House vs Condominium - Which Suits You Best?

One of the biggest questions facing home buyers today, whether you're a first-time home buyer or a veteran of the home buying process, is whether to purchase a condominium or a house. Both condominium and single-family house living offer a wide array of benefits that suit different lifestyles, families and personal situations. As a prospective home buyer, you must decide which best suits you.

A single-family house is a stand-alone property with its own home and yard. When you own a house, you are responsible for all exterior maintenance of your home. This includes upkeep of your yard, shoveling sidewalks and maintaining your roof, windows, siding, driveway and every other aspect of your property. You must also consider the cost of equipment that will be required for this maintenance such as a lawnmower. The benefit, of course, is that you do have your own yard to enjoy with privacy from your neighbours. As well, you are free to make changes and renovate your home and yard as you see fit, you are not governed by bylaws of an association. If you are a family looking for space for your children to run and play, a house is probably a better fit for you than a condominium.

A condominium is a townhouse complex or apartment-style building with a varying number of units. When you own a condominium you are responsible to pay condominium fees into the condo association along with every other owner in the community. These fees are used for maintenance of the common areas of the building, including the lobby and hallways as well as yard work and snow removal. Typically, your water, sewage and trash removal are included in these fees as well. They are also used for maintenance of the exterior of your home or of the building. This means if there is an issue with your windows, roof or siding; the condominium association will be responsible to remedy these issues. A certain percentage of the fees are also allotted into a reserve fund held by the association, this fund is used to cover any major costs that may arise. If you are a working professional with no time to commit to the maintenance of your home or just enjoy the idea of a low maintenance style of living, a condominium might be a perfect fit for you.

There are other aspects of condominium living that must be considered as well. You will live in very close proximity to most of your neighbours and if you have a yard it will be very small. At the same time though, many associations have a very active planning committee who organize events, such as pot lucks, BBQs and game nights which can lead to a great sense of community. As well, some buildings have shared amenities like a pool, sauna, game room, hot tub or fitness centre. Buildings with more expensive amenities like a pool will have higher fees, as the maintenance of the pool will be paid for through these fees.

Monthly fees vary by building and townhouse community, be sure to account for their cost when deciding how expensive of a house you can afford to purchase. Condominiums are also governed by bylaws as determined by their association, some don't allow pets or rentals. Be sure to check with your Realtor for all bylaws and fees before deciding to purchase a specific unit.

If you are looking for more information about buying a house or condominium in Saskatoon or want to discuss your real estate needs, feel free to contact us any time.

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