Can't Decide Between a House or a Condo? Here's What You Need to Know!

If you’re looking to enter the property market, you may be torn between a house and a condo. Let’s break down the main differences between the two, so you can make the best possible choice for your situation.

House: the basics

Let’s start right off with a house. In this case, you’re going to be buying the lot where the property is located, and you’re going to be buying the immovable property – AKA the house itself. You’re only going to have to deal with your neighbours if you have a common fence or anything that is shared of that nature. Overall, you’re going to have the freedom to do what you want with the property, so long as you respect the municipal bylaws.

Condo: the basics

Now, if we dive into a condo, you’re going to have a percentage ownership of the building. It’s important to note that all major decisions are going to be put to a vote by the entire condo board, but some smaller decisions might be brought forth only by the directors or the actual board members themselves. So in a condominium, you’re not just buying the unit: you’re also buying the relationship with everybody else that’s in the building.

Condo: the pros

Typically, you’ll be focused on the lifestyle that a condo provides: the fact that you don’t have to worry about maintenance, and the fact that there are generally fewer expenses that come along with ownership

Condos are typically cheaper on a price-per-square-foot basis compared to a home in the same neighbourhood, because you’re only paying for the actual living area. You don’t have to pay for the land or the lot that’s coming along with it.

They’re also typically closer to the center of town and to a transit hub, whether that’s buses, metro stations, or train stations.

House: the pros

In a house, you have a lot more privacy. You have your land, you don’t have to worry about asking anybody for permission for most things. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

It’s also going to be a little bit more quiet. You’re going to have more insulation and more separation from your neighbours. Because of that, you’ll have a little bit more peace and tranquility around you.

Overall, there’s going to be more housing supply in the suburbs, which typically comes with fewer transit options.

Condo: the cons

A lot of the time, people believe there’s no maintenance or major repairs associated with condos. However, if the building hasn’t been properly managed, it’s very likely you’re going to be hit with a special assessment. You’re going to get one very large unexpected bill, which is a lot more difficult to plan for when you think somebody else is taking care of these things.

If you’re looking at a condo and have pets, you may run into some restrictions. How many pets do you have? What type of pet is it? Whatever you want has to be approved by the board.

Whenever you want to do renovations inside of a condo, you’re going to need the approval of the board, and you will need to provide the contractor’s insurance and registration documents. So, you have less flexibility in terms of who can do what in order to make sure that you don’t

cause any damage to the building.

House: the cons

Let’s say the roof needs to be replaced. Well, you’re responsible for 100% of the roof, whereas in a condo, you’re only responsible for a couple of percentage points of that roof. So homeowners are shouldered with the entire cost.

Homes allow for a lot more variety in terms of pets, and you don’t need anybody else’s approval as long as you respect the municipal bylaws.

On the house side of things, it’s a lot easier to hire a friend, family member, or even yourself to take on a few more DIY projects, because nobody else is invested in the integrity of your building. There’s no one you need to answer to but yourself.

What are condo fees?

Condo fees are something that most people think about, but often push off to the side. Condo fees are a monthly amount that each co-owner pays towards the insurance, the maintenance, and the overall upkeep of the building.

The amount can sometimes be very reasonable, but over the course of the years, it usually tends to creep upwards. It’s very rare that condo fees come back down. So it’s important to note that what you’re seeing today is just a starting point.

It’s also important to understand that a condo fee is something that’s going to be taken into

account by the bank. So let’s say that you qualify for a home of $500,000 – you’re probably only going to qualify for a condo of maybe $480,000 or $475,000 because the bank is going to consider the monthly fee in their calculations.

What does it cost to maintain a home?

Even though maintenance is something we know we’re going to have to do – snow removal, cutting the grass, general landscaping, resealing around the windows, etc. – most people don’t budget for it properly.

While condo fees are a predetermined amount that you’re going to have to pay every single month, home maintenance expenses may surprise you if you have not budgeted properly.

Which one is better: house or condo?

In reality, the answer really depends on your personal situation. Are you looking for a certain lifestyle? Do you want to have that urban feel, not really have to worry about too much? Or do you want more privacy, more space, a little bit more freedom?

If you’d prefer a little personalized guidance, schedule a call with our team. We’ll go through your unique situation and start exploring your options!

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