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Deciding Whether to Buy a House or a Condo

March 7, 2021
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Posted by Andrew St. Hilaire
Deciding Whether to Buy a House or a Condo

Deciding whether to buy a condo or a house may be an easy decision for some, but for others, there may be factors that make this decision more difficult. There are pros and cons to each considering resale value, amenities, convenience, and space.

The best approach for deciding is to identify what's most important for you as far as goals, lifestyle, and budget. An experienced REALTOR® will help you to make an informed decision by helping you focus on the things that matter the most for you and looking at the options available in your desired market which will make deciding between a house or a condo easier. You can start by entering your search criteria here to see all the available listings that match your needs and wants between houses and condos in your preferred neighbourhoods.

Condo Types

There are two main types of condos on the market, freehold and leasehold.

Freehold condos include buildings divided into units, row townhouses, and standalone townhouses or homes. Within these freehold condos, there are standard condominiums where you will buy your unit with an interest in the property's shared common areas and elements, but you won't own the land. Common elements condominiums have no units but you own the property and the land on which it sits. Owners within the common elements condominiums community share the ownership of common elements, and they fund their maintenance and repair jointly.

Leasehold condominium corporations don't own the land in the condominium corporation, but the lease purchasers buy a leasehold in units and common elements.

Price

The difference when buying a standard condominium compared to a house is that you're only buying a unit in a building without any of the land. Other kinds of condominiums may be different though.

Most of the time, a condo is more affordable than a house in the same area, but this gap can be wider in some markets, and may not exist at all if it's a common elements condominium. Sacrificing a convenient location in certain cities like Toronto and Vancouver, for example, will significantly influence your decision for a house or condo. The choice is much easier in Winnipeg.

Expenses

Condos include monthly fess to pay for certain services, maintenance, and amenities. These are usually based on the size of your unit and the number of units in the building. Some condos offer luxurious amenities, like a 24-hour concierge, pool, gym, sauna, theatre, and even a bowling alley. Of course, your condo fees will be higher with the better amenities being offered.

The condo fees generally cover the costs when anything break inside the common areas of the building. Obviously, homeowners bear these costs on their own.

Typically, insurance rates for a condo are much less than for a house and utility bills for heat and gas are also generally less with a condo.

Maintenance

Maintaining the yard, snow shovelling, seasonal repairs are not your problem with a condo so if you hate these chores, a condo might be a good fit. Houses require a lot more work in general.

Location and Lifestyle

Condos usually have central and convenient locations to give owners an easy commute and easy access to public transit, restaurants, and shopping. Professionals may decide these conveniences are a priority over having a back yard of their own or more living space and would prefer to enjoy their free time without performing any maintenance on a house.

If you have children or plan to have any soon, considering living space and yard space, noise, and available privacy in a house compared to a condo may be important.

Freedom

Condo boards have rules that all owners or tenants need to follow. These rules may limit how many pets you're allowed and what kinds, prevent smoking, restrict visitors in certain areas, prohibit renting out the unit, prevent having a BBQ on patios, among other limitations.

Condo Pros

  • Not responsible for repairs or maintenance outside of your unit
  • Possible access to amenities like pool, gym, concierge
  • Better security
  • Usually easier to rent in the short term
  • May be located in a more central or convenient location

Condo Cons

  • Usually less privacy
  • Limited outdoor space
  • Monthly fees
  • Possibly pay for amenities you aren't using
  • Possible restrictions or limitations

House Pros

  • More freedom to renovate or decorate
  • More control of your space
  • Like to have more outdoor space
  • More privacy

House Cons

  • Responsible for repairs and maintenance
  • Utility bills are usually higher

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Andrew St. Hilaire, Winnipeg Real Estate Agent