Have you been thinking about buying a condo? The number of condo markets in Houston has grown considerably over the past several years. Condos are a very popular type of housing in certain areas of Houston, such as Downtown, Midtown, and the Galleria, and a growing segment in Montrose and the Heights. Condo living can be a great choice for many people. It can provide a secure, easy to maintain option for Houstonians that are on the go. Before you get started with your condo search, here’s what you need to know about condo life in order to make an informed decision.
What is a condo?
First of all, let’s define what a condo actually is. In some ways, condos are like apartments. They are both homes within a larger community, except in the case of condos you actually own the home as a private residence. In most condos, you share amenities with your neighbors, such as a pool, fitness center, and the grounds. And unlike apartments, in a condo, you pay monthly fees to maintain these amenities.
Benefits of owning a condo
Like anything in life, owning a condo has its pros and cons. Here are some of the benefits you can expect when you live in a condo:
- Less maintenance – When you own a condo, someone else handles the maintenance. This can include taking care of the lawn, removing snow, and making repairs in community spaces. Be aware, however, that you will be responsible for repairs inside your own home in most cases.
- Amenities – Owning a condo often means having access to amenities that you may not be able to afford in a single-family home. Some popular amenities you might find in Midtown, Downtown or the Galleria include pools, gyms, media rooms, or party rooms. Many condo communities also offer classes and social clubs as well.
- Security – Condo communities often offer extra security you wouldn’t get in a single-family home, such as a gated entrance and on-site security staff. It can also be reassuring to know that there are many people close by in case of an emergency.
- Location – Condos are often built in prime locations, like Downtown Houston or the Galleria, close to public transportation, restaurants, bars, shopping, and cultural attractions.
- Affordability – Some times condos can be more affordable (i.e. lower sales price) than single-family homes or townhomes. However, they do have additional costs to consider, which will cover shortly.
Disadvantages of owning a condo
While there are many upsides of living the condo life, there are also downsides to consider. These include:
- Lack of privacy – If you are someone who enjoys privacy, then condo living may not be for you. Because of the shared living spaces and close proximity of neighbors, you will often be interacting with other people.
- Fees – One of the reasons condos can be lower in price is that condo buyers also need factor in the monthly maintenance fees. These fees cover the operation of the building, which can include mundane things like garbage pick up and more luxurious amenities like doormen or housekeeping. Maintenance fees can range in cost between $500 and $1500 per month.
- Rules – If you like to do things your own way, then you may not enjoy living in a condo. When you live in a condo community, you are required to follow certain rules and regulations. If you want to make upgrades to your condo, you will likely need permission from the HOA. There may also be restrictions on the number and size of pets you can own as well as how many guests you may have.
- Slower appreciation – Finally, if you think of your Houston condo as an investment, be aware that condos are often slower to gain in value than single-family homes.