Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

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countofmc
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Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by countofmc »

We are considering buying a condo in another city (where my parents currently live). The idea is that my parents are probably going to sell their house in the next 1-2 years as they transition into retirement and want to downsize. The key is they want to sell their home while the market is doing well, and then reassess their long-term retirement plans (as to where to live). I was thinking we could buy a condo there, rent it out to my parents for a couple of years while they sort out their plans, and then hopefully we can find jobs there and move in once my parents have figured things out. This kind of jives with our own long-term plans of moving to a lower COL area.

I was hoping to get some opinions from past/present condo/townhouse owners on your experiences. My wife and I are still undecided on children, but probably will not have any, or 1 at the most. So having a lot of space is not a big priority, and we like just having less rooms to clean, no yardwork, etc. So we think condo life might be good for us. Conversely, some of the things we are concerned about are potential neighbor noise issues, HOA issues, etc. Also, maybe this is an unwarranted concern, but one of the "values" of owning a home seems to be owning the land beneath you. Condo ownership doesn't seem to really have that "land ownership".

I was thinking a townhouse might meet a happy compromise, but not sure about that.
MrNewEngland
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by MrNewEngland »

As a single guy I lived in a condo in the downtown area of my town for 12 years. A couple years ago a bought a house and rented the condo out... and I kick myself almost every day for doing it. Condos are the best.
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Steelersfan
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Steelersfan »

I live in and am a board member in our 44 unit condo. It's been a very positive experience and I really enjoy not doing yard work and exterior maintenance.

The first thing to do is check for any rental restrictions. Many condos have none, many do, and they can be more or less restrictive. Ours has them but we allow rental to family members, and children or parents would qualify.

The next thing to do is check on the financial health of the condo association: How large is the reserve fund for unexpected repairs or replacements, what has been the experience in the last five years for one time assessments.

We are about 1/3 one bedroom units and 2/3 two bedroom units. Most units are occupied by a single person or married couples. There are maybe half a dozen of units with children. With a young child my personal opinion is that a two bedroom unit would work, but once they get to their teen years I'd want more space.
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countofmc
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by countofmc »

Steelersfan wrote:I live in and am a board member in our 44 unit condo. It's been a very positive experience and I really enjoy not doing yard work and exterior maintenance.

The first thing to do is check for any rental restrictions. Many condos have none, many do, and they can be more or less restrictive. Ours has them but we allow rental to family members, and children or parents would qualify.

The next thing to do is check on the financial health of the condo association: How large is the reserve fund for unexpected repairs or replacements, what has been the experience in the last five years for one time assessments.

We are about 1/3 one bedroom units and 2/3 two bedroom units. Most units are occupied by a single person or married couples. There are maybe half a dozen of units with children. With a young child my personal opinion is that a two bedroom unit would work, but once they get to their teen years I'd want more space.
Thank you! How often do common wall maintenance issues or similar arise, and how are these resolved? Say a leak caused by Unit A that requires going into Unit B and doing maintenance work there to fix?
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Herekittykitty »

Check out the smoking regulations. Is smoking allowed in the apartment, on the balcony, or anywhere on the grounds? Anywhere that secondhand smoke could blow back into your unit if you had the windows open?

Whether you are a smoker or non smoker, that could matter to you.

Also if the condo allowed smoking in the past but doesn't now and you and/or your parents are non smokers - you may want to be sure there isn't a smoke odor in the walls, carpets, and so on.
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by adamthesmythe »

A few thoughts

- in addition to rental restrictions you might want to check on restrictions on short-term rentals (airbnb etc.). In my mind allowing this is a big negative.

- you want to be sure construction is good, converted apartment buildings may have poor sound insulation

- of course financial stability of the association is very important. Also read, completely understand, and be willing to live with the rules and restrictions.
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rob
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by rob »

Steelersfan wrote:I live in and am a board member in our 44 unit condo.
This has been my worst experience with condo's..... I know people get great groups of board members but some - like my experience - are just power hungry fruit cakes.
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sdsailing
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by sdsailing »

I consider condos to be high risk. Too much potential for crazy 60-100K assessments and lawsuits. Many horror stories on this forum as well as ones i know of personally.
student
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by student »

