Aug 29, 2015
Consider these options:
Location: This may determine your type of home. If you want to be in Uptown or Downtown, the options are pretty much condos. Condos and townhouse are often located convenient to businesses, shopping, restaurants, and major transportation routes (allowing you to reduce your commute time and cost).
Privacy: If you want space from your neighbors a home is almost always a better option. Shared walls can mean shared noise. Condominium living means you may or may not have a little private outdoor space. As a member of a condo “community”, shared common areas can lead to more interaction with neighbors than you wish.
Amenities: A condo or townhouse may offer amenities like a pool, gym, tennis courts, clubhouse that you don't have to worry about maintaining yourself. It can give you access to luxuries you may not otherwise be able to afford.
Budget: How much do you want to spend on the property upfront and monthly? Condos are usually more affordable than a houses. However they can carry substantial monthly HOA dues and those fees never go away. Try the realtor.com Home Affordability Calculator to help pinpoint a budget.
Space/size: A condo is usually smaller than a house - but not always. That can be a good thing with less area to clean and less space to accumulate clutter. Depending on your needs a smaller space may be ideal.
Security and safety: Nearby neighbors can make a condo feel more secure and easier to leave for vacations or work. Some condos have security features like guard service or gated entries.
Maintenance: In a free standing home, you are responsible for all maintenance. Most condos include dues that cover exterior maintenance, landscaping, etc. And you pay for that convenience. However big ticket items like a new roof are a shared expense. Some older owners prefer the freedom from mowing, watering, raking, .. It is crucial to find out prior to making an offer is exactly what a property's HOA fees cover and what you are responsible for as a homeowner.
Freedom & Responsibility: Do you want sole responsibility and accountability for your home or do you want to share it with neighbors? Condos (some townhouse and single home communities) have strict rules about what happens outside your four walls but the responsibility for those areas are not all yours. The HOA for a complex or neighborhood sets rules and regulations that all home owners must follow or risk being fined. These rules may determine renovations, pet ownership, parking, mailboxes, rental options, what you can put in your windows or on your door, and more. Associations can be good or bad depending on the rules and leadership. If you want the most control (and responsibility), a single-family home that is not part of an HOA is the best bet.
Understand the pros and cons of various kinds of home ownership will reduce disappointments and help you make a decision that is right for you.