Difference of Condo and House
Jordon Scrinko
Published by Jordon Scrinko
Last Updated On: March 19, 2024

Condo vs House – Major Differences, Pros & Cons To Know

If you are researching the differences between a condo and a house, you are planning to buy a home. Hence, it is important to know the differences between these two property types. Both options allow you to become a homeowner and build equity on your property, but the similarities end here.

Specifically, many individuals consider purchasing a condo or house based on their budget, space requirements, and lifestyle preferences. So, let’s list both of these property types in detail to help you make an informed choice.

What Is A House?

A house is also known as a single-family house or a single-family home. It has four exterior walls not attached to any other residential structure. Houses come in various sizes, shapes, and designs, ranging from simple bungalows to multi-story mansions.

Typically, houses are situated on land that includes a front and back yard, and the homeowner also owns the land along with any additional structures, such as a detached garage or in-law unit.

In some cities, particularly in historic districts, houses may be townhouses or row houses, narrow, multi-story dwellings that share one or two walls with neighboring properties yet have their own entrance and front or backyard space.

What Is A Condo?

A condo is an individual unit within a larger complex that you own, also known as a condominium. This type of property is part of a shared complex or building, and the square footage of a condo is generally less than that of a standalone house.

Condominiums could also be row houses, but apartments are the most common condo variant. Hence, you will have neighbors above, below, and beside you, and you will have a community living.

Typically known as the condo association, this entity is responsible for the upkeep of the building’s co-buildings. They allocate your condo fees to ensure the building is well-maintained and repairs are addressed promptly. Understanding how the condo association operates is vital if you’re considering buying a condo.

A homeowners association (HOA) or condo board oversees the ownership and management of the building’s outbuildings and the shared outdoor space, such as the outdoor areas, swimming pools, parking facilities, clubhouses, and gyms.

Condo complexes vary in the range of amenities they offer, which is often influenced by their size and geographical location.

Further, condos are prominent among first-time homebuyers, downsizers, and investors. They are usually cheaper than houses, but you must watch out for those annoying Homeowner Association fees or HOA fees.

Condo Vs. House: Major Differences To Know

The primary distinction between a condo and a house is that a condo is a living unit inside a multi-unit structure. 

On the other hand, houses or single-family houses are typically detached structures separated from neighboring homes by private property.

Normally, condos share walls with adjacent units, and common areas connect the units to the building like a gym). Condo owners own their unit, not the building or land on which it is situated. Traditional householders own the residence and the land on which it is situated.

A few other differences are as follows:

1. Cost:

Condo Costs:

Condos are generally more affordable than houses, especially in urban areas. However, they come with monthly HOA fees that cover common area maintenance and amenities.

House Costs:

Houses typically cost more upfront and require the owner to pay for all maintenance and repairs. Unlike condos, there are no HOA fees, but the homeowner is responsible for the entire property.

2. Insurance Costs:

Condo Insurance Costs:

Condo owners typically pay less for homeowner’s insurance because their policy only needs to cover the interior of their unit. The Homeowners Association (HOA) generally holds a separate policy that covers exterior and common area damages, such as issues with the building’s cladding and roofing.

House Insurance Costs:

In contrast, owners of single-family houses must insure their entire property. This includes the structure itself—from the foundation to the roof—as well as any detached structures on the property, like a garage or shed. This comprehensive coverage tends to result in higher insurance costs for homeowners compared to condo owners.

3. Maintenance Costs:

Condo Maintenance Costs:

In a condo community, the Homeowners Association (HOA) is in charge of exterior maintenance. This includes the upkeep of shared spaces and the building’s exterior. Condo owners are responsible for the interior maintenance of their units, which encompasses HVAC units, pest control, and appliances.

Condo fees, paid by all residents, cover these maintenance tasks and other minor costs, thus relieving individual owners of the burden of extensive housekeeping.

House Maintenance Costs:

For a single-family home, the homeowner is fully responsible for maintaining the entire property. This includes both interior and exterior maintenance, such as yard work, exterior repairs, and general house upkeep.

Homeowners must manage and finance all aspects of property maintenance without the shared cost structure found in a condo community.

4. Amenities:

Condo Amenities:

In a condo complex, residents benefit from shared amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, and business center. The costs for these amenities are divided among all residents, making access to such facilities more economical for each condo owner.

Different complexes offer various amenities, influencing the maintenance fees—those with more luxurious amenities tend to have higher charges.

House Amenities:

Conversely, homeowners who desire similar amenities must bear the full cost of installation and ongoing maintenance. For instance, adding a private swimming pool or personal gym to a single-family home can be a significant investment, both financially and in terms of space.

While these features enhance the living experience and property value, they also require a commitment to regular upkeep and higher utility bills.

5. Location:

Condo Locations:

The majority of condos tend to be situated in densely populated urban areas since condos take up less space. This proximity to the city center means access to restaurants, stores, and cultural attractions that are often within walking distance, offering a vibrant lifestyle that many urban dwellers seek.

House Locations:

In contrast, houses or single-family homes are typically situated on their parcels of land, allowing them to be in less dense locations such as suburbs or rural areas. This provides homeowners with more space and privacy.