I live in a large condo complex and I have lived here for almost 15 years. It is in a two-story building. Everything is perfect except I can hear my neighbors, which bugs me. For the first two years, the management company wasn't very good as they do not respond to repair in a timely fashion. After a change of management company, I have no complaints. I am thinking about moving but I am too cheap to do it as a "dream" house will cost 3 times as much with only 30% increase of living space. I have never lived in a house as a owner, so I do not know the negative of living in a house.
killjoy2012
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by killjoy2012 »

Be aware that the monthly association fees can go up, and drastically. Also be aware of how the condo association is governed, who is making what decisions, etc. I've had a sibling buy a brand new condo in a new subdivision with the monthly fees being $X, and by the 5th year, the monthly fees were 3-4x $X. The builder had a controlling interest, and the condo meetings were during the day during the work week...

They wound up selling the condo for a loss b/c no perspective buyers wanted to pay the borderline outrageous association fees.
randomguy
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by randomguy »

MrNewEngland wrote:As a single guy I lived in a condo in the downtown area of my town for 12 years. A couple years ago a bought a house and rented the condo out... and I kick myself almost every day for doing it. Condos are the best.
They are hit and miss and a lot depends both on the individual (i.e. the people that want 5 acres aren't going to like condos), the building (sound proofing can vary from none to the guy next door could use a jack hammer and you wouldn't hear it), and luck (getting stuck next to smokers, loud people, smelly cooking, yappy dog, or whatever annoys you).

There is a to be said though for not having a yard and outsourcing maintence. And often you get locations where you have no chance of getting a stand alone house.
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Steelersfan
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Steelersfan »

countofmc wrote:
Thank you! How often do common wall maintenance issues or similar arise, and how are these resolved? Say a leak caused by Unit A that requires going into Unit B and doing maintenance work there to fix?
That's going to depend on the age, construction quality how well the building has been maintained over the years. It's really no different than a house you might buy. Our buildings are 80 years old so I expect we have more than newer buildings.

We have one or two situations like that a year and they are corrected within a day or at most two. The cost is born by the offending unit owner (if the leak is in his/her unit) or the condo association if the leak is in the building infrastructure. The leak gets fixed and costs are sorted out after the fact. Those types of repairs are built into our monthly condo association fees.

We have a good board and a very good management company. Most condos are like that, some are not. Do your homework before you buy.
gloomydog
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by gloomydog »

I think it really just depends on how well run the HOA is. My HOA is very good so financials are therefore wonderful. Plenty of reserves for anything we need, everything major taken care of, yet no very nosy people meddling with your every little business.

HOA is as good as the volunteers are.
afatcat
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by afatcat »

Get a top unit if you can, unless the building is rock solid. Having a stomper and/or running kid above you in a poorly sound insulated building is no way to live. It's like having someone randomly come up behind you and slap you in the head in your own home. I had to sell a unit I was otherwise happy in due to this.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Fletch »

My son and family lived in a townhouse for several years. As others have said, it depends on the specifics of the unit, the HOA, and perhaps the local government as to who can live there. These were his experiences:

Pro: Cost is less than a single family house. Grass cutting and trimming done by the HOA.

Con: Neighborhood went downhill rapidly when it opened up to subsidized housing in some of the units a couple of years after my son purchased the townhouse. Drug deals going down in the street etc. Not save for his kids to play outside unsupervised. HOA dictated several exterior painting and repairs that did not seem necessary - power quest? Some of the neighbors did not have the same values as my son - e.g. they cut down one of the small trees on his property without asking - said it blocked their view. He decided not to pursue in order to try and maintain some harmony. He moved about a year ago to a single family home. He and his family are very pleased and would not move back to a townhouse.

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Maverick3320
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Maverick3320 »

killjoy2012 wrote:Be aware that the monthly association fees can go up, and drastically. Also be aware of how the condo association is governed, who is making what decisions, etc. I've had a sibling buy a brand new condo in a new subdivision with the monthly fees being $X, and by the 5th year, the monthly fees were 3-4x $X. The builder had a controlling interest, and the condo meetings were during the day during the work week...

They wound up selling the condo for a loss b/c no perspective buyers wanted to pay the borderline outrageous association fees.
This.

I bought my condo (townhouse, but basically the same thing) in April 2010. The monthly association fees were 150/month. They have steadily risen over time to 210/month starting last year, along with a $1000 "special assessment" every year. In other words, basically a 90% rise in 5 years.

