July 26, 2012

Condo or a House? Tough Question For Some

What are you in the market for? A House or Condo. Specifically for first time buyers, this can be a hard question because each choice has its advantages and disadvantages. To help you establish what’s best for you, laid out some ‘average’ happy condominium and happy home owner. Although the circumstances I put together are derived on an average, I hope they will help you determine on the option best for you.

James is looking at buying a condominium

James is a on the go professional who has been renting an condominium for a couple of years after moving out of the nest. Many of his friends still rent, but some have gotten into lasting relationships which led to bigger condominiums and even homeownership for them. Now most of his comrades are moving on, his home is feeling restrictive and boring. What James is looking for is the chance to have more room, decorate, acquire new furniture for something that is his own. Cutting back on travelling for usual trips such as shopping, going out, visiting is imperative to James as he works long hours. James doesn’t have any hobbies that require a lot of scope – in fact, he really doesn’t want a very massive space that he has to spend time and money caring for. Somewhere to put clothes and a large wall for his TV are his needs. He adores clean lines and new fixtures. Tending to an outdoor area is not something he wants to do.

A low maintenance, all included home with a maintenance person to call on is another condition. James gets on well with other people but he’s not all about building lifelong bonds with his neighbours; he’s fine keeping to himself. He’s affable and doesn’t mind some racket now and then – it’s part of existence. But he draws the line at personal safety – that’s why he really likes knowing that the condominium building he’s considering is patrolled and monitored 24 hours a day. Fitness is imperative and a condominium that has included facilities of a gym and/or pool would be an added reward. Looking to the years ahead, a parking space would add investment value to the property. He needs to consider the years ahead as there is always a time when someone moves on. Who knows what the years ahead holds? Condo life is the reasonable conclusion for a person at this level in their lives.

Jenny wishes to live a house

Jenny likes her personal space. From the her time in college, she still remembers how it felt having only a single wall between her and her neighbours, and doesn’t want any of this anymore. Jenny only wants to have her privacy and enough space, and she doesn’t mind having to spend a bit more time for travelling to work. Also shopping has to be done weekly, but it is no problem for her to take her MiniVan to the supermarket and load it up. Nothing means more to Jenny than her two children, and she wants them to be able to play around the yard like she did when she was a child. Jenny and her family also live in a neighbourhood where they know the other families around which is really useful, because there is always someone at hand to give advice about the best babysitters, school sports or the new off-leash park. And though Jenny and her husband Harvey haven’t really thought about expanding their family, it’s just an option that in the future they might have another baby, or maybe Harvey’s mother might need to move in with them later in life. Thus having enough space for the possible family expansion is a must for them.

Also the family members have different hobbies – Harvey works on his vintage car in the garage and their daughter Morgan plays the drums, which would be impossible to do in an apartment – it is loud enough in the basement, so Jenny is thinking about getting it soundproofed and building in a bathroom, then they would have a perfect teen retreat. During the weekends, Jenny’s hobby is tooling around in her garden, which she really loves and is proud of – nothing compares to picking fresh vegetables for a salad while Harvey prepares stuff for a barbecue. The fact that she owns the land they live on is super important: even if the roof leaks, like it did last year after all those storms, it’s still Susie’s roof and she had cash set aside for repairs. Occasional house repairs just come with the territory. Jenny and Harvey have divided all the maintenance tasks up and each of them knows what his/her responsibility is – for Harvey, it’s cutting the grass, whereas Jenny prepares the recycling for Harvey to take out to the curb. They just don’t mind this work, it’s a part of their life. As for security, Jenny’s confident that the new system they just installed will keep the burglars out, plus there’s a residents’ association to keep an eye on stuff. In this safe area, she is just satisfied and wants to put down her “forever” roots.

Which profile resonated with you the most – James story or Jenny’s story? Maybe you don’t completely match either one – in which case, you may enjoy the benefits of living in a condo town house, which can combine a lot of the advantages of both condos and houses.

If you ascertained that a condominium could be a better fit, never let the monthly condominium fees, combined with property taxes, mortgage and insurance, go above 30% of your monthly income. Find our whether building damages are covered in your fees or whether you have to make extra or one off payments. What is made available in your fees? If there are extra facilities included do you really require them? Make sure your proposed building is pet-friendly if that is an concern for you, and find out the approximated utility costs for anything not covered in the condominium fees (i.e. heat, water and/or gas). Extra bills could enlarge your monthly expenses acutely if they are not included in your fees.

If you decide to go for a house, my advice is that you shouldn’t pay more than 25 per cent of your monthly income for the mortgage plus the property taxes. Just remeber, you will be responsible for all the maintenance  and up keep of house. Consider the cost of maintenance and your own ability to keep up with the repairs – the fact that the responsibility for everything, from a leaky faucet to a flooded basement, will stay with you. Also the financial and physical costs of commuting is important to be considered, as it will probably grow, especially if your new house is in a suburb. Make sure that you examine a recent home inspection to prevent any surprise problems with the home’s mechanical systems, from wreaking havoc with your budget. For example, a fixer-upper with an ancient furnace, old wiring and insufficient insulation will demand a more or less immediate cash infusion just to make the house livable.

If you have any questions, please call me

9am - 7pm, 7 days

Dante Walker - Posh Realty
(323) 642-7674. I'm here to help you!

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