Woman reading in chair in front of window, looking happy due to buying a condo.

How to decide if buying a condo is right for you

Weigh the pros and cons before you make the big decision.

Thinking about buying a condo? It's important to know what you might be getting into. Here are some things to help you decide if condo living is right for you.

What is a condominium?

When you buy a condo, you own an individual unit within a shared complex. Unlike an apartment, you have the freedom to renovate and customize your space. But, you typically have to share a wall or two, which gives you less privacy than a single-family home. Buying a condo means you agree to be a member of the homeowners' association (HOA) and must follow their rules and pay any required HOA fees.

Pros and cons of buying a condo

Consider all the options before you decide.

Pros of condo living

  • Low or no outdoor maintenance ― Typically, you don't need to worry about things like lawn mowing, cleaning gutters or landscaping.
  • Location ― When compared to single-family homes, condo units are often in the middle of the action and close to dining and entertainment.
  • Lower cost ― Condos could be more affordable than other homes in the same area.
  • Amenities ― Every condo building offers different amenities (some charge extra fees), but some common amenities that you could enjoy are a gym, pool, parking garage, community rooms, rooftop terrace or pet area.
  • Good neighbors ― Nearby neighbors and shared common spaces make it easy to meet new people and create a sense of community.

Cons of condo living

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  • Interest rates ― Condo mortgages may be higher than single-family home or townhomes, in part due to the added risk of being part of a shared complex. Loan requirements may be stricter with a condo than a home since you and the condo association must meet certain eligibility guidelines.
  • Fees ― In most condo buildings, there's a required HOA fee that covers things like insurance, maintenance in common areas, outdoor maintenance or upkeep on amenities.
  • Lack of privacy ― Your neighbors are in close proximity, and you'll likely share walls and common spaces, so be prepared for less privacy than a single-family home.
  • Slower appreciation ― Condos tend to appreciate at a slower rate than single-family homes.
  • Rules ― Condo associations have all kinds of rules, like quiet hours, pet policies and lawn ornaments, so make sure all of the rules fit your lifestyle.

What is a special assessment?

A special assessment is typically a large fee charged to cover a big project within a condo community, like a structural repair to the building or roof replacement. If you're buying a condo, it's really important to know if a special assessment is in the future plans. If it is, there's a chance the association fees could go up for a period of time to cover that cost.

What questions should I ask when buying a condo?

If you decide to look at condos, make sure to ask questions to help you decide if condo living is right for you.

  • Are there HOA or condo association fees? If so, how much are they and when are they due?
  • What do the fees cover? Mowing, landscaping, parking, trash, water, etc.
  • How old is the condo building?
  • What amenities are offered?
  • Where can I find the association rules?
  • How many units are in the building?
  • How many units are owner occupied?
  • How many parking spots are assigned to each unit?
  • Is there extra storage available?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What type of outdoor maintenance (windows/doors) is typically done for each condo?
  • How are special assessments handled?

Whenever you're ready to take the next step and buy a condo, be sure you're protected with condo insurance. Here's a list to help you know what's covered.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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