While many people think only about a single-family home for their first major property purchase, this is not the only option available to you. Many will also consider alternative options, and one of the most common here for many people is the purchase of a condominium, or condo.
At Altius Mortgage and our partners with Mortgage Ogden, we’re here to help with mortgage loans for numerous needs, including many first-time buyers — and not just those looking for traditional homes. We’ve helped many clients throughout Utah find condos, townhomes and other forms of property for ownership, and we’re here to assist you with any such needs you may have. If you’re unsure whether a home or a condo might be best for your needs and budget, what are some of the things to consider between them? Here’s a basic primer.
Cost is naturally a major factor for most buyers, and at least from an up-front standpoint, single-family homes typically cost significantly more than condos. In some cases, this difference can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. If you’re trying to purchase within a given budget, this may help guide your decision.
Now, as you’ve likely already assumed, this can’t be the end of your research. Naturally, you have to consider what you’re getting for the money you’re spending, and this is where the decision might become a bit more complex. Our next several sections will go into the various perks and drawbacks of each approach depending on your needs.
Maintenance and Costs
If you purchase a home, maintenance is pretty simple and straightforward: You’re responsible for everything, from the roof over your head all the way down to the last shingle. If anything needs fixing, you need to take care of it and pay for repairs out of pocket.
Condos, on the other hand, often come with homeowner’s associations (HOAs). The fees associated with these HOAs can vary greatly depending on the building and community, but they typically cover a wide range of needs, from outdoor maintenance to basic repairs and sometimes even some utilities. In other words, with a condo, you’re not necessarily responsible for everything — but the fees can add up, so it’s important to be aware of these costs before making a purchase.
Yard and Amenities
When it comes to single-family homes, yard and property size can vary significantly. Some homes might come with a tiny plot of land surrounding them, while others could have several acres. This gives you a lot of control over what you can do with the property, whether that means planting a garden, putting in a pool or just having some extra space to move around.
If you’re looking at condos, on the other hand, your yard space is going to be limited, if not nonexistent. Instead, many condo buildings come with a variety of shared amenities that all residents have access to. This might include anything from a gym and swimming pool to a dog park or playground. It really just depends on the building and HOA.
Parking and Car Space
Again, not every home is built in the same way — but from a broad standpoint, you’re significantly more likely to have dedicated parking and even garage space in a home than in a condo. If you live in a condo in the city, for instance, you might have to park on the street or pay for a spot in a shared garage. If you own multiple vehicles, this can be even more of an issue.
If you purchase a home with a driveway and garage, on the other hand, you’ll have plenty of space for all your vehicles, and you won’t have to worry about finding a spot on the street.
This one is pretty simple: In general, homes offer significantly more privacy than condos. If you’re looking for a property where you can really spread out and not worry about neighbors being too close for comfort, a home is probably the way to go. If you’re okay with being a bit closer to your neighbors, though, a condo can still offer plenty of privacy.
We already talked about costs above, but one particular area here is so important that it deserves its own section: Taxes. With a single-family home, you’ll be responsible for paying property taxes to your municipality. These can vary depending on where you live, but they’re typically a few thousand dollars per year or more.
If you buy a condo, on the other hand, you might not have to pay any property taxes at all. In many cases, the HOA fees cover these taxes, which means you don’t have to worry about them. Of course, this can vary depending on the building and HOA, so be sure to ask about it before making a purchase.
On the flip side of the above, many of the perks that typically come with HOAs or other condo associations come at a cost. In addition to monthly or yearly HOA fees, you might also have to pay for things like parking, trash pickup, utilities and more. These costs can add up, so be sure to ask about them before making a purchase.
This one is pretty simple: Homes are typically much larger than condos. If you’re looking for a property with plenty of space to spread out, a home is probably the way to go. If you’re okay with a smaller space, though, a condo can still offer plenty of room.
As you can see, there are a few key differences between homes and condos that you’ll need to take into account before choosing one or the other. For more on this, or to learn about any of our mortgage rates or quality home loan services for Utah buyers, speak to the team at Altius Mortgage today.