6. HOA Rules:

Condo HOA Rules:

A few condo communities have a governing board or condo associations that could determine a variety of things, including the types of pets inhabitants can have, where to park, and whether or not they can sublease their units.

House HOA Rules:

While some single-family home communities have HOAs, they are generally less restrictive compared to those in condo communities and promote more homeowner autonomy.

7. Selling:

Condo Selling:

In general, selling a condo can be more challenging than selling a house. As a condo owner, you must ensure that you comply with all the rules set by the Homeowners Association (HOA), including being up-to-date with your dues. The HOA may also have the right to screen potential buyers, which could narrow down the pool of people who can purchase your condo.

House Selling:

On the other hand, selling a house is a more straightforward process. Homeowners are not usually subject to the rules of an HOA that may screen potential buyers. This means that as a homeowner, you have the flexibility to sell your property to any interested party without the need for additional approvals, potentially making the process faster and less complicated.

Hence, in short:

If you purchase a home, you would be liable for every expense associated with property ownership and maintenance, such as the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, utility bills, house and garden maintenance, as well as any repairs or renovations.

If you own a home, you likely own a great deal more property, so your property taxes will likely be higher.

Yet, when you buy a condo, you own the unit’s interior and, in some cases, a parking space. You will share ownership of outdoor and common areas with other homeowners in your building.

You will also incur a monthly maintenance fee that may include heat, electricity, water, landscaping, pest control, building insurance, and other amenities.

A part of this fee will be deposited into a reserve fund for major building improvements and repairs, like the roof or elevators.

Pros & Cons Of Condo Ownership

Since the HOA or condo board handles most of the maintenance, purchasing condos can be ideal for first-time homebuyers seeking to switch from rental to owning or for homeowners looking to downsize. 

Furthermore, condos can also be a wise investment for someone who moves routinely or wants to live in a highly desirable neighborhood but cannot afford a single-family home.

Additionally, condos are a good option for owners who desire on-site amenities such as a pool or fitness center but cannot afford to construct or maintain them. Being a condo owner has its pros and cons.

The Pros:

  • Affordable: Condos are typically more affordable than houses, making them ideal for first-time homeowners with low down payment funds or retirees looking to downsize.
  • Less maintenance: If you own a home, you are solely responsible. If you want a low-maintenance option, you may do.
  • Added benefits: Unlike single-family homes, many condo communities include amenities such as pools, playgrounds, and security systems. Hence, if you desire these for your house, you will be responsible for their installation and payment.
  • Urban living: In recent years, the resurgence of urban living has led to a rise in the number of purchasers opting for condos over houses. Furthermore, condos are typically situated within walking distance of stores, restaurants, and other points of interest in the locality.

The Cons:

  • Fees: Condo associations collect a monthly HOA fee to cover maintenance and other expenses, such as property-wide insurance coverage. They could also occasionally levy special assessments to address financial shortfalls or unexpected costs. Additionally, condos have association fees in addition to the monthly mortgage payment.
  • Less privacy: Because you will share walls with your neighbors, you will not have as much seclusion or quiet as you would in a house. You will also have to share facilities such as the gym and pool.
  • Rules: Based on your HOA’s rules, HOA’say not have as much flexibility to decorate or personalize your condo.

Pros & Cons Of Owning Houses

Single-family houses typically offer more space, making them ideal for expanding families or individuals who want full control over structural and aesthetic choices (assuming there is no HOA in the neighborhood). 

A single-family home is your best option if you want a private living space and do not wish to share common areas with other residents. However, it would help if you were mentally and financially prepared to manage all interior and exterior repairs and upkeep.

Let’s check the pros and cons houses offer.

The Pros:

  • Customizability: When you own a house that is not part of a homeowners’ homeowners’ list, you can do anything you want, as long as it complies with local regulations.
  • Private living space: You will be far away from your neighbors’ privacy.
  • Easy to sell: You won’t need HOwon’troval to sell your house, so there’s one obstacle when placing your property on the real estate market. Additionally, houses offer a greater return on investment.

The Cons:

  • Can be pricey: Depending on its position, size, and numerous other factors, a house can be significantly more expensive than a condo and other forms of property.
  • Maintaining is your responsibility: Unlike in a condo, you are in charge of looking after the property, both inside and out, when you own a house. Hence, this can increase your expenses.
  • Lack of a pre-existing community: Compared to the common spaces of a condo, living in a house can appear more isolating. If you prioritize social contacts, you may have fewer opportunities to interact with neighbors.

Which Is A Better Investment: Condo Or A House?

When considering which is a good investment option, a condo or a house, condos are the best option at present. Still, the significant reduction in the cost of houses and the enormous rise in the cost of condos have placed potential investors in a conflict regarding condo vs. house.

According to surveys, condominium prices have touched at least six figures. This is the highest level ever recorded in the city of Toronto. Condo vs. home is the most debated subject in Toronto’s real estate and financial sectors.

Seeking professional advice can be invaluable. A qualified real estate agent will offer insights into the latest market trends and assist you in determining the most prudent investment choice between a condo and a house.

For those interested in condominium investments, especially pre-construction opportunities, Precondo stands out as a dedicated service provider. This firm is adept at guiding both investors and potential homeowners toward making informed decisions in the condominium market.

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