Many people assume the difference between a condo and a house is that one has a yard and one typically does not. There is much more to it than just that and it is important to know all of the factors when deciding on which one to buy. Another area people can get confused about is the difference between a townhouse style, coach home style and apartment style. All of these fall under “condominium” as that is a TYPE of ownership. Townhouse, coach and apartment refer to the style of the home.
This is a question that only you can answer but one that some people don’t think about long enough before answering. Really the answer all comes down to your lifestyle, and your wants and needs. If you have a large family and want a yard and space for them to be able to use freely, a condo probably isn’t for you. If you really enjoy your space, privacy, and having absolute control over all the decisions that affect your home, a condo probably isn’t for you. If you live a busy life and like to simplify your living by having virtually no yard work, a condo may be what you’re looking for. If you are looking to down size after owning a large home but don’t want to give up the comforts of a home but without the hassle, a bungalow townhouse style condo may be what you are after. If you are a first time home buyer and owning a house and all that goes with it seems intimidating, a condo is probably a good step to get into the market. You can always move into a house when you and your lifestyle demand it.
In both houses and condominiums there are tons of different styles and options available.
With houses you have detached/standalone homes but you also have duplexes also referred to as half-duplexes (unless you buy both sides of course). You also have manufactured homes which are often on leased land.
Traditionally the Vancouver Island real estate market was primarily driven by houses. Over the last decade or so we see this change. The demand for condos has risen and as a result new condo developments in Victoria and area have been springing up.
There are a variety of different styles of condos each with their own benefits. Apartment style condos are for those who generally need less space and don’t mind the atmosphere of an apartment style living situation. They generally either have underground secure parking or else outdoor parking available to the owners. Coach home is similar to apartment but have their own exterior entrance. Townhouses are geared towards people who need a bit more space and want a bit more privacy. Some of them even come with their own little yards. The next step up is a bungalow style condo which gives people, in most cases, as much room as a home but with less exterior maintenance. This is our best option for empty nesters/downsizers but often the price is a lot higher as well.
Both types of ownership are great investments, but you have to be aware of what types of repairs may be needed in the near future for both types of ownerships. If you are looking at a condo it is important to familiarize yourself with the condo board and how they operate and find out what you as a homeowner are responsible for. As Victoria’s real estate market continues to grow, so does the need for affordable housing and condos in Victoria and area is a great first step.
When you are in the market and don’t know whether you want to move to a condo or a house, here are a few things to consider.
- Private yard
- Maintenance outside is always required
- Not required to ask anyone if you want to paint your outside door or put on a new light or a new mailbox
- No condo fees
- You are responsible for all insurance costs
- You have total control (within the law) of what you can do to your property
- Generally freedom to do what you wish inside (within the law), but outside you normally need permission from the condo board to many any changes or improvements
- Monthly condo fees (make sure to check each building to see what is included in the fees)
- Exterior maintenance including landscaping is usually taken care of by the condo association (from your monthly condo fees)
- Insurance that covers the exterior and the building structure itself are part of your condo fees (but you will need your own personal insurance for the interior and personal affects, much like renters insurance)
- Shared common spaces
Condos can often have restrictions put in place when the condo board was first setup or that have been voted on by everyone in the condo association. Things to watch for are: pet restrictions, age restrictions, do they allow rentals? Other key things to consider when looking at condos are: do they have enough money in the reserve fund to cover maintenance and other issues, how do they pay for major improvements (from reserves from monthly fees or by special assessments which they could assess you for relatively small or large sums of money to put towards major improvements), are there any plans for future improvements.
More and more people are considering condos and as a result there has been a huge rise in the development of condos in the Victoria and Vancouver Island real estate market. It is important though that when deciding to buy a home you determine the type that you want. Feel free to contact me at any time to learn more about the Victoria condo and house market and I would be more than happy to provide additional information on the benefits of both.