How To Decide Between Buying A Home And A Condo
Some buyers know for certain that they want to buy a home or that they want to buy a condo. There is no question at all for these buyers which is the better fit.
There are also many buyers that grapple with whether they should buy a home or a condo. A pretty common frequently asked question from buyers who grapple with this is, “what’s the difference between buying a home and a condo?”
Having helped hundreds of buyers over the past 5 years as a top Webster NY real estate agent, I’ve had dozens of buyers ask me to explain the difference between buying a home and a condo. The truth is that the two options are considerably different.
If you’re trying to figure out what’s the difference between buying a home and a condo, read on to find out what the major differences are. By understanding what the major differences are between the two, you will be able to make an educated decision on which is the best for your situation.
What Should You Know About Buying A Home
Buying a home is much different than buying a condo. There are PROs and CONs to buying a home when comparing to the purchase of a condo. Below you will find out some of the considerations to make when trying to figure out what is the difference between buying a home and a condo.
In most cases, buying a home provides a homeowner extra privacy when comparing to a condo purchase. When buying a home, typically you will have your own yard which is not the case when buying a condo. This makes buying a home a popular choice for those with children or families.
Larger Living Spaces
Generally speaking, buying a home will provide you with larger living spaces than buying a condo will. Buying a home is normally the better option for those with large families who require larger living areas. This is especially the case if you have particular hobbies or activities that you like to do that require large spaces.
One of the considerations to make when trying to figure out the difference between buying a home and a condo is the additional responsibility that comes with owning a home. When you own a home you are responsible for taking care of the maintenance of the property. This includes tasks such as snow removal, landscaping, and general maintenance of the homes HVAC systems, just to name a few.
Recently while working with a first time home buyer in Rochester NY who was deciding between buying a condo or a home, I explained in detail how to winterize a home properly to the buyer. After realizing the amount of maintenance and responsibility that comes with owning a home, the buyer decided to purchase a condo instead of a home.
It’s extremely important to remember when looking at the difference between buying a home and a condo you understand the additional responsibility that comes with owning a home.
More Control Over Your Property
One of the greatest things about owning a home is the ability to make it yours. This includes completing home improvement projects, painting the home, or building additions to the home. When you own a home you have the total control of your home, of course while abiding the law.
When you own a home if you’d like to complete a home improvement project to increase the value of the home, such as adding additional living space, you have the capability of doing so. When you own a condo, you don’t have the ability to complete projects without the approval of the condo association or management.
What Should You Know About Buying A Condo
By this point you should be catching on that there is a difference between buying a home and a condo. If you’re on the fence about buying a condo instead of a home it’s important you know what considerations you need to make. Below are some of the most important things to know about buying a condo.
One of the perks of buying a condo are the additional amenities that come with owning a condo. Most condo communities have additional amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pools, tennis courts, and other amenities.
It’s important when deciding between a condo and a home, you decide whether the additional amenities are something you will take advantage of or not.
Homeowners Association Fees
Arguably the biggest difference between buying a home and a condo are the homeowners association fees that are associated with buying a condo. A homeowners association fee, also known as a HOA fee, is a cost that is paid by the condo owner that covers the upkeep of common areas, the building, and in some cases the utility costs.
Just like there are PROs and CONs to buying a home versus a condo, there are PROs and CONs to homeowners associations. It’s important to determine when reviewing the difference between buying a home and a condo whether or not you want the additional expense of an HOA fee.
Homeowners Association Rules and Regulations
Another consideration to make when looking at the difference between buying a home and a condo are the rules and regulations that come with owning a condo. Condo rules and regulations are often referred to as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).
CC&Rs are enforced to set the ground rules within a condominium community. The CC&Rs typically will regulate many different items within the condo complex. Some of the most common regulations that are a part of CC&Rs include;
- The color a door can be painted
- The number and weight of pets in each unit
- The type of landscaping (if applicable) the owner can use
- Whether you can dry laundry outside or not
- Whether or not satellite dishes are allowed or not
Before deciding whether to buy a condo, make sure you understand what exactly the CC&Rs are and whether or not you will be able to live with them or not. Not doing so is one of the biggest mistakes made by condo buyers.
Financing Options Are Limited
Another significant difference between buying a home and a condo are the amount of financing options that are available. When deciding whether you should buy a condo or not, realize that certain types of financing are not allowed for condo purchases.
