Mortgage interest rates are at record lows. Housing prices are still far below their 2006 peaks. And sellers are willing to negotiate on everything from repairs and final sales prices to closing dates. This remains a great time to buy a home. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, now the question is: Should you buy a condominium or a single-family home? Not surprisingly, the answer depends on the needs of you and your family. Here are some factors to consider when you’re debating whether a condo or house makes more sense for you.
Find out now: What do I need in a home?
What do you like to do with your weekends?
Do you spend your Saturday afternoons puttering in the garden? Or would you rather stroll to that new Italian restaurant downtown? If you prefer the first option, a single-family home might be best for you. If you like the second, consider a condo that’s in the center of the action.
As LendingTree notes, those who want an urban adventure might do better to choose a condo. After all, you’re more likely to find an apartment in the heart of a big city — close to entertainment, shops and restaurants — than you are a single-family home. But those who like to spend hours in their gardens, relaxing in their backyards or cultivating the perfect lawn may feel more comfortable in a house.
The sounder investment?
Writing on Oprah Winfrey’s website, personal finance expert Suze Orman says that a condo might not be the smartest financial choice these days. During the housing boom, developers filled cities with loads of condominium units. Now owners are struggling to sell many of these units thanks to the oversupply. This may seem like a better deal for buyers, but as a long-term investment, a condo may not necessarily represent a good value.
Both single-family homes and condominiums have fallen in value since the housing boom fizzled. But as Orman writes, from 2007 through 2010, the national median price of condos has dropped 24%. During the same period, the national median price of single-family homes dropped by a lesser 22%. Talk to your realtor about any fluctuations in price your desired unit may have seen, and what the true worth of the unit is relative to other condos (or houses) in the area.
Realtor.com recommends that you consider your need for privacy before deciding upon a condo or single-family home. If you enjoy meeting the neighbors, feeling like part of a busy community or sharing the responsibility for making decisions, consider investing in a condo. If you prefer a quieter environment and more control over such decisions as which perennials to plant in your garden each year, a house may better suit your needs.
If you have a growing family, a single-family home might make sense. As LendingTree writes, such residences come with more square footage and backyard space. Young children might be happier starting each day with a huge yard in which to play.
Both single-family homes and condos come with their own expenses. If you buy a condo, you’ll probably have to pay association fees, which cover minor repairs and such services as mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow. If you live in a single-family home, you’ll face the always unexpected costs of emergency repairs, not to mention the higher heating and cooling bills that come with owning more space.