Yeah, they do all the lawn mowing - at 5AM on Sunday morning right outside my bedroom window (they have been good about prompt snowblowing, though). I have a corner unit, and they have redone the landscaping like four times now as well. Why they keep changing the flower and tree arrangements, I have no idea - but I know that we keep paying for it.
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dm200
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dm200 »

There are many (often misunderstood) aspects to this question.

Primarily, "Condo" is a form of ownership and has little to do with the actual "residence". An apartment may be a condo, as can a townhouse. So, one, more focused, question is do you want to live in an apartment or a townhouse?

With "Condo" ownership, you are subject to the decisions of the ownership association. On one extreme, for example, the governing association might choose to want the "best" everything - and make the owners pay. You may not want (or want to pay for) fancy and luxurious living. On the other extreme, the governing association might choose to be very, very basic - or worse, refuse to pay for necessary upkeep and maintenance.
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cinghiale
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by cinghiale »

Here's something that seldom gets mentioned: Try to find out who your neighbors will be. If you have time, attend a condo owners' meeting. (Not always easy as some only meet once a year.). Try to visit the condo building at a time when you can bump into people. Introduce yourself. Mention that you may be interested in buying. Ask them how they like living there. Ask about noise, assessments, problem owners (or renters). Ask, "What are the best things about living here? What are the worst things?"

We owned a condo when we were first starting out, and returned to one as we approached retirement. We didn't do any of the things that I recommend doing. We got very, very lucky. We are in a smaller community (under 40 units) and just one or two bad owners, or crazed renters, can have a big impact. Overall, though, it has been a very good move.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by barnaclebob »

I personally love home ownership and would never want a condo long term. No space for hobbies that take equipment. No place for tools to build or work on things. Zero or very limited vegetable garden space. Noisy upstairs neighbors. No yard or private area to sit outside. Condo fees and special assessments. And the list goes on. If I had to live in a condo I would rent for sure.

Then again if you are childless, want very little maintenance, and you hobby is playing video games, a condo might be great.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by squirm »

student wrote:I live in a large condo complex and I have lived here for almost 15 years. It is in a two-story building. Everything is perfect except I can hear my neighbors, which bugs me. .
Biggest reason I would never live on a condo.
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telemark
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by telemark »

Be aware that the market is very volatile. There's a regular boom/bust cycle of overbuilding followed by a crash followed by more overbuilding... This is true for all real estate but seems to be more pronounced for apartments/condos.
tedclu
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by tedclu »

Love living in a condo in downtown of a mid size city.

150 units,
++s
heated parking, 24 hr doorman, can't hear neighbors. well funded association ($mm in the bank), private green space, don't really have to do any work, short walk to work. less than 10% rental (so FHA loan compliance for potential new owners)

--s
have to deal with association, the board make the rules, management co also owns a maintenance co, some no bid contracts. association fee is more than my mortgage. Internet, cable, doorman, heat, ++ are all build in to the monthly fees.

IF don't like to be told what to do by the board, then avoid condos.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Ninegrams »

afatcat wrote:Get a top unit if you can, unless the building is rock solid. Having a stomper and/or running kid above you in a poorly sound insulated building is no way to live. It's like having someone randomly come up behind you and slap you in the head in your own home. I had to sell a unit I was otherwise happy in due to this.
This. Of all the things that were annoying about condo living, this was the worst. I had an upstairs neighbor that liked to clomp around at all hours in cowboy boots, on hardwood floors. After that experience, my next condo was townhouse style which was relative bliss by comparison.
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John151
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by John151 »

I've lived in a condo association for over thirty years, and I've spent some of those years as a board member. Board members are almost always well-intentioned, but they're unpaid volunteers, and there's a limit to how much they're willing to do.

For example, in my association, the board is required to hold four meetings a year. In practice, our board has been meeting only once a year, and the board hasn't published minutes of its meetings in over a decade. The only way to find out what's going on is to attend the annual meeting or to contact the board members individually. Very few unit owners bother to do that. As long as the grass is cut and their garbage is hauled away, most unit owners don't get involved.

Another problem is that few if any board members bother to read our governing documents, such as our “Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions.” Instead, the board members think they can pass whatever supplemental rules they want to, as long as the rules are “fair” and generally acceptable. So we have rules that conflict with our governing documents, and that means that some of our rules are legally unenforceable.

