Condo vs. House: 7 Factors You Need To Consider

If you’re a first-time homebuyer deciding between a condo vs. house, then first of all, congratulations! This is an exciting step and a big decision, and there are many factors to consider. And if you are struggling to decide between these two types of homeownership, you are not alone. Many first time homebuyers find themselves conflicted when it comes to choosing to purchase a condo vs. house. 


However, one very important point to consider is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Each type of living situation can suit you depending on the time of life you are in and what’s important to you. For example, what might be necessary for you when buying a home with a growing family in mind might not be as important if you’re retired and looking to downsize. So it’s important to keep in mind that the same features a specific arrangement provides could be pros to one buyer and cons to another, depending on the kind of lifestyle each is looking for. 


With that in mind, here are 7 factors you need to consider to help you decide between buying a condo vs. house. 


  1. Costs
  2. Privacy
  3. Location
  4. Maintenance
  5. Autonomy, Expression, Expansion
  6. Amenities
  7. Reselling


1. Costs


When deciding between a condo vs. house, one of the most important factors to any potential homeowner is cost.


On average, condos are less expensive than houses. In 2019, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported the overall U.S. average sales price of existing single-family homes to be $310,200, and that of condo homes to be $295, 500. A gap of $14,700 might not seem like much, but it is significant, especially since that gap is much wider in many markets. And a lower sales price also means a lower down payment and lower monthly payments.


However, there are other factors involved in the overall cost of owning a condo or a house besides just the sales price that need to be considered. Just a few of those factors are:


  • Monthly condo HOA fees ranging from $100-$700 on average, but oftentimes much more depending on location
  • Possible occasional ‘special assessment’ fees for a condo building
  • Extra maintenance costs of a single-family home
  • Higher insurance costs of a single-family home
  • Commuting costs to/from a single-family home in the suburbs


2. Privacy


One of the biggest lifestyle factors to consider between a condo vs. house is privacy.


Living in a condo means you are also living in a community. Similar to apartment living, you are sharing your four walls with other owners and are, by circumstance, closer to your neighbors and going to run into them more often. There are also usually common areas such as mailrooms, swimming pools, gyms, etc. that will have you crossing paths with other residents more often. This can be a plus for security reasons if you leave on trips regularly, giving you the peace of mind that you have neighbors around to keep an eye on your things. 


Though you can’t choose your neighbors, condos in certain neighborhoods can sometimes draw similar types of people. So if you move into a well-managed community with neighbors you enjoy, you could end up making some friends. 


Depending on the way you want to live, being a part of a community like this could be either a pro or a con. 


Living in a separate, single-family home, however, comes with way more privacy. You will still have neighbors. But not sharing your four walls with anyone else and having a yard between keeps family units much more separate. So if you value privacy and maintaining certain boundaries in your living space between you and others, you will have more control over that with a house.


3. Location


Another factor involved in buying a condo vs. house is location. 


If you enjoy a specific area in a city and urban living, a condo might be the way to go. Condos are generally way easier to afford than a single-family home around downtown areas and urban centers.


However, if you are seeking more space, both within living quarters and with a yard and land to yourself, then you will find more affordable options with a single-family home in suburban areas.


4. Maintenance


Another major factor to consider in getting a condo vs. house is maintenance. 


Part of the monthly HOA fees for a condo go toward maintenance. As an owner of a condo, your only responsibility is the inside of your living space. Your four walls, roof, yard and everything else is maintained by the HOA. That means no yard work, no roof repairs, no HVAC maintenance, etc. This can be an asset if you have a busy schedule, travel a lot, are less mobile, or just don’t enjoy outdoor home maintenance.


But if you enjoy having a yard and more space to yourself and don’t mind some yard work and home repairs/maintenance or hiring all of that out, a house might be for you. You would also have control over the landscaping and aesthetics of your home, which you would have little to no control over with a condo. 


5. Autonomy, Expression, Expansion


If you’re deciding between buying a condo vs. house, a critical factor to consider is how important autonomy is to you.


If you own a condo, the rules and regulations of the HOA is king. You will have no control over the aesthetics of the outside of your home, including paint color, yard appearance, and sometimes even your curtains are regulated. 


Some condo communities even have regulations about how many units can be rented at a time, and even how many residents can live in one unit. So if a family member and their kids fall on hard times and need a place to crash for a while, this might not be possible in a condo community. Or if you were planning on renting out a room to help pay the bills, that might not be allowed either. 


Some condo establishments also regulate how many and the types of pets that are allowed.


So just make sure you look into all the rules and regulations of a particular community to make sure it fits your lifestyle. 


In a separate, single-family home, however, you have full autonomy for how you live, who lives with you, and what your home looks like. You can express yourself more freely in the aesthetics of your home’s outdoor appearance and flex your individuality. And you can have a yard and space for pets at your own discretion. You also have more room as your family grows, with the ability to make additions to your home if needed. 


6. Amenities


Another significant thing to think about when it comes to a condo vs. house is whether or not access to certain amenities is important to you.


To be sure, you can purchase and maintain all the amenities you want with a house. However, sometimes it can end up being cheaper and more convenient to have the same amenities immediately available to you in a condo community. 


Many condo communities come complete with swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts, concierge services, etc. This can be a huge asset in a city environment to have all of these services easily accessible, and not to have the worry or expense of maintaining them yourself.  


7. Reselling


Another major factor to consider when deciding between the purchase of a condo vs. house is the ease of reselling in the future. 


Condos are generally more difficult to sell. Selling a condo in a bad housing market can be tough. They are the kind of property that people usually only buy in more robust markets, whereas detached houses complete with lots tend to be more liquid in all kinds of markets. 


Another factor that makes condos difficult to sell is lack of individuality. For the most part, condo units in a community are all uniform, so nothing makes yours stand out to sell from any others. A detached home has much more to make it unique and appeal to specific potential buyers.


We hope this list of factors to consider helped you to come closer to a decision if you are choosing between purchasing a condo vs. house. There’s no one right answer to this question that works for everyone. So just choose whatever option works best for you in your life right now. 

Like this content and want more? Read more about homeownership on our blog! Need help finding a house or a condo? Give us a call today to see how we can help you find a new house or condo that will be the perfect home for you.

Ruth Stultz
Ruth Stultz
Ruth has been helping clients buy and sell homes in Montgomery County for over 30 years. She's seen and handled everything you can think of in the real estate world.

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