Difference of Condo and House
Jordon Scrinko
Published by Jordon Scrinko
Last Updated On: April 14, 2023

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

If you are searching for the differences between condo and house then you are probably 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 own property, but the similarities end here. Specifically, many individuals consider the purchase of a condo vs house based on their budget, space requirements, and lifestyle preferences. So let’s check more about both these property types in detail to help you make an informed choice.

What Is A House?

A house, also known as a single-family house or a single-family home, has four exterior walls not attached to any other residential structure. In addition, 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/or 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 in the form of a townhouse or row house, a narrow, multi-story dwelling that happens to share one or two walls with neighbouring properties. Yet has its own entrance and front or backyard space.

What Is A Condo?

A condominium or condo building is comparable to an apartment that you own. It is in a shared complex or building, and its square footage is usually considerably less than that of a home. Condominiums could also come in the shape of row houses, but apartments are the most common condo variant. Hence, you will have neighbours above, below, and beside you and you will have a community living.

A homeowners association (HOA) or a condo board owns and manages the building’s external and common spaces, such as outdoor space, swimming pools, parking garages, a clubhouse, and a fitness centre. According to their size and location, various condominium complexes feature diverse amenities.

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 house are typically detached structures separated from neighbouring homes by private property.

Normally, condos share walls with adjacent units, and common areas connect the units to the building’s amenities (like a gym). Condo owners own their individual 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:

Depending on your region, the cost of owning a house vs. a condo can be considerable. For example, a condo in a well-established area can cost significantly more than a single-family home. In several markets nationwide, a condo will be less expensive than a house; however, you must pay for regular homeowners association dues, also referred to as HOA fees or carrying charges.

2. Insurance Costs:

Condo owners pay less for homeowner’s insurance since they’re only liable for the inner space, whereas the HOA is liable for exterior elements such as cladding and roofing. Moreover, single-family house owner must insure their whole structure, from the ground to the roof, in addition to any detached structures, such as a garage or carport.

3. Maintenance Costs:

Maintenance consists of cleaning, inspecting, servicing, plumber costs, and any other routine services necessary.

The HOA is accountable for exterior maintenance in a condo community, while condo owners are accountable for interior space maintenance, including HVAC units, pest control, and appliances of their condo unit. Further, all the residents typically are responsible for paying for condo fees that cover all minor costs and relieve them of the burden of housekeeping. In addition, a homeowner is liable for maintaining the entire property like yard, exteriors, and more. Hence, the homeowner will take care of the entire building.

4. Amenities:

In a condo complex, the maintenance fees of amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness centre, and business centre is shared by all residents, allowing it to be more affordable for each individual. Different condo complexes have different amenities and condos with fewer amenities have comparatively lower charges. However, the homeowner has all the responsibility for the costs associated with installing similar amenities on their property.

5. Location:

Majority of condos tend to be situated in densely populated urban areas since condos take up less space. Hence, access to restaurants, stores, and cultural attractions are within walking distance. In contrast, houses or single family homes are situated on their parcels of land, allowing them to be in less dense locations. However, many housing developments, particularly in urban areas, fit numerous homes on small plots of land.

6. 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. Therefore, when deciding between a condo vs. house, it is essential to consider whether you are willing to adhere to HOA rules. Some single-family home communities have HOAs, but they are generally less restrictive and promote more homeowner autonomy.

7. Selling:

In general, you can have trouble selling condos as compared to home. Before selling your condo, you must verify with your HOA to ensure that you are in compliance with all rules, including paying your dues on time. Additionally, the HOA may screen prospective purchasers, which may limit your offers.

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, and 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 space and, in some cases, a parking space. You will share ownership of outdoor and common areas with other homeowners in your building. Also, you will incur a monthly maintenance fee that may include items such as 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 neighbourhood 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 centre 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 buy a condo.
  • 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 neighbours, 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, you may not have as much flexibility to decorate or personalise 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 neighbourhood). 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, you should be 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 not part of a homeowners’ association, you can do anything you want, as long as it complies with local regulations.
  • Private living space: You will be far away from neighbours’ fuss and have privacy in your house.
  • Easy to sell: You won’t need HOA approval to sell your house, so there’s one less 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 prioritise social contacts, you may have fewer opportunities to interact with neighbours.

Which Is A Better Investment: Condo Or A House?

When considering which is a good investment option between a condo or a house, condos are the best investment at present. Still, the significant reduction in the cost of houses and the enormous rise in the cost of condos has 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.

You can contact a real estate agent for better insights. A professional real estate agent can provide details about the current real estate market and help you make a sound decision.

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