On the other hand, the board has done a good job of managing the association’s finances, and we have a healthy balance in our reserves.

So if you’re thinking of making an offer on a condo, gather as much information as you can. Ask for a copy of the “Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions.” Ask for a copy of the supplemental rules. Ask for the association’s most recent budget and financial statements. Talk to a few people who live in the association and decide if you’d like to have them for your neighbors.

For me, the advantages of living in a condo association outweigh the disadvantages. But condo life isn’t for everyone.
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Meg77
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Meg77 »

I lived in a low-rise condo building in Dallas for 8 years in my 20s and loved it. I was on the middle of 3 floors but at the end of a hall and rarely ever had noise issues (never from above but heard the people down the hall having a party a handful of times). I loved having a concierge who could accept and hold packages and let in the cable guy or dishwasher repairman even if I wasn't home.

The dues didn't go up at all until they jumped 20% the 2nd to last year I lived there in order to cover the payment on a loan for a massive pool and foundation renovation. They had been in a lawsuit for a decade with the builder and designer over a flaw that caused leaking into the underground parking garage (under the pool) every time it rained hard. Finally they dropped the lawsuit and decided to just pay to fix it. The new pool and landscaping is super nice and the increased dues aren't that big a deal to me since they never do annual raises. I think I had one $1000 special assessment in there somewhere for a massive interior renovation at one point early on.

I loved that condo so much I kept it when I got married and moved down the street to a townhome. If my husband dies or we divorce or even if we just want to dramatically downsize once our pets are dead, I'd be happy to move back into that condo. The condo fees are nothing compared to the upkeep required to maintain your own roof and garden and windows and all the interior upkeep as well on a bigger home.

And I deal with more neighbor noise in our townhouse row now since noise from the front sidewalk echoes as there are 2 rows of townhomes facing each other - and new neighbors like to have late night rooftop deck parties. The noise isn't a huge deal overall, but luck and location have a lot to do with it. For what it's worth my in-laws have a SF house in the burbs but their neighbor keeps some kind of crazy birds that make a ton of racket that makes enjoying their yard/patio or even sitting in their kitchen fairly unbearable. And they are having foundation repairs, and they had to replace the "cheap" windows," and and and...not to mention that if they weren't retired their commutes would be a nightmare. homeownership always comes with pros and cons regardless of type!
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ladders11
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by ladders11 »

Get income statements, current balance sheet, list of all owners, and estimates of major repairs and assessments upcoming. Also review what recurring obligations the HOA has with insurance, taxes, management fees, and even master association dues. Imagine talking with the Association President and the Property Manager both for this type of information.

Some associations have solid reserves sitting in a money market for the next repairs, some have next to nothing. Also keep in mind as an owner the future reserves come from your pocket, so if the current dues are providing for a reserve fund and you move out, that money goes to the next owner. So it is like an odd inheritance, either one you are receiving when you buy or leaving when you move on.

Some associations have concentrated ownership where people or companies own multiple units.

Some communities have lots of owners who rent out their units - very common in the "starter" price range for people to move up/out and keep their old home rented out for (what they think will be) profit. Can be less desirable and more like an apartment community.
delamer
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by delamer »

I lived in shared walls environments for 15 years and was very happy to move to a single-family home. I don't see going back to shared walls until I have no other option (like assisted living). Even considerate neighbors can't compensate for poor insulation between units. I'd much rather pay someone to do yard work and shovel snow then deal with noise issues.

Having said all that, my husband, for instance, is not nearly as bothered by noise in general as I am. So what is a dealbreaker for me might be a minor irritation for others.

Shared walls also mean that you are to some degree entangled with your neighbors financially due to HOA fees, alhough that also can be true in single-family home communities.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by michaeljc70 »

It depends where you will live. Where I live, in Chicago, if you want to live in a high rise, they almost all have very high monthly assessments. Most have door men. They are in a union (I'll leave it at that). The halls need to be cleaned. Of course, the politicians and their cronies do everything to make owning more expensive (very strict codes, safety measures, etc.) and line their pockets.

For example, a piece of a building fell off a terracotta building and the city went crazy with regulations (I am not saying there shouldn't be any). Now some buildings need to have a very expensive inspection done. This is not a one time thing either.

