Condo or House? Exploring the Differences in Ownership


More than ever before, condo ownership represents an appealing alternative to traditional home ownership for all types of residents. Though condos have conventionally been the choice of singles and families without dependent children, more traditional families have begun experiencing the unique benefits of condo ownership. However, condos are certainly not for everyone. While condo ownership may provide access to certain amenities and limit time spent on upkeep, there can be certain restrictions – few of which are experienced by owners of single family homes. This article will consider the primary differences between condo and traditional home ownership. If you consider the facts in relation to your family’s goals, you may come to a better understanding of the best type of property for your family.

Two of the most important factors in determining what type of home is right for your family are location and lifestyle. If your family is looking to move to an urban environment where single family homes are scarce, a condo could be a good choice. In such markets, condos are always in high demand and appreciation often matches the best single family homes.

Additionally, if you live a busy life and can live without a large yard, a condo could help you live simply and happily. While most families with young children prefer single family homes for the added space, condos often provide amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and large open areas to help families relax and play.

However, there is far more to consider than location and lifestyle when deciding which type of property is best for your family. Nearly all of the differences between houses and condos stem from the different types of ownership. In the simplest terms, owners of single family homes are entitled to exclusive ownership, while most condo owners are subject to certain forms of shared ownership.

In regards to single family homes, exclusive ownership allows home owners to alter their home and surrounding property in nearly any way. While building codes may prevent certain home additions and other large-scale renovations, owners of single family homes can adapt their homes to meet their unique goals.

The owner of a condo is not always allowed to make such radical changes to their property. When purchasing a condo, owners are subject to the rules and regulations of the condo association or board. Typically composed of fellow residents, this governing body collects dues from condo owners to conduct ongoing maintenance of shared areas and perform any unexpected repairs. As part of the agreement with the condo board, new owners will be informed of what types of changes can be made to the interior and exterior of their property. In most cases, condo owners possess the same type of exclusive ownership inside their condos as homeowners, yet are limited in exterior alterations to maintain the uniformity of the community.

If you are thinking about purchasing a condo, it is important to read the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) before making a commitment. These documents include all the rules condo owners must follow and can vary widely between complexes. If you have indoor pets or other specific needs, make sure these are addressed in the CC&Rs to prevent any unwanted surprises. If you don’t understand any part of the CC&Rs when purchasing a condo, you can try to gain clarification from the director of the condo association.

While the concept of shared ownership might seem limiting to potential owners, there are certainly plenty of benefits. For instance, the owner of a single family home is solely responsible for any problems with the properties, incurring all costs of needed repairs. However, the dues paid by condo owner cover many repair costs – both inside and outside the home. Furthermore, condo ownership can also provide access to amenities – such as pools, spas and recreation equipment – outside the budget of a home owner.

Regardless of location, either a single family home or a condo can be the right fit for the right family. To make the most informed decision, all prospective home buyers should reflect on their own lifestyles and priorities and how they relate to the different types of property ownership. While there may be many differences between house and condo ownership, the goal is always the same – finding the best home for your family.