Condo vs House | Which is Right For You?

August 12, 2022

Buyer Tips

Ah, a tale as old as time, Condo vs. House! My entry-level buyers often struggle with this question and I have to say I completely understand. 

Let’s go over the Pros and Cons to help you decide which is best for you. 

Maintenance 

When you own a single-family home it’s all on you baby. Leak in your roof? Tree falls on your neighbor’s car? Yeah, if it’s not covered by your home insurance policy, or by your home warranty then that would be on you to cover out of pocket. 

In Condos the common areas are considered communal responsibility so homeowners split capital expenditures that come up. One way associations do this is by tapping into reserves: the portion of the HOA dues that are reserved for such items and put away in savings, or by issuing an assessment: a new monthly or annual cost to all of the homeowners that goes towards the improvement bill. 

Winner of this round: Condo 

Improvements

Most homeowners end up personalizing or improving their property during the course of their ownership. In Condos you often have to seek approval from your association in addition to your city/county permitting offices before you take on a project like this.

Needing approval is annoying because it often extends the time period of renovations and you might not be allowed to do what you would if the property was only yours. Also, if your contractor happens to burst a pipe while working and that pipe floods your neighbor’s unit….that’s on you!

When improving your house you really eliminate a lot of bureaucracy and only have to focus on local safety and building guidelines. 

Winner of this round: House 

Outdoor Space

Some condos feature absolutely amazing outdoor space like rooftop decks, but more often than not you’re going to get more outdoor space with a house.

I know you’re all dreaming of that HUGE yard to host parties in. I was too. Until I got one! My huge yard is ….ANNOYING. Really unless you have 10 children or need a tremendous amount of space for a full guest house, pool, tennis court…etc. I am here to tell you there is such a thing as too much outdoor space to maintain. Grounds = expense to maintain for landscapers and security. 

That being said having a beautiful yard to host a birthday party or an al fresco dinner is delightful. Sitting outside with a glass of wine and listening to birds chirp is also delightful.

For clients who are looking for an LA crash pad - I tell them to go with a totally drought-tolerant yard, or get a condo with a balcony or roof deck.  Outdoor space is work!

Winner for this round: Consider your lifestyle

Location

If you’re debating between a condo or a house you’re probably also debating between being in a premier neighborhood or venturing further out to get that yard and those free-standing walls. This really comes down to personal preference. My true feeling is that a commute over 45 min is hellish and I would sooner live in a condo in my 45 min range than I would move further from my office. But not everyone is me! I have tons of clients who opt for the burbs and get an Audible subscription in order to achieve their dream of HOUSE homeownership. 

My best advice here is to locate businesses/activities in the new neighborhood you’re considering and visit them. If you feel like you enjoy those places then I think making the move further to get your house will make you happy. If there are no places you feel that same level of enjoyment in your new neighborhood then stick to the condo in a part of town that energizes you!

Winner for this round: Are you a homebody or out-and-about? 

I’m curious if these questions help you evaluate your home search differently! Let me know!


Work With Stormie

Stormie brings an analytical and quantitative lens to her core real estate markets on the Westside of Los Angeles. Working in a high-profile environment, often with private clientele, has poised Stormie to handle each transaction with discretion, and expert negotiation tactics.

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