Author Topic: Condos, yeah or nay?  (Read 4131 times)

greenmimama

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Condos, yeah or nay?
« on: November 19, 2014, 09:04:31 AM »
We are in the process of selling our home and once we do we are all over the map in what we want next, yesterday I started looking at Condo's, Seems like you can get a fairly nice one for a much smaller price than a SFD, I even checked into the monthly fees and it was $176 it included lawn, snow removal, water, sewer, and trash. That's actually not too bad, and the taxes were only 1000, that seems like a great deal, of course the fees would go up over the years, but so will water, trash and everything else if you were paying for it yourself.

Please tell me your pros and cons about Condo living.

Shared walls are an obvious con, but one was an end unit.

There would be no work space for my husband to work with wood, like he likes to. that might be the single thing that would prevent us from buying one.

FIPurpose

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 09:24:13 AM »
I currently own a condo and like many things, there are nice things about it and not so nice things. You'll just need to weigh it for your situation.

Pros:
Typically cheaper than SFH
Utilities are smaller
Not responsible for outside maintanence

Cons:
Monthly fee
HOA could be irresponsible
Low appreciation

Hannah

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 09:38:17 AM »
Major Nay from me. HOA fees for condos are not like HOA fees for a neighborhood (in that the fees are huge and cover expenses that you might normally save on). Not only that, its really difficult to tell if an HOA is fiscally responsible or not without actually looking at a wide variety of factors.

We moved into a place with an HOA fee of $125, the fee is now up to $270 less than 5 years later. A city condo in Minneapolis can run anywhere from $400 to $900 per month. That's just ridiculous in my opinion.

Unfortunately, your condos value is going to largely be a result of how well the HOA operates, and HOA boards are like work boards only worse.

A condo might also be difficult to sell or to rent out depending on the by laws of the HOA.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2014, 09:52:00 AM »
The true economic advantage to owning a home is that you control the long term capital replacement and maintenance, not a potentially incompetent, possibly corrupt condo board.  For example, instead of paying someone (via HOA fees) overtime (possibly union rates) for snow removal, you shovel it yourself for free or buy a snow blower. 

It also depends on how much square feet we are talking about.  The more square feet you need, the more you should be thinking house, because the more square feet, the more you are going to pay high man hours maintenance via the HOA.

Also, your "out of pocket" is more even with a condo.  With a house, it's next to nothing for several years, then it could be $10,000 for a new whatever...

Louisville

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2014, 09:52:05 AM »
Major Nay from me. HOA fees for condos are not like HOA fees for a neighborhood (in that the fees are huge and cover expenses that you might normally save on). Not only that, its really difficult to tell if an HOA is fiscally responsible or not without actually looking at a wide variety of factors.

We moved into a place with an HOA fee of $125, the fee is now up to $270 less than 5 years later. A city condo in Minneapolis can run anywhere from $400 to $900 per month. That's just ridiculous in my opinion.

Unfortunately, your condos value is going to largely be a result of how well the HOA operates, and HOA boards are like work boards only worse.

A condo might also be difficult to sell or to rent out depending on the by laws of the HOA.
You should find all of this out before you buy. If you can't, don't buy. After you buy, get on the board and/or go to every meeting. Hell, before you buy go to some meetings.
The board of my condo are solid people who have lived there for years. We have a reserve study done every five years. We do preventative maintenance. We put anything major to a vote.
You notice I'm saying "we", not they. If you can't or won't participate fully, then maybe condo life isn't for you. If the audit records, meeting minutes, maintanence history, etc., aren't fully available and transparent before you buy in, I'd have pause. There are good, bad, and middling condo associations. Do your homework.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 10:01:33 AM by Louisville »

Koogie

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 10:17:06 AM »

Nay from here as well.   You might also get familiar with the term "special assessment"     In Toronto they are building dozens and dozens of often poorly built condo towers.   These things are already falling apart and in 5 to 10 years will need massively expensive repairs to the units themselves, the common areas and the towers.

For instance...
http://www.condoinformation.ca/feedback/horror-stories-special-assessments

RunHappy

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2014, 10:22:17 AM »
I loved condo living, especially having all outside maintenance taken care of.  When the roof started to leak, I called the maintenance number and it was taken care of quickly (no extra bill).

Condo fees can be expensive.  It is worth finding out what they cover and what they don't.  Example, when the roof was replaced for the entire unit, it was not covered by the normal monthly condo fee (although it should have been), instead a separate "special assessment" of $100 was applied to everyone's account.  Meaning the monthly condo fee rose by $100 until the bank loan was paid (2 years).

cons are they can be slow to appreciate and harder to sell, but I would absolutely buy another condo.

The Architect

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2014, 10:31:23 AM »
Nay.

Mostly because my condo is still in the red despite buying it years after the housing crash. You also may find you want a yard later on, or you have bad neighbors.

On the plus side though, my experience with the HOA board is not that they are maliciously incompetent, just that they really don't understand the real cost of owning a thing, and they're often started out by the builder with insufficient dues. Condo dues should be in the 200-400/month range to prevent sudden special assessments, and most owners don't understand this. Educating them takes some time and adjustment, but if you can, you can have a nice healthy development with routine planned maintenance happening without assessments.

Get on the board, or at least involved with the board, and make changes if you do buy one though.

MandalayVA

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2014, 10:45:08 AM »
I live in a condo, but if I had to do it over I wouldn't.  You have to chase down a ton of paperwork when you buy, and the guy running the HOA at the time we bought sucked at doing things like returning phone calls.  Our building only contains four units, and it is RARE that we can get together for meetings because everyone has different work hours.  The guy whom we stupidly elected president has a "if I can't see it, it's not important" attitude.  A tree fell on the porch roof during a hurricane the first year we lived there, and since then my husband and I have contacted numerous contractors and gotten estimates for repairs, but no one wants to pull the trigger.  One good thing is that unlike a lot of condos ours has actually gone up in value because it's in a very desirable neighborhood. 

RH

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Re: Condos, yeah or nay?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2014, 11:44:34 AM »
My brother and wife are in a condo and they love it. It's all about the location (walk to lots of things, etc..). They are in a high rise, so all the walls are cement and you don't hear anything. I live in a house and would love to be in something smaller, no maintenance, etc... I'd treat the city as my backyard. You can always pay someone to do a HOA review ($300) as part of your inspection when you buy for piece of mind.