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Should you buy a condo or a house? Pros and Cons

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Ballard Fine Homes
September 27, 2023
Interior of living room with coffee table and white armchair, home design 3d rendering

It’s the age-old question: Should I buy a house or start with a condo? To answer that you will need to ask yourself what you want to get out of it. The answer will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and financial situation. We’ve outlined a few pros and cons for each, so you can have something to ponder while you have your morning coffee.

Advantages of buying a condo

Often are more affordable than single-family homes

Real estate prices are going up everywhere. Even Parksville condos are going up in price, so this effect is happening in smaller towns, too. In the race to own your piece of the real estate market, condominiums are usually more affordable than single-family, detached homes.
This is great for those with a lower budget or those looking to purchase their first home. It is a more affordable step into the real estate market without having to deal with the negatives of owning a detached home.

Condos often include amenities, like pools and gyms

Often there are additional perks with various condo buildings. Swimming pools, fitness centers, security, maintenance, and landscaping are often included in the monthly fees (more on that later). If you don’t mind sharing these amenities with your neighbours, it can be a great way to save some money as you aren’t buying monthly passes elsewhere.

Lower (and easier) Maintenance

Condos require less work to maintain than detached homes. Exterior maintenance, repairs, and landscaping are typically taken care of by the condo association.

Most condo owners don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn or storing yard tools because it is all taken care of for them already. The type of maintenance expected is to keep your home decently clean, and if you have an outdoor space like a patio you keep it respectfully clean and tidy.

Potential setbacks when owning a condo

HOA/Strata/Condo Fees

You’ve purchased a condo. Congratulations, it’s yours! Don’t think the spending ends there. Monthly or yearly fees like Homeowner Association (HOA) fees help pay for some of the perks of condo living, such as reduced maintenance and access to amenities.

If your building has a swimming pool, who is going to pay to fill and clean it? If it is heated, who pays the electricity bill? The answer: everyone. Through condo and strata fees, things like pool maintenance, landscaping, and general repairs and maintenance are paid for. In addition to monthly HOA fees, condo owners may be subject to special assessments if the association needs to fund significant repairs or improvements.

For some people, making such a large purchase only to have ongoing fees each month can be a bit of a burden. Sometimes buyers aren’t aware that these fees exist. Before purchasing a condo, ask to see what the monthly fees tend to look like.

Limited control over renovations and rentals

Condo owners have limited control over the property and must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the condo association, which may include restrictions on pets, renovations, or renting out the unit. While the BC Government has taken steps to lift most of these restrictions, some remain.

Less privacy and space

Whether it is a townhouse or a 30-storey building, you’re going to be sharing some walls with your neighbours. This can result in less privacy for you and your family, along with extra noise and limited space.

If you have great neighbours, then this isn’t as big an issue. However, it can feel claustrophobic for some people to be that close to other people all the time. Those that have a large family or young children may prefer to live somewhere with a lot more space, privacy, and room to grow.

Modern scandinavian living room interior.

Advantages of buying a house

More customizable options: custom home building, anyone?

Unlike condos, houses are generally subject to fewer rules and regulations, giving homeowners more flexibility.

It’s your home, you can design and decorate it however you want. If you feel like a custom renovation is needed to spruce up your kitchen or living space, then you can get it done without worrying about construction noise, strata restrictions, or taking up valuable space.

Interior and exterior designs, expansions, additional rooms, and personalized amenities are some of the many options available to homeowners.

Potential investment opportunities

When you own a house, you have the option to generate income by renting out a portion of the entire property. This can help offset mortgage payments or provide an additional source of income. Renting out a house can be particularly attractive in areas with high demand for rental properties. On Vancouver Island, finding an affordable home for sale in Nanaimo can feel like a treasure hunt. For that reason, rentals have become very popular and cannot keep up with the housing demand.

Furthermore, homeowners have the potential to leverage the property for other financial purposes. For example, you may be able to take out a home equity loan or line of credit, using the house as collateral, to fund other investments or projects. This can be advantageous if the property appreciates over time.

More control and privacy

One of the significant advantages of owning a house is the autonomy it offers. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to customize and modify your property according to your preferences.

You can make renovations, additions, or modifications to suit your lifestyle and needs. Whether it’s renovating the kitchen, expanding living spaces, or creating a home office, you have the flexibility to make changes without seeking permission from a condo association or dealing with restrictive rules.

Additionally, you have control over the outdoor spaces, including landscaping. You can design and maintain your garden, plant trees, or create outdoor living areas. This level of control allows you to create a personalized living environment and tailor the property to your specific tastes and preferences.

Often, homes are on larger properties and can be rural. This means they are more likely than a condo to be “off the beaten path” which can mean being surrounded by more nature, less traffic, and less noise. When there are fewer people around, there’s often more privacy.

Disadvantages of owning a home

Homes tend to cost more

Houses are often more expensive than condos, requiring a larger down payment and potentially higher mortgage payments. Homeownership also comes with additional costs like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

It takes money to keep the home running smoothly. As they are usually larger than condos, the costs tend to be higher in general across the board. For major repairs, you will have to pay for it yourself. This can be thousands of dollars. While major repairs do happen in condos, the cost is split between residents which makes it much more affordable. It is a larger responsibility to own a home, and this is one of the reasons.

More maintenance responsibilities

Don’t like mowing the lawn? You’ll either have to do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you.

When you own a house, you bear the responsibility of maintaining and repairing the property. This includes tasks such as landscaping, regular maintenance, and addressing any issues that may arise, such as plumbing problems, roof repairs, or electrical issues. You are solely responsible for the associated costs and the organization of necessary repairs.

Unlike condos, where some maintenance tasks may be taken care of by the condo association, homeowners must budget for ongoing maintenance expenses and invest time and effort into managing and addressing maintenance needs. It’s important to consider these factors when assessing the overall cost and commitment of owning a house.

Some examples of home maintenance tasks:

  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Inspect and replace caulking around windows and doors.
  • Trim trees and shrubs.
  • Check and repair plumbing leaks.
  • Clean and organize the garage or storage spaces.
  • Pressure wash exterior surfaces.
  • Inspect and repair damaged roof shingles.

Seal cracks in driveway and walkways.

The location might not be as good

While houses offer more space and privacy, they may be situated in suburban or rural areas, which can be further away from urban centers or desirable locations. This means that homeowners may face longer commute times to work or other amenities, such as shopping centers, restaurants, or cultural institutions.

Also, depending on the location, there may be fewer nearby amenities compared to living in a condo in a more urban setting. This can include a limited selection of schools, recreational facilities, or entertainment options within proximity. It’s essential to consider your lifestyle preferences and priorities when choosing between a house and a condo, as the location can significantly impact daily convenience and accessibility to desired services and facilities.

Ballard Fine Homes is here to help

At Ballard Fine Homes, we offer invaluable assistance to new homeowners throughout the process of building their dream homes. With our expertise and commitment to quality craftsmanship, we guide homeowners from the initial stages of design and planning to the final touches of construction. Our team of professionals collaborates closely with clients, taking into account their unique vision, needs, and budgetary considerations to create a truly customized living space.

By providing personalized consultations, Ballard Fine Homes ensures that every aspect of the home aligns with the homeowner’s preferences, from architectural design to interior finishes and fixtures. Additionally, our experienced builders and contractors oversee the construction process, ensuring that the project stays on schedule, meets building codes, and adheres to the highest standards of quality. With our high standards towards unwavering dedication and attention to detail, Ballard Fine Homes empowers new homeowners to bring their dream homes to life.