What is condo living? Is Condo a style, a type of ownership, a way of life? What do I own? What is included with the maintenance fee? Do some condos come without maintenance fees? What about townhouses; are townhouses different from condos? These and many more questions are constantly asked about condos and townhouses. I will try to shed some light on this subject.
What is a Condo?
A condo is a home style and a type of ownership. A condo style is referred to as a “Ranch” style of living; all rooms are on one floor. Condos can be found in highrises, midrises, attached row housing, garden apartments, detached housing, or stand-alone houses. A townhouse can also be a condo. A townhouse is an architectural style meaning multiple levels. A townhouse may be a condo type of ownership or not. Merriam-Webster Online defines a townhouse as “a usually single-family house of two or sometimes three stories that are usually connected to a similar house by common sidewall”. However, I have seen townhouses only attached by an outside deck.
A usual subdivision may have upwards of hundreds of units. These subdivisions may have many amenities for the residents. Some of the amenities could be a swimming pool, a clubhouse, exercise rooms, meeting rooms, play areas, and more. But there are many condo complexes that have no amenities and some with only a few amenities.
All condo complexes will have common areas for use by ALL residents, even if it is just the parking areas or hallways.
A condo community usually has a management association that is responsible for general repairs and maintenance of the common areas. Generally, all exterior repairs are the responsibility of the management association. Snow removal is also the responsibility of the association. However, it should be noted that there are a number of definitions of snow removal. The association would more than likely be responsible for the roadways. But some associations will shovel the general walkways, steps, and driveways to each condo unit. Other associations leave the sidewalks, steps, and driveways to the condo unit residents. Each condo unit is required to pay a monthly condo fee to cover all the association’s costs and to maintain a reserve for unexpected costs.
Some condos don’t pay any fees. These are usually small condo complexes or duplex homes. In these cases, the residents get together to share expenses.
Ownership of a condo unit means that the interior, usually from the walls to the center of the room, is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Advantages of Condominium Living
You are not responsible for outside maintenance. Your lawn will always be trimmed.
You can enjoy many amenities without worrying about cost or upkeep.
Transportation is usually close by.
Some condo communities are gated, giving the residents a greater sense of security.
Disadvantages of Condominium Living
You have to pay taxes and association fees.
You have to share all common areas.
The outside land is owned by the association and available to ALL condominium residents. You don’t have the privacy as with single-family homes.
Some associations allow pets and some do not. Some associations only allow small pets. Some allow only cats and no dogs.
Some condominium communities are adult communities with age restrictions.
Condominium association’s rules and fees can change.
When considering a condo ownership, you should know the financials of the association and the association’s rules. Do not rely on your Realtor, or anyone else, since the finances and rules are subject to change.