House or Condo? A Lifestyle Choice

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When it’s time for a first home, next home, or forever home, one of the questions many buyers struggle with is whether they want to buy a house or a condominium. This choice is easier to make when you have an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each. What it comes down to is a lifestyle choice, and it’s pretty important you consider the options and make the right choice for you. Winnipeg has a terrific blend of housing options through a broad range of prices and amenities.

RESTRICTIONS & LIMITATIONS

Owning your own home is very rewarding both emotionally and, historically, financially. Houses give you a sense of your own space, generally include some amount of yard to enjoy your own private outdoors, and generally come with far fewer limitations on what you can do and how you can use it.

In many areas, the only limitations on what you can do with your house are building/zoning code requirements. If you fancy a vibrant purple house with yellow trim, nobody can hold you back (though you might find yourself having some awkward conversations with your neighbours). Some communities do have “restrictive covenants” that put certain limitations on the property like size and style of fencing, exterior colours, landscaping limitations, and other requirements for homeowners. But that aside, it’s still generally less restrictive than you’ll find in most condo developments.

Every condo development will have a set of bylaws that lay out what owners can and cannot do with their property. Often times these bylaws put limitations on any changes to the exterior, when work can and cannot be done, whether an owner can have pets, whether smoking is permitted or not and where, whether the unit can be rented out and, if so, whether a deposit is required to do so.

Some people find these limitations to be too restrictive, while others appreciate these rules because they can help make for good neighbours. How you feel about these differences between a house and a condo is very personal and something you should consider closely before deciding which is best for you.

CARE & MAINTENANCE

However, while owning a house can be less restrictive, it also often means more work to care and maintain. Enjoying that large back yard means having to cut the grass, trim the hedges, replace the shingles from time to time, and a host of other home maintenance tasks that every house owner must inevitably face. If you’re single, travel for work or recreation, or in any case are likely to be away from home for medium to long stretches it can be challenging to ensure your property is maintained, grass is cut or walkways shoveled, and mail is retrieved. Sure, you can hire any out any and all of these services but that comes at a price.

When you own a condo, much of the regular maintenance is handled by the condo corporation. However it’s important to be clear before buying what is handled by the condo corporation or property manager, and what is handled by the individual owners. Will the walks be shovelled for you? Who pays when windows need to be replaced?

BUDGET & PRICE

Another factor to consider is price. All things being equal, houses tend to cost more per square foot than do condos, but depending on condo fees that spread can be smaller than it first appears. Still, home shoppers will generally find that they get more bang for their buck, whether it be larger, newer, or in a better neighbourhood, when they purchase a condo rather than a single detached house.

If you’re working on a tighter budget and trying to get more for your money, a condo may be a good place to start. While there are plenty of luxury condos at high prices, there are also many entry-level priced condos ideal for the budget-conscious buyer.

Whether you decide to purchase a house or a condo, there are lots of things to know that will help you make a smart choice. Your REALTOR® can help you know what you need to know to make a wise decision.