Condo or House? A Question for the Readers

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Often times, I take a question from a reader and turn it into a post; well, I thought I’d turn it around today. It’s time for you, the reader, to give me your two cents.

My History

A few years ago, I graduated from college and headed from Michigan to Florida to look for work. My friend had already found a job in Palm Beach County, so I figured I’d rent a place with him while I searched.

To fast-forward a bit, I found that job, got married, rented a few other places, and then decided that it was about time to make my way back to Michigan. Currently, my wife and I are residing in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath rental house. It’s great, but you know what? We’re sick of renting. We plan on sticking around here for a long time and we feel that we’re ready to invest our money (rather than throw it away renting) in some property of our own.

We’re Ready to Buy, So What Should We Get?

We have a general idea of the area we’d like to live, but we can’t really decide whether we want to buy a house or a condo (by condo, I mean one large 4 story building with with condos within, kind of like a hotel). So here are the pros and cons of each as I see them, but I’d like to know your opinion.

I like the idea of a house mainly because I got sick of hearing footsteps from the rental unit above us. If you’re in a house, at least your annoying neighbors won’t be heard so easily. With this comes cons as well though. We’d have to be ready for those inevitable large expenses like a new roof, or an updated exterior.

The condo that we’re looking at offers some pros: mainly, it’s a highly-desired space and it would make a great rental property later in life. However, this condo costs about 30% more per square foot than many of the houses in the same area. It has monthly dues of about $75 (which would cover the exterior and common ground fees), and with all of the recent foreclosures, I wonder if there’s enough funds for the property management group to make the necessary repairs in the future (I don’t like the idea of having little control over this).

So What Do You Think?

There are pros and cons to each of these decisions, but we have not yet been homeowners. Since many of you have, I’d like to hear your opinions!

Should we go for the condo or a house? What experiences have you had?

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Money

Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

20 Comments

  1. CONDO. You can’t stand up in most basements.

  2. Neither, why not keep renting! I know I’m a little bias. Putting that aside, I say buy a condo first. maintenance is less and significantly less expensive. I know I’ll be buying a condo for my first purchase. you just have to watch out for the management fees for some properties. And turning it into a rental later down the road is a wonderful idea. I say go for it Derek!

    • I would really like to start owning SOMETHING. I know it might not be a great investment initially, but once it’s fully paid for, that rental income sure would be nice! 🙂

  3. If you plan on having kids, I would go with house. I have never owned a condo, but I think a house is a better long-term solution. Plus, it sounds like the houses where you are living are reasonably priced if they are 30 percent cheaper than the condos.
    Everyday Tips recently posted..Financial Lesson Learned From “Half Broke Horses”

    • I don’t think kids will come very soon. We’re still pretty young and have some exploring to do first. I think if we bought the condo, we’d live there for only as long as it would take to pay off (3-5 years), and then rent it out. I actually just found out that this particular condo has been on the market for 500 days. I think we could offer quite a lot less than asking price.

    • I do agree with you IIW. The condo would be very convenient, plus it would free up quite a lot of time for our business ventures! 🙂

  4. I would go with the house especially if you are looking at living in the property long term. Condo living also comes with the HOA and there can be some pretty crazy stuff that people come up with and how they interpret the CC&R’s.

    Also, not sure why you feel the house would not make a good rental property in the future.

    • I think we might pay it off fairly soon (3-5 years) and use it as a rental property in the future. If we truly believe that we’ll do this, then I might shy away from a house…. I can’t believe I’m talking myself into the condo….

  5. Condo’s make better rental properties as tennants simply don’t look after a yard like you would, and that will stress neighborly relations. If you are planning to pay it off in 3-5 years, go for it, and then take the step into a house. In understand that this reasoning is less about finance, and more about relationships, but I think it’s an important consideration. We all have neighbors.
    Hunter recently posted..Plan To Retire- Not Work Forever

    • The condo would make the easier rental property, but the HOA fees and property management kind of freak me out. Many properties in the area are going into foreclosure, which makes me wonder if the condo management is being handled properly.

  6. I owned several houses, apartment buildings and now a townhouse. Why is there a premium on the condo? In the long run homes are much more likely to increase in value versus a condo. Homes are more desirable. Either one can be a rental. If you are serious about a condo, take a hard look at the HOA statements because you will be obligated to pay deficiencies through special assessments and/or higher dues. Good luck.
    krantcents recently posted..Would 12-000 Convince You to Move Closer to Work

    • The condo is considered, “luxurious and elite” compared with the other property around it. The building used to be a factory and was transformed into condo units.

      Homes are more desirable, bt would they rent as quickly? I will most definitely take a good look at those HOA statements before buying in.

      Thanks krantcents!!!

  7. I’ve done both, and I REALLY enjoy my house with nobody above, below, or side from me. It’s priceless actually.

    However, I enjoy the simple living of a condo. The house maintenance is really a pain though.

    As I get older, I’m leaning towards a condo. Simple living!

    Sam
    Financial Samurai recently posted..How To Pay Off 35-000 In Credit Card Debt In One Month

    • It is a nice benefit and a time saver to have the yard work and exterior work taken care of… plus, then I wouldn’t have to buy a lawn mower. 🙂

  8. I choose a condo over a house because I flat out couldn’t afford a house in the area I wanted to move to… but emotionally I was at the point where I was done renting and living with roommates and constantly worrying if their jobs would hold up to pay the rent. I had enough money saved up for a down payment on a nice place or a down payment and cash to remodel a fixer upper. After almost 9 months of hunting and placing 24 offers, I finally got one.

    I made sure to find a condo that was cheaper to own monthly than a one bedroom apartment would be to rent. This way, each month i’d come out ahead before I even considered the equity my mortgage payments would grant me.

    It took some time, but I found a fixer upper condo out of a bank foreclosure and bought it FHA style with a 30 year fixed rate loan.

    It was a wreak to be honest. I gutted the whole thing down to the floor boards and remodeled it before I even moved in. I paid cash for all the costs & right now i’m only out and in the hole around 8k.

    Monthly including my mortgage, MIP, property taxes, earthquake and homeowners insurance, its cheaper to live in my condo than to rent a one bedroom at my old complex (where I would have stayed if I hadn’t bought this place). Eventually I’ll break even on the condo and then turn a profit. Since i’m young and out and about its good for me to have less property maint issues to deal with… and it forces me to like my belongings because there isn’t a whole lot of storage space.

  9. Derek, I have another suggestion for you, how about purchasing a duplex — rent out one side while you live in the other side. This way the renter would help you pay the mortgage. Once you have the mortgage paid you could purchase another place you yourself and have two renters helping to pay the new mortgage.

    • I have definitely considered this and it is a great option! Unfortunately, we have not come across any townhouses that we like. If we see one though, you know we’ll be taking a look into it! Thanks for the comment!


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