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Condominium Pros and Cons.

moving into a condoIf you're in the market for a new home, a condominium (condo for short) could be your best option. They are often less costly to purchase than houses or townhouses, and they can offer more amenities you might not otherwise be able to afford. Benefits like off-street parking, a pool or a garden are often included in condo purchase deals. However, the advantages of buying a condo can be offset by the drawbacks associated with condo living. If you are considering investing in the condominium lifestyle, we encourage you to become acquainted with these important factors:

What is a condo?

A condo is a building consisting of multiple apartments which are all individually owned. Each owner contributes to the cost and upkeep of the exterior structure and any common areas and amenities. Condos differ from townhouses, which are usually single- or multi-story units linked to each other by common walls. Unlike townhouse owners, condo owners do not hold title to the land the building sits on. They share the land ownership with the other condo owners.

Advantages of condos

For the home buyer, the advantages of condo living are many. Condos are often cheaper than townhouses or stand-alone houses. This is because the utilization of the available space has been maximized with many living spaces built onto a single piece of land. In some built-up neighborhoods, condos may be the only available option for home buyers, or the most practical given their proximity to shopping centers and work. Condo communities may also offer amenities you may not otherwise be able to afford if purchasing a townhouse or stand-alone house. These include pools, play areas and tennis courts. Condos can relieve you of the need to maintain the building and any amenities on your own. Also, some interior facilities such as plumbing and electricity, may be managed by the complex's community association. Socially, condos can be great for you and your family. Your proximity to your neighbors and shared access areas means greater opportunities to meet new people.

Disadvantages of condos

There are a number of disadvantages to condo ownership. You give up some privacy in a condo community, as you are living in close proximity to your neighbors. The shared walls and building access mean your neighbors might hear orsee what is going on in your home. They may be able to hear your conversations or the music that you play, and if they don't like what they hearor see, they could complain to the building's association or the police. On the other hand, you may find yourself with neighbors who are noisy, unfriendly or worse.

Another disadvantage may be the condominium community association. It can be politicized and hold you accountable for any perceived infringement of its rules. It can also impose fees for building maintenance, whereas in another type of home you might be able to put off any expensive renovations or maintenance to a time when you can afford them.

Something else to consider is condominium values in a declining market can make a condo very hard to sell.

What to look for when buying a condo

When buying a condo, make sure you don't rush into a decision. Take your time to look at the condo and the building. Do you like its size? Do the plumbing, electricity and gas work? Is the building properly maintained and are the amenities to your liking? Is it situated in the right neighborhood for you?

Also, take your time to peruse the contract, look at the condo community association fees, and the cost of other condos in the neighborhood. Look at the minutes of the community association to see if there are any outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive. Obtain a copy of the building's certificate of insurance and see if building development costs will be covered. Check whether other condo owners seem friendly and are likely to be people you will get along with. You will also want to be wary if there are a large number of condos for sale in the building. This could mean there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the building and the living conditions.

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