House shopping can be overwhelming to tackle on your own, whether you’re dreaming of a single-family house or a unit in a condo. As your financial partner, we’re here to break it down and help you decide what space fits your lifestyle best. And most importantly, your wallet. Things to consider:
» Your lifestyle
» Desired location
» Taxes and Insurance
» Price and Mortgage
» Associated Monthly
Houses usually have more space, making it easier to accommodate more people if the size of your family expands. With generally speaking more houses on the market than condos, you can often get a better price on a house, as long as you aren’t tied to living in a particularly popular area. If you enjoy having a large lawn all to yourself, a house can give you lots of green space, fresh air and privacy. When you own the entire structure – as with a house – you have the freedom to make any changes you want.
Completing repairs and maintenance for a home – even a newer one – can be very expensive and time-consuming. Do you find it reassuring to have neighbors just a door or two away in case of an emergency? If so, a house may not offer this kind of support. Since they tend to have more square footage, your utility bills could be significantly higher in a house. If you are moving to a new area, a house may not provide as many opportunities for meeting new people as a condo would.
While condo shopping, you may find that you are able to find units centrally located in a town or city that costs much less than a house in the same area. If you’d rather leave the yard work and major upkeep projects to someone else, a condo could relieve you of that burden. Condos often provide very easy access to amenities like a pool, workout area, etc. You may feel safer in a condo with 24-hour security.
Because you are living in a structure with other people nearby, you may have to deal with neighbors who have different lifestyles than you. In most condos, you will share decisions on the future of the building with the other tenants. Condo fees can be very expensive and may include charges for services you don’t necessarily use or want. If others in the building aren’t able to keep up on their fee payments, you may have to make up the difference. In addition to condo fees, you may need to pay for a parking space.
There is no pat answer for whether a condo or a house is better. It all comes down to your situation and preferences. It can help to make a list of the above factors and rank them for importance in your decision-making. This will make it easier to decide what kind of home will be a sweet home for you.
So the next question is, how much house can you afford? Fannie Mae recommends that you spend no more than 28 percent of your income on housing. If you push past 30 percent, you become at risk for being house poor, which no one wants.
The first year of homeownership is often the most challenging. Our partners at BALANCE offer pre-purchase counseling to help you prepare for the added expenses and responsibilities of owning a home, so you know what to expect, and where to turn for help.