Should Your First Home Be a Condo or a House?

Should Your First Home Be a Condo or a House?

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Many first time home buyers can’t decide if they should purchase a condo or a single-family house. There are pros and cons with both types of homes so it depends on your lifestyle and needs. The buying process for both condos and houses is about the same.

Cost and Advantages of Owning a CondoBuy a Condo or A House?

Average price for a Condo in Massachusetts*: $290,905

The benefit of owning a condo is that it’s a convenient, low maintenance option. Most condo associations take care of basic upkeep such as plowing and mowing the lawns. Condos often have as much space as a house but without the maintenance required of a single-family house. Many condos have access to pools and fitness centers, 24 hour security and are conveniently located near shopping and highways. People who travel a lot like condo living since you can leave your property for extended periods of time without having to worry about security or upkeep.

Condos, on average, are worth less than single family houses. If you’re thinking of buying a condo just because of the lower price, remember there are monthly condo fees you’ll have to pay. The fee amount is usually based on the square footage of the unit, so larger units pay more per month in condo fees. Condo associations can also charge members special assessment fees in order to complete large projects or repairs. And because the condo association depends on fees from all members of the community, when one member falls behind in fees the other members have to pay more to make up for the loss.

Cost and Advantages of Owning a Single-Family HouseBuy a Condo or a House?

Average price for a Single-Family House in Massachusetts*: $419,114

The price of a house on average is more than a condo since you will also own the land associated with the property. Basic maintenance and repairs add to the cost of owning a house. And the utility bills can be higher in houses since they often have more space than condos.

Of course more space is also one of the advantages of owning a house. A house has more indoor and outdoor space which is ideal for people who have—or plan to have— children. And with a house you can change the landscaping, make renovations, or build additions, which are more complicated and not possible with a condo. In a house you don’t share walls with neighbors, which is why privacy is often mentioned as one of the main perks of owning a single family house.

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*Based on January 2014 Home Sales in Massachusetts, The Warren Group.


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