I have friends living in not luxurious one bedroom apartments paying in the $700-$1100 range for assessments.

Anyway, where I am going with this is I would only go into a condo with low assessments (which tend to be low rise 3 unit buildings where I live) or a townhouse.

Like others have said, it is a gamble as to whether you have good neighbors or not. I would rather not take the gamble if I didn't have to. It is not cheap or easy to move.

I know someone that bought a condo. It was around $800k. After they moved in, they realized the owner above had 3 kids and a dog (they never saw/heard them during the showings or inspection). They kept complaining. The owner was on the board. They wound up selling and moving. Expensive.
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Taylor Larimore
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Then and now

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Bogleheads:

We live on the 35th floor of a condominium next door to the house where I grew up as a boy.

Now that our children are grown, I much prefer the condominium.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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marc in merrimack
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by marc in merrimack »

As was remarked to me once, condo living is like renting an apartment. But now you own the place.
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John151
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by John151 »

Picking up on something ladders11 said, you should try to find out how many units in the association are owner-occupied and are likely to stay that way. Mortgage lenders may shy away from associations where over half of the units are rentals. This might not be a problem when you’re buying, but it could become a problem when you’re selling.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by southbay »

marcwd wrote:As was remarked to me once, condo living is like renting an apartment. But now you own the place.
as a former condo owner, i concur. i felt like i owned an apartment. should i ever want to live in an apartment again, i will rent it, not own it.
dewey
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dewey »

The one thing to be wary of is a Board change that erodes the governing documents/rules. Two condo experiences taught me there are lots of people who think the rules are for everyone else. Once the ethic and code of condo living are weakened it's very difficult to restore. Then it's not far away from lawsuits (which the condo owners pay), bad feelings, and a place a lot of people wish they'd left. Our first experience was a good one. Our second--which we intended to retire in since it was a very new and over 55 active adult, gated, community that unfortunately quickly became a 'retirees' village with a Board that turned things upside down in a hurry. At considerable cost to us, we left in order to return to more normal living, which we have now thankfully. I guess my main point is to urge caution with a condo. It can workout. But it might not.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by midareff »

Last twenty years split between two condos. Present one in the 13th year. Building supplies hot water, air-conditioning, hurricane insurance, gas BBQ grills, expanded cable service including two premium movie channels, housekeeping in the hallways and common areas, grounds keeping, building maintenance and 24 hour concierge. Fenced and secured 11 floor 167 unit building on a restricted access island with it's own police force. .. very safe area. Building maintenance staff will do light work for you on the side much less than calling for professional service.

HOA is OK, I was on three boards along the way. Reserves are up to date for elevators, roof, painting, etc. Weekends there are many kids at the pool and I think the noise is great. Kids playing in the pool and out on the street are what a neighborhood is about. You go overseas on tour, neighbor waters your plants and brings up the mail. It's all Pro's for me.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by whaleknives »

adamthesmythe wrote:. . . Also read, completely understand, and be willing to live with the rules and restrictions.
The written rules may not make any difference, unless you're willing to sue. The enforcement of condominium rules can be arbitrary: some are strictly enforced, while others are ignored when the association can financially benefit.

We were asked to move kayaks and canoes stored outside the condo we were renting, while the association was profiting from charging for boat trailer storage (against explicit rules).
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Steelersfan »

John151 wrote:Picking up on something ladders11 said, you should try to find out how many units in the association are owner-occupied and are likely to stay that way. Mortgage lenders may shy away from associations where over half of the units are rentals. This might not be a problem when you’re buying, but it could become a problem when you’re selling.
That a very good point.

In my area there are plenty of mortgage lenders who are happy to write non-FHA mortgage loans but I suspect there are towns/cities where that's not the case.

Besides, living in a condo association with lots of rentals is usually less peaceful than one of primarily owner occupied units. We changed our declaration a couple of years ago to prevent future sales from becoming rentals, and with normal sales turnover have definitely noticed the positive difference as the number of renter occupied units has decreased.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Old Guy »

Big plus--no lawn mowing; no leaf raking.
Hypersion
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Hypersion »

Condo are for two types of people. The first likes the condo lifestyle of less privacy but more amenities. The second want to live in a certain area either because of work, school district or close to something else but can't afford a SFH.

