Condo vs house

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There are lots of things to consider when buying a home—neighbourhood, proximity, features, etc.—but one of the first questions you should be asking yourself is whether a house or a condo is right for you.

There’s pros and cons to each, to ultimately it comes down to what makes the most sense for you. Here are a few things to consider!

Similarities

Both traditional houses (we’ll consider these to be “free-standing”, which is just a jargon-y term for what you think of when you think of a “traditional” home) and condos are properties that you can own. And what also makes each type of housing similar is actually how different they can be—there are different styles and amenities for both houses and condos. For instance, not all condos are apartments—they can be townhouse style, or even free-standing (these are called ‘bare-land condos’). And some houses can be semi-detached or duplexes in addition to the wide range of shapes and sizes that they can come in.

Differences

An easier way to help narrow down your decision might be to focus on what makes houses and condos different.

Condos tend to be more like self-contained “little cities” and come with amenities built in like underground parking, shared spaces like a common room or gym, storage units, etc. Condos are also run by a corporation with a Board of Governors (not unlike city council to continue the metaphor). Condo fees are like the ‘tax’ you would pay (just keeping that metaphor alive a little longer)—every month you pay a set fee that is put aside and the Board of Governors is responsible for spending it on things like snow-removal, landscaping, general maintenance, and major repairs. But buyer beware—depending on the scale of repairs, not all of them are always covered by your condo fees.

Another difference is—depending on the condo—you may be limited by the scale of the renovations you can make. A lot of buildings only allow for cosmetic renos like painting, or adding new flooring. Larger renos like changing the floor plan, adding a new bathroom, or knocking down a wall aren’t always allowed.

With a house, by comparison, you and only you are responsible for upkeep and chances are you don’t share your space with anybody aside from your family. That also means you have complete control over what you can and can’t do in terms of renovations. Want to knock down that wall? Get the sledgehammer…provided you know what you’re doing. Want a master bath? Call the plumber! Just keep in mind: Often major upgrades can significantly change the value of your home so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Of course, that freedom to do what you want also means you’re also in charge of paying for snow removal, or mowing the lawn, fixing the roof, making minor repairs, etc., too.

We broke down some of the more common pros and cons to help you make your decision:

*These are meant to be generalized—every condo and house is different. Make sure you work with a qualified REALTOR® who can make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for!
*These are meant to be generalized—every condo and house is different. Make sure you work with a qualified REALTOR® who can make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for!

Whether you’re buying your first home, or your fifth, there’s lots to think about. In additional to a financial expert, it’s important to have a trusted REALTOR® on your side.