Thinking About Buying a Condo? Here Are 4 Common Misconceptions About Condos
“Condo” is short for “condominium,” and like most homes, it’s a private residence that you own. It’s usually part of a building (similar to an apartment building), and often has shared common spaces (whether it’s a clubhouse, a rec room, a pool, park, etc.).
Condo life has many perks, but it’s not for everyone! Making sure you know what a particular condo community entails before buying in it is of the utmost importance, and it’s especially important to keep in mind that not all condo communities are the same. While there are some general themes that are typically true of condo communities, each one has unique rules that you’ll need to adhere to.
When it comes to condo living, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what you can and can’t do, what it’s like to live in a condo, etc. Below you’ll find a few of the most popular misconceptions and the reality behind each one:
Misconception #1: HOA dues make it too expensive to live in a condo.
Reality: Yes and no. Each condo is different, and you’ll need to look into what their Home Owners Association Fees are. But even if the price shocks you at first, look into what exactly those HOAs include. To give you an idea, a few things that could be included in HOAs are:
- Common area maintenance: If there’s a clubhouse this might include cleaning it, if there’s a playground, this might include landscaping and general maintenance
- Landscaping: If there are gardens, lawns, a park, etc., you don’t have to do the yard work!
- Pool maintenance: If there’s a community pool, this means water maintenance and cleaning and cleaning of the surrounding areas
- Utilities: Water, sewer, electric, gas (These can all add up if you have a single-family home!)
- Trash & recycling pickup
- Road maintenance
- Cable and internet
- Gates and intercom system
If you were to pay for each of these items separately yourself, what would the grand total be? It might add up to be a better deal than you originally thought!
Misconception #2: My HOA dues will cover any unexpected maintenance expenses.
Reality: This may be true… up until a point. If you have a well-run HOA with a healthy reserve of funds, then if you have a major expense come up (like new roofing, for example), then theses funds can be used to make necessary renovations and repairs.
However, if your HOA doesn’t have a healthy reserve (or has been hit with a few big expenses recently), there could be a “special assessment.” This is where members of the HOA (this is you, if you own a condo in the community!) will be asked to contribute a set amount of money to help cover the costs. However, a special assessment can’t just spring up out of nowhere—members may have to vote, there may be limits on when special assessments are allowed, and laws that may limit how much a special assessment can be for. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules of your HOA so you know exactly what is and isn’t allowed.
Misconception #3: I can do anything I want to my condo since I own it.
Reality: While you probably have much more flexibility than someone who is renting, there are still certain rules you may need to abide by. This might seem unfair, especially since you own your condo fair and square, but by agreeing to live in a community, there are certain standards that everyone agrees to when they opt in. You might need approval for major renovations in your condo, especially if it involves moving any walls or touching utilities.
There may also be smaller rules that you need to abide by, such as the exterior color of your condo unit, your window coverings, and even what is allowed on your balcony if you have one.
Misconception #4: A condo is too small for my family.
Reality: Oftentimes, people think of condos as being small, but condos can actually come in any size. They can even be stand-alone homes and thousands of square feet! Someone might choose to live in a condo over a single-family home because they like that most things are taken care of by someone else. If you’re looking for a hassle-free lifestyle, a condo might be a great option for you and your family!