For example I live in a condo in with a 15 minute commute to work, good school district and next to a three parks and two lakes. I would rather have a SFH but I bought a condo and plain on living in it for 5 to 10 year before I build but enough equity to get a SFH.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by stoptothink »

Hypersion wrote:Condo are for two types of people. The first likes the condo lifestyle of less privacy but more amenities. The second want to live in a certain area either because of work, school district or close to something else but can't afford a SFH.

For example I live in a condo in with a 15 minute commute to work, good school district and next to a three parks and two lakes. I would rather have a SFH but I bought a condo and plain on living in it for 5 to 10 year before I build but enough equity to get a SFH.
I wanted to be able to walk to work, it was priority #1. There are several condo/townhome communities surrounding my office, I am pretty sure there isn't a single SFH home within a mile; about the furthest I am willing to walk October-March when it is usually snowing. We could have easily afforded a SFH in the general area, but significantly decreasing our dependence on cars (we both work, but decided to go down to one car) wasn't going to happen. We ended up buying a townhome ~1/3 mile from my office (~3 miles from my wife's) and couldn't be happier.
dickyboy
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dickyboy »

I've always felt that buying a condo and living in one is not much different than renting, only you're paying all of the rent up front...and additionally you've got the hassle of selling it when you're done. Am I missing something ???
tedclu
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by tedclu »

dickyboy wrote:I've always felt that buying a condo and living in one is not much different than renting, only you're paying all of the rent up front...and additionally you've got the hassle of selling it when you're done. Am I missing something ???
I agree to a point, but you do own your unit and part of the association. You can make certain decisions and where rental does not.


You could make some $$ if you buy at the right time.
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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Taylor Larimore »

I've always felt that buying a condo and living in one is not much different than renting, only you're paying all of the rent up front...and additionally you've got the hassle of selling it when you're done. Am I missing something ???
dickyboy:

In the 70s we purchased a two-bedroom Miami condo (Grove Isle) under construction for $110,000 with $11,000 down payment. Five years later we sold for $350,000 -- the best investment we ever made.

Best wishes
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
stoptothink
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by stoptothink »

Taylor Larimore wrote:
I've always felt that buying a condo and living in one is not much different than renting, only you're paying all of the rent up front...and additionally you've got the hassle of selling it when you're done. Am I missing something ???
dickyboy:

In the 70s we purchased a two-bedroom Miami condo (Grove Isle) under construction for $110,000 with $11,000 down payment. Five years later we sold for $350,000 -- the best investment we ever made.

Best wishes
Taylor
Our townhome was built in 2013. The original owners paid $150k, we purchased it last November for $195k (appreciation thanks to my employer building its global headquarters 1/3 mile away), and now 6-months later our across-the street neighbor (we are end row, they are not, and ours has significantly higher upgrades) was just put on the market for $220k and I believe they have already received offers. Really hot market because of the booming tech sector. Not as easy to sell as a SFH, but most of the rules of buying/selling still apply.
miles monroe
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by miles monroe »

as a retired long distance hiker, i'm away from my home for long stretches at a time. i think condos -- top floor only! -- make sense for someone like me. no outside maintenance, and i think a condo would be safer from a break-in than a SFH. but the black hole of HOA fees and potential special assessments has caused me to stay put for the time being. so i'm still in a house but a condo is always in the back of my mind.
Revision17
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Revision17 »

I just moved into a townhouse styled condo about 6 months ago because it's close to where I work, it was cheaper than a single family home and I dislike lawn care. So far so good! My HOA seems to currently well managed and cost conscious, although they do have some debts from the past.

One thing to look into is "Loss Assessment" coverage for your condo insurance policy. My HOA actually requires it. It covers many types of special assessments. For me, going from the base $1000 to $5000 was $30 per year, and $5000 to $10000 was $2 per year.

If anyone has had an experience with filing a Loss Assessment claim, I'd be interested in hearing them :sharebeer
Nissanzx1
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Nissanzx1 »

Brother bought a 1BR unit up on 3rd floor 3 years ago for $28K cash. Dumped $10K into it on updates. $185 mo dues include insurance, water, trash, cable. It’s really inexpensive living.

