Kirsten Conover

Certified Relo Specialist

Pros and Cons of Condo Ownership

Condominium housing is typified by its multi-unit design and its ownership structure. A corporate entity, usually called the condominium corporation, represents the joint ownership of the individual unit owners. In other words, each owner of each townhouse or apartment privately owns his or her unit interior and collectively owns the common elements. The common elements might include the grounds and walkways around the complex, parking lots, recreation facilities, and so on.

Buying a condominium or townhouse requires some thought about your lifestyle and long-term plans. The following pros and cons will help you to think about whether or not a condo is for you.

Pros of Condominium Ownership

  • Convenience. Like apartments, condos require very low maintenance, and are low worry. Because the grounds and common elements are usually maintained by the association, you don’t have to bother with mowing, cleaning, or many other home maintenance chores. You might also have extra facilities such as a pool and tennis courts that are also cared for by the maintenance service. Maintenance and security services also let you come and go with less worry about your home. This is a plus for people who travel a lot or who otherwise have busy lifestyles. And condos are usually in and/or close to the city with quick and easy access to public transportation.
  • Lower costs. Condos ownership means fewer home repairs, repair costs, lower energy costs. Condos fees pay for building management and maintenance
  • Amenities and lifestyle. New condos and lofts have contemporary, attractive finishes and layouts. Usually you can renovate your condo to fit your taste and lifestyle. Open lofts allow owners to create their own unique spaces.
  • Security. Most condo communities provide a feeling of additional security by offering gated and/or garage parking, and secure building entrances. Many also offer private elevators.
  • Affordability: Many condos offer a better match for owners seeking urban locations, convenience and low maintenance combined with modern, top-end amenities. And many offer more interior living space for the money as well. Also, condos offer more choice of smaller units (one-bedroom and two-bedroom) for people who don’t need or want a full-sized house.

Cons of Condominium Ownership

  • Loss of choice and control: The same convenient maintenance services also mean that you lose your choices to landscape, garden, and decide what the outside of your home will look like. Whether or not you like the landscaping, or use the pool and other facilities, you must still pay for them through your monthly condominium fee. Also, if the condominium corporation decides to do major repairs or improvements to the complex, you might have to pay an extra amount of money. And when condo unit owners do not pay their condo fees, it affects the ability of the building to pay its operating expenses and each condo unit owner is adversely affected. Repairs within the unit are still the responsibility of the owner. Finally, condo owners have to comply with community rules and bylaws.
  • Limits on adding space, renovations. You cannot add additional space to your condo unit (unless you purchase a unit beside, above or below your unit). Many complexes forbid interior modifications. Changes made to your unit can affect the overall structure of the building itself. Therefore, if your unit no longer suits your needs, you must usually sell and move
  • Less Appreciation.  Typically (though not always, especially when it comes to unique properties or ultra-hot areas) a condominium may not appreciate as much as a single family home in the same area. In a slow market, condos are usually first to suffer and last to rebound, which means if you have to sell during this time, you may not get the price you want and it may take you longer to sell.  However, you're buying a lifestyle--and the trade-off may be worth it for you.