What Is a Condominium?

    CondominiumA condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate (usually of an apartment house) is individually owned, while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece.

    Living in a condominium can be a great way to own property without being responsible for all of the upkeep that comes with it. It can also be great for those who want to live an independent lifestyle but still want to feel like they are part of a community. Let’s take a look at how living in a condo differs from living in a home or an apartment.

    How Are Condos Different Than Homes?

    When you purchase a home, you own both the house and the land that it sits on. However, condominiums are different in that you only own the actual unit that you live in. The land is typically owned or controlled by an association that is run by the residents themselves. However, this can be beneficial because you are only responsible for maintaining your actual unit.

    Those who live in condominiums will have both a mortgage payment and a fee that goes toward paying common expenses. For instance, this fee will pay for roof repairs or new exterior paint. It will also pay for trash pickup and other services that the community may offer.

    In most cases, you are allowed to customize the interior of your unit as you see fit. However, community rules may restrict the types of plants that you can put in your yard or what color your front door can be. In a way, living in a condo is similar to living in a house located in a neighborhood operated by an HOA.

    How Is a Condominium Different Than an Apartment?

    Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you live in one unit within a larger building. However, unlike an apartment, you actually own the space that you live in. Therefore, you generally have the ability to sublet it or occupy it as you see fit. If you decide that you no longer want to live in the unit, you are free to sell it at any time. The amount that a seller pays will be determined by market forces just like any other real estate transaction.

    Since you own the property, it is possible to pass it down to family members upon your death. This means that a minor child, a sibling or another person close to you has a place to live or an asset to liquidate upon your passing. The asset can also be put into a trust, and the trust can exist for as long as you want or need it to.

    A final key difference between living in an apartment and in a condo is that you don’t have to sign a lease. Typically, landlords will require that you sign a lease that lasts for 12 months and is difficult to get out of early. While it is unlikely that you will leave a property that you own within 12 months, it is nice that you have the option to do so if necessary.

    Potential Risks of Living in Condos

    There many potential risks that you should consider when comparing living in condos to living in homes. Perhaps the biggest risk is that the association that runs the community could ask for more money at almost any time. You could also be fined or otherwise punished for breaking even minor community rules.

    You may also find that it is harder to sell condos that it is to sell homes because of the rules that a new buyer would likely need to abide by. This could result in a longer sale process as well as a reduced sale price. A real estate agent may be able to give you more insight into how easy or difficult it could be to resell the property before you buy it.

    It is also important to consider that you may not have as much privacy as you would living in your own home. If you don’t like the thought of hearing your neighbors have arguments or listening to their music late at night, it may be in your best interest to buy a home. You may also be better off renting an apartment in a rural area that is quieter and more secluded.

    The Potential Benefits of Condos Compared to Homes

    The biggest benefit of living in condos instead of living in homes is that you won’t have to worry about doing all the maintenance work yourself. If the roof is leaking, someone will come fix it for you. If there is a pest issue, an exterminator will come to fix the problem for you in a timely manner. This is where condo ownership is different than other home ownership.

    Many condos will come with swimming pools, fitness areas and other amenities that don’t necessarily come standard with a house. This means that you can spend your days in a pool or hot tub without having to worry about skimming it or putting chlorine in it each day. It also means that you can exercise without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a treadmill or other exercise equipment.

    Seniors who aren’t able to walk or drive long distances will likely appreciate how close they are to their neighbors. The community itself may offer rides to the doctor or other care services for those who need it. Individuals who don’t have family members in the immediate area may also enjoy the fact that there are people nearby to have conversations with or have lunch with.

    Are Condos Safe to Live In?

    While some believe that those who living in condominiums are more likely to be crime victims, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many condominiums have dedicated security staff that will patrol the community and make sure that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. Reputable communities will have plenty of lights on at night to keep you safe while you walk your pet or travel from your car to your unit.

    Although this is not a given, you may have a dedicated parking space that is close to your home. It may also be possible to purchase a parking spot or otherwise come to an agreement that allows you to park close to your home. This may reduce the amount of time that you have to spend walking in the dark, which can further reduce the odds of putting yourself in a vulnerable position.

    A condominium can be great for those who are ready to purchase a property but don’t want all the responsibility that comes with it. While it may not come with all the freedom associated with being a homeowner, it is still an asset that can appreciate in value and be liquidated at any time.

    See the latest Condo Market Update in Winnipeg.

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