Super-nosy older neighbors that all insist on smoking indoors (yuck!) and turned him into the association for having one extra vehicle in the rear of the lot.
Valuethinker
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Valuethinker »

countofmc wrote: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:28 pm We are considering buying a condo in another city (where my parents currently live). The idea is that my parents are probably going to sell their house in the next 1-2 years as they transition into retirement and want to downsize. The key is they want to sell their home while the market is doing well, and then reassess their long-term retirement plans (as to where to live). I was thinking we could buy a condo there, rent it out to my parents for a couple of years while they sort out their plans, and then hopefully we can find jobs there and move in once my parents have figured things out. This kind of jives with our own long-term plans of moving to a lower COL area.

I was hoping to get some opinions from past/present condo/townhouse owners on your experiences. My wife and I are still undecided on children, but probably will not have any, or 1 at the most. So having a lot of space is not a big priority, and we like just having less rooms to clean, no yardwork, etc. So we think condo life might be good for us. Conversely, some of the things we are concerned about are potential neighbor noise issues, HOA issues, etc. Also, maybe this is an unwarranted concern, but one of the "values" of owning a home seems to be owning the land beneath you. Condo ownership doesn't seem to really have that "land ownership".

I was thinking a townhouse might meet a happy compromise, but not sure about that.
As a general principle:

- I would not get involved in your parents' housing decisions. (I realise that for many 1st-2nd gen immigrants to North America this is a reality -- family is all important).

If you have to help your parents financially, then fine.

What you want to avoid is prejudging or constraining their choices. If they are downsizing, they should rent for a year.

You should not make the biggest financial decision of your life, owning property, around what they "might" do.

- you do not know what will happen with your careers. Don't buy a condo to rent (that your parents might feel obligated to live in, or conversely would decide not to rent) -- buy a condo when you know you want to live in it

- so in general do not confuse housing decisions (a lifestyle choice) with investment decisions. Condos are generally bad investments relative to houses except in markets where there is no choice (downtowns especially of a city like New York).

- re townhouse : no it's not a happy compromise. It can have the problems of both - neighbour noise or habits can be a (big) issue, and you still have the condominium ownership problem
TheOscarGuy
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by TheOscarGuy »

countofmc wrote: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:28 pm We are considering buying a condo in another city (where my parents currently live). The idea is that my parents are probably going to sell their house in the next 1-2 years as they transition into retirement and want to downsize. The key is they want to sell their home while the market is doing well, and then reassess their long-term retirement plans (as to where to live). I was thinking we could buy a condo there, rent it out to my parents for a couple of years while they sort out their plans, and then hopefully we can find jobs there and move in once my parents have figured things out. This kind of jives with our own long-term plans of moving to a lower COL area.

I was hoping to get some opinions from past/present condo/townhouse owners on your experiences. My wife and I are still undecided on children, but probably will not have any, or 1 at the most. So having a lot of space is not a big priority, and we like just having less rooms to clean, no yardwork, etc. So we think condo life might be good for us. Conversely, some of the things we are concerned about are potential neighbor noise issues, HOA issues, etc. Also, maybe this is an unwarranted concern, but one of the "values" of owning a home seems to be owning the land beneath you. Condo ownership doesn't seem to really have that "land ownership".

I was thinking a townhouse might meet a happy compromise, but not sure about that.
We bought a condo first and then a single family home. If I have to do it all over again, I would skip condo. although we did not lose any money in the process, I was frequently frustrated with how the association was run. It was a 100+ townhomes condo, and within it, it was divided into owners who seem to get the best of benefits from HOA, and those that got worst of it. I would much rather know where I am spending my money, when it comes to maintaining my home.
arf30
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by arf30 »

I bought a 2BR condo after the housing crash 10 years ago. It's quiet and the community is well run. However the value of the condos are pretty much identical to when I bought it, and this is in a hot real estate area. The monthly fees have also increased from $150 to $300 (about $15/year), which is slightly alarming. We couldn't afford a regular house in this area at the time we bought it, so I don't regret the decision.
rich126
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by rich126 »

At times a condo sounds interesting to me as I get older but my big issues are:

1. Noise
2. Maintenance of the building
3. Cleanliness of the facility

I've never lived in a big city so I'm not use to dealing with those kinds of things. I've had one townhouse and the rest of the time individual homes. I don't think I could handle having people live above and below me.

I found the nosy neighbor comment entertaining. I had a very nice grandmother who lived in a SFH and I visited frequently as a kid but I always recall her peeking out the window and then telling me stories about various neighbors (none of whom I knew at all).
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