When it comes to deciding whether or not you want to invest in a condo or a single-family house, there’s a whole lot to mull over. Before stressing about homeowners associations and finding the perfect neighborhoods we decided to speak to Realtor Nancy Guerriero, who offered a wealth of sound advice.
“The biggest positive you have with a condo is the ability to lock and leave — go out with friends, travel, it’s so much easier than a house that needs to be watched over and maintained,” Guerriero says, “But at the same time you need to think about the neighborhood.”
She explains that there’s a basic checklist that most homebuyers go over before purchasing: What’s the school system like? Are there parks? Where’s the nearest shopping center? Grocery store? All of these components are essential, and as vital as exploring a condo’s homeowners association (HOA).
“The biggest issue is the governing power of the building, or HOA,” Guerriero emphasizes. “If you don’t have a good one, it’s bad news.”
If your heart is set on a condo, do yourself a favor and knock on your potential neighbors’ doors. Ask what the HOA is like. How quick are they to do repairs? How much have the fees increased from year-to-year? What do the fees include? Are there any big repairs scheduled or planned for the property? Ask your Realtor to see if there have been complaints or lawsuits, too.
In terms of condos versus single-family homes, Guerriero says that “good dirt will always cost more than air.”
In other words, if you have a budget of $100,000 you might have to live farther away from the urban core to get a single-family home you like — the resale value, if it’s in a booming area, will be great. But, if you’re looking for convenience, your money might be better spent on a condo closer to downtown.
No matter what, Guerriero stresses that “you need to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.” Ask about what is included in your HOA fees — does it include water, electricity, and gas? Then compare that to a single-family home — you will often find the utility fees will be more expensive.
As far as investment is concerned, following big box retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and purchasing land in developing areas is always a good idea. Guerriero explains that commercial retailers spend years studying a city’s demographic, or “the way the city crawls and the way the city moves.” Look at the land around the more-developed downtown Midland, which is increasing in price because the area has become more saturated with convenient amenities, including retail and restaurants.
No matter how you spend your money on a first home, you must remember to find a good and honest lender to help with the loan. Equally as essential is using an inspector and Realtor that cares about your referral — you want your Realtor to sit down with you to explain everything you might not understand.
When it comes down to buying a home or a condo, do your research, determine what exactly you’re looking for, find a high-rated Realtor and lender, and start crunching the numbers. Due diligence is key!
What did you choose for your home purchase? A single-family home or a condo?