For example, FHA financing is not allowed to be used in many condominium complexes. If you’re thinking of buying a condo and are planning on getting an FHA loan, make sure you know exactly what the FHA condo approval requirements are!
Three Killer Tips For Buying A Home Or A Condo
Now that you have a better understand about the difference between buying a home and a condo, it’s important you follow the three tips for buying a home or a condo below. These three killer tips for buying a home or a condo will make the process enjoyable and most importantly, a successful one.
Hire An Experienced Realtor®
One of the first steps whether you plan on buying a condo or a home is to make sure you hire an experienced Realtor®. Having a top Realtor® working as your agent can make the process seem relatively easy.
Many buyers don’t know how to hire an experienced Realtor® or what to look for while determining whether a Realtor® is a top agent or not. The first step in successfully hiring an experienced Realtor® is to know how to interview real estate agents when buying. There are certain questions that you should ask prospective Realtors®. Some of the top questions to ask prospective agents include;
- Are you a full time or part time Realtor®?
- How many homes on average, per year, do you represent buyers?
- What methods of communication do you utilize to help your buyers?
- How do you help your buyers with determining potential property matches?
- What technologies do you use that save your buyers time and money?
The above 5 questions are just a few of the top interview questions to ask prospective Realtors®. If your plan is to buy a condo, it’s also important when hiring an experienced Realtor® that they actually have experience in selling condominiums. Since there is a difference between buying a home and a condo, it’s important your agent knows the various contract contingencies and the differences between a condo purchase contract and a single family purchase contract.
Figure Out Financing Before Shopping
One of the most common mistakes made by home buyers and condo buyers is not figuring out financing before beginning to look at homes or condos. It’s important whether you decide to buy a condo or a home that you get pre-approved before looking at homes.
There are many reasons why you should get pre-approved before looking at homes or condos. One of the most important reason to get pre-approved before shopping is to make sure you’re looking at homes or condos in the correct price range. It makes absolutely no sense to look at a condo that is listed for $50,000 more than what you can afford or want to pay for a condo.
It’s also important to figure out your home or condo financing before shopping if you’re buying in a competitive sellers market. If you’re planning on buying a home or a condo in a sellers market, you will likely be facing competition and not having your financing in order is a surefire way to lose out on a property you love.
Understand The Home Buying Or Condo Buying Process
Whether you’ve decided to buy a home or a condo, it’s vital that you understand the process and the time frame of the process. It’s disappointing for a buyer to find out that to buy a home it will likely take roughly 60 days from the contract date to close on their new home or condo if they thought it would only take a couple weeks.
The time frame is only one important thing to understand about the buying process for real estate. Other important things that you should understand about the process include;
- What real estate contingencies should you consider?
- Is having a real estate attorney important?
- What are certificates of compliance and are they important?
- What is a bank appraisal?
- How do inspections work?
- What is title insurance?
- What is homeowners insurance?
Whether buying a home or a condo, the questions above relate to important topics that you should have an understanding of. A buyer who is educated on these topics exponentially increases the chance that they their real estate transaction is smooth and relatively stress-free!
As you can see there is a difference between buying a home and a condo. It’s critical that before you decide which is the better fit for your scenario, you understand what these differences are. Buyers who decide to purchase one or the other without thinking about these differences potentially may regret their decision.
Once you’ve decided which is the better fit, following the three killer tips for buying a condo or a home will make your real estate experience a pleasurable one!
Other Top Resources For Buying A Home Or Condo
- Condo Vs Home: PROs and CONs of Both via Maximum Real Estate Exposure
- What To Know Before You Buy A Condo via Bankrate
- Top Articles For Buying A Condo via Bundlr
If you’re not sure whether to buy a home or buy a condo in Rochester, NY, the above information relating to the difference between buying a home and a condo should help with your decision. Whether you decide to buy a home or a condo, if you don’t have a top Realtor® in Rochester to assist you with your purchase, contact me, and I’d love the opportunity to interview for the job! Over the past 5 years, I’ve helped hundreds of buyers and sellers with their Rochester real estate needs!
About the authors: The above article “What’s The Difference Between Buying A Home And A Condo?” was provided by the Keith Hiscock Sold Team (Keith & Kyle Hiscock). With over 30 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.
We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.
© 2016, Kyle Hiscock. All rights reserved.