piece of nature in my back yard and sharing walls is never a good thing....

    I spoke with my friend/realtor today and he said that a bungalow suits me and will allow me to put my own touch into the property.

    Nevertheless, we will see a few penthouses and bungalows this weekend just to see what my options are.

    Thanks again guys.
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Jun 11, 2013 10:16 PM GMT
    Just remember: IF you decide to go house as opposed to condo, be sure to
    1) post your yardwork schedule
    2) do it shirtless!

    icon_twisted.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 10:28 PM GMT
    madsexy saidJust remember: IF you decide to go house as opposed to condo, be sure to
    1) post your yardwork schedule
    2) do it shirtless!

    icon_twisted.gif


    Hahaha! Yard work shirtless is a must or you end up with one of those farmer tans!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 10:43 PM GMT
    I have had a condo over decade. Would love to have a house with a back yard and fence for my boys.

    A condo is great if you do not like to worry about yard work. However, there is the neighbors literally right-next-door. If you do not like apartment living, you will not like condo living. There is also less personal choice with your outdoor appearance.

    The good thing of a condo is if you get a great quiet neighbor (on every side), they tend to live there for a while. The bad thing is if you get an asshole neighbor, they tend to live there for a while. And there tends to be more rules to live by than a house. Unless, your house is in an association. I recommend against these, like a condo association, the board can be stocked with control freaks.

    With a condo you are still responsible for ALL inside repairs. Some associations will pay for a repair if it caused by an out-of-unit reason. Most will not and you will end up paying for drywall, painting and anything else. You also replace your own appliances either home or condo.

    For a dog, I would recommend a house with a fenced in backyard.

    Recommendations for a condo would be one close to a large company These will sell much faster when the time comes and tend to be lower priced than many homes.

    Best
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 10:53 PM GMT
    I do not do yard work. I can do it but I feel like there are better ways of spending my time than raking leaves, mowing the lawn, etc. My solution is to hire a gardener. $30 a visit and he comes every two weeks. At first the idea irked me of paying someone to do something simple that I knew that I could do but I also knew that I wouldn't do it often enough. As one of my coworkers said, "Just think of it as sharing the wealth" and that's what allowed me to turn the corner and hire someone.

    Similarly, I will not do house cleaning. Until I hired a house cleaner my place was exceptionally bad. As bad or worse than the movie Animal House. The house cleaner also comes every two weeks. She's over twice as expensive; $65 for each visit. But again, it's really worth it and it's nice having a place where I can have visitors; before I did not allow people inside my place.

    And now that I have all this free time for "better ways of spending my time" what do I do? Spend time here on RJ, look at porn on tumblr, etc. Go figure.
  • Lucky350

    Posts: 167

    Jun 11, 2013 10:55 PM GMT
    Buy me one =)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 11, 2013 11:42 PM GMT
    Just moved into my condo a few months ago. I did my research and went with a company that had a great reputation. Sure there are condo fees but I don't like doing yard work and up keep. The condo has a gas line so you can get a bbq, and it has a very nice terrace. There's a roof top patio and we don't have a pool or heavy amenities that would drain the reserve funds. So far I'm super satisfied. I hear nothing above, below, or to the side of my unit since they use perfect soundproofing. I've been blasting my music at midnight with subwoffer and no complaints. Neighbors say they don't hear anything. I'm quite satisfied! Of course I did pay quite a bit for it icon_biggrin.gif

    I'm going to the turnover meeting next week. Thanks for starting this thread. I know now not to accept any position as a board member icon_smile.gif
    My job already involves herding cats, I don't want to go home and deal with them too lol.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 12, 2013 2:06 PM GMT
    A brand new condo building can look very appealing at the outset with low monthly "condo fees" however as the building ages and facilities, equipment, structural problems arise those monthly fees will begin to rise to the point where it can be like paying two mortgages. Another problem depending on location/condo regulations etc is that many of the units will be purchased by investors or out of towners and the units rented out. If one or two large investment firms purchase a block of units in a building they can basically control the condo board with their ownership votes. . No thanks.. stick to a detached house.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Jun 12, 2013 3:20 PM GMT
    I've had big houses with giant lawns and TOTAL privacy and I now live in a condo. Junk houses are horrible and junk condos are, too.
    Assuming you're talking about good quality in both, for me it boils down to two things: Do you like having people around or do you crave privacy, and do you like spending your time working in the yard. When I had the big house with extensive lawns and gardens, I had someone to cut the grass but I did the rest and normally, it would take the better part of a day each week to keep it looking great. When it looked great it looked spectacular and I was proud of that and enjoyed it. But it was also by design very private from the neighbors so basically when I pulled into the driveway, I would see no one until I left. I finally decided I would rather do other things than work in the yard on one of my two days off each week and that actually, it was kind of lonely. I like people and I like saying good morning to neighbors and commenting on their new boat or car or meeting their friend in from out of town. Either way you're going to pay for the maintenance so financially it works out about the same.
  • waynerd

    Posts: 32

    Jun 12, 2013 4:02 PM GMT
    I loathe HOA Fees and the entire organization. It's such a rip off and I really have no idea why people continue to live with them. As was mentioned before, they are a massive rip off and typically not well managed and rates constantly rise.

    I would go with a house that isn't associated with an HOA, hands down. There really isn't a thing as too much space, unless you're looking into a mansion and you just want/need simple. No shared space/walls and all of the space can be tailored to your needs and wants. If you want shared walls, just rent an apartment and save your money.

    Just make sure what ever you decide to get, get an inspection and go with them on the walkthrough before purchasing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 12, 2013 4:14 PM GMT
    My suggestion is to maybe look at a compound that has 3-4 units as most of those have a small yard (for the pooch). You would likely have an HOA or condo fee either monthly or quarterly to cover any maintenance and yard work. Most compounds have a pool and these types of set ups are generally more intimate versus a high rise condo with a thousand people living there. Great thing about a condo is that your insurance is usually bundled which can save you a bit of money. Me personally...I prefer a home as I want to be able to walk around naked in my backyard if I feel like it without shocking anyone. lol. Good luck to you!