It should come as no surprise that as housing prices across Canada continue to rise, developers and home buyers alike are looking for more affordable alternatives to single-family homes. Not only are condos an attractive option for young adults, but they are suitable for retirees looking to downsize as well. So, whether you are a first-time buyer or you’re shopping condos for other reasons, what do you need to know before you buy? Surprisingly, despite increasing demand for condos, there are few resources available to help buyers choose the right condo. Let’s take a closer look at the condo market, so you can make the smart choice.
First, let’s discuss some of the benefits of condos other than their relatively affordable price. For many urban professionals, condos are an intelligent choice simply for their location. Condos tend to be right in the centre of cities and municipalities, so access to entertainment, restaurants, and shopping can be better. But even for retirees, many condos feature a multitude of built-in amenities that make them an excellent home. From fitness facilities and swimming pools to in-house security, underground parking, and common spaces (for entertaining), condos today are built to make life more convenient. Moreover, condo maintenance is typically much less hassle than maintaining a home and surrounding yard.
Even though there are many fine benefits to buying condos, many newcomers to the market may not realize that there are often fees associated with condo maintenance – especially since there are shared spaces that need regular attention. So, when you go to the bank to get a sense of the mortgage you can have financed, you should also take into account condo fees which may include homeowner association dues (aka strata fees). Homeowner association dues typically range from $100 to more than $500 per month depending on location and amenities available. As you can see, these fees may have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Condos versus Single-Family Homes
So, what are the main differences between buying condos and single-family homes? First and foremost, condos typically cost a fraction of a single-family home. While condos usually offer less square footage than a detached home, even when you calculate the price-per-square-foot, condos tend to be less expensive. Still, this does not always factor in the cost of the homeowner association dues, which can make your monthly costs even more than those associated with buying a detached home.
So what is the take home message? There are certainly benefits to buying condos as they offer a range of amenities you wouldn’t normally find in a single-family home. In addition, while condos tend to be smaller, you can often enter the real estate market much more easily because of the affordability of this type of property. Still, you should carefully review all the costs associated with condo purchase and determine whether the condo will actually save you money.