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Difference between a house and a condo

Difference between a house and a condo

When discussing real estate, there are several types of properties that one may consider when purchasing a home; two common terms used are a house and a condominium, or condo. While houses are commonly considered the traditional choice for a single family dwelling, condos are becoming increasingly popular. Some may wonder what the difference is between each. This is especially true when the condo is detached. For this reason, it is a good idea to cover the differences between both.

  1. Association membership

When purchasing a traditional house, it is generally thought to be a stand-alone structure that is all-inclusive and in which everything from the beginning of the property line until the end of the property line would be considered the responsibility of the owner. There is no overlap and all expenses for any work or maintenance on the property is to be paid fully by the owner. The mortgage payment is simply the cost of the loan as well as any payments into escrow that may be used for annual property taxes or insurance payments.

With a condo, the actual property that may be owned is much like an apartment. It is typically a unit that is a part of a bigger building. The property line would begin and end with the walls of the individual unit and all other common areas, such as walkways, utility infrastructure, hallways, laundry rooms, exercise facilities, pools, elevators and general buildings would be managed by a homeowner’s association. These associations are comprised of the unit owners and are managed by a board of directors selected by the owners. They decide the amount that each owner should pay monthly and are responsible for the maintenance of the common areas.[i] Condo owners will pay their association membership fee in addition to their mortgage and escrow payment.

  1. Bylaws and restrictions

The ownership and responsibility of all aspects pertaining to a house are fairly clear-cut. The owner is responsible for everything within the boundaries defined by the property line. Aside from that, all decisions about the use of the house are made by the owner and are only called into questions when there is a legal violation.

Unlike a house, a condominium requires quite a few legal documents to be established to minimize the likelihood of a lawsuit. This typically includes a document called a Master Deed, Enabling Declaration, Declaration of Conditions, or Condominium Document. Within this document, there are provisions for the creation of the homeowners’ association. And in addition to this, the HOA typically develops another set of bylaws to govern over affairs of the entire condo property. Examples of topics that may be included in the bylaws would be the responsibilities of the owners’ association, voting procedures, the details regarding the board of directors, the powers and duties of the officers and the obligations of the owners regarding assessments, maintenance and use of common areas. Additional topics such as maintenance fees, pet restrictions, leasing restrictions and exterior design parameters are also included in the bylaws.[ii] Since these bylaws cover a wide variety of topics, it is common that condo owners face much more restrictions on what they may do with the property than house owners.

  1. Presence of a yard

A traditional house will typically feature a yard, that contains all of the property on the parcel in which the house is located. This means that within the boundaries of the property lines, the owner is entitled to everything including the land itself. For this reason, the lawn, trees, garden or other features would also be considered to be a part of the house.

Condos generally do not have yards. For this reason, they are extremely popular with those individuals who do not want the responsibility of maintaining a yard as all of this work is completed through a process determined by the homeowners’ association. However, the drawback here is that one may never change their mind. For instance, if the owner was initially ok with not having a yard, but then at some point in the future decided that they would like to have a garden there is no recourse other than likely selling the condo and purchasing a home with a yard.

  1. Price

When discussing the price of a house or condo, there are many variables to take into consideration, such as size, location, and property values of the neighborhood. However, generally speaking a comparable sized condo will be cheaper than the similar singly family home alternative. This is particularly true in higher-priced markets. However, the purchase price is not the only variable to consider as the condo comes with an additional fee. Condo owners will have to pay their monthly homeowners’ association dues which will increase the overall cost during the lifetime of tenancy.[iii]

  1. Relationship with neighbors

One thing that may be considered an asset or a drawback with a condo is going to be the proximity with neighbors. Since neighbors commonly share walls and common areas, they typically become closer than neighbors that may simply share a fence. This frequently leads to a sense of community that many people may desire. This makes for a much more social living experience than would be encountered in a house. However, this may also be considered to be a drawback for individuals who value their privacy. Common complaints include noisy or nosy neighbors. Likewise, it may be difficult to work from home if there is much hustle and bustle in the common areas. Condos can also be especially difficult to sell if there are loud noises and unpleasant neighbors.[iv]

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1 Comment

  1. I think many are still ignorant with the facts you’ve mentioned above. I think it’s important for everyone who is planning to have a their own unit soon to be aware of those things.

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References :

[0][i] Condominium. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condominium

[1][ii] Condominuim. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condominium

[2][iii] Williams, G. (2014, September 11). 3 Reasons to buy a condo-and 3 reasons to beware. On US News. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/09/11/3-reasons-to-buy-a-condo-and-3-reasons-to-beware

[3][iv] Williams, G. (2014, September 11). 3 Reasons to buy a condo-and 3 reasons to beware. On US News. Retrieved January 17, 2017 from http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/09/11/3-reasons-to-buy-a-condo-and-3-reasons-to-beware


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