The age-old Condo vs. House question has come up a few times with our clients in the last few weeks, so it seems like a good time for a debate. Like most real estate decisions, the differences really come down to Cost, Location and Lifestyle.
Yes condo fees can be expensive, but there are other costs to owning a home that most people don’t think of:
- You can expect your insurance to be $100-150 a month in a house (vs $20-25 in a condo, as the walls, etc are insured by the condo corporation.)
- Water and garbage add another $600-900 a year to a house (and are included in condo fees)
- Higher heating and electrical bills come with older houses too (usually $200-$400 a month for most of our clients), and are often included in condo fees – or at the very least, offset by neighbours
- We usually recommend people budget 3-5% of the cost of the house for maintenance – cleaning eavestroughs, ducts, furnace servicing, plumbers, landscaping costs, etc.
- Even in a fully renovated place, you need to expect the unexpected. Every owner of an old Toronto house has stories to share about unexpected surprises.
- If you don’t buy a fully renovated house then you’ve got bigger renovations to deal with – the fun of replacing electrical, plumbing, roof etc. – and you need to expect your plan to be twice as expensive and take three times as long to complete (sad but true stats)
- Condo fees generally range from $0.50- 0.70 a square foot (depending on what’s included and how old the building is), so a 2 bedroom condo can easily can have condo fees in the $700-900 range
- Condos tend to have some of the best locations in the city – and provide owners with the option of easy commutes to work and play
- It’s generally easier to enter the market via a condo purchase than a house – though houses can still be affordable first-time purchases if you move outside of the core downtown market.
- Condos generally come with amenities – from fully equipped gyms and pools to big screen theatres, party rooms and even bowling alleys. Yes, you’ll pay for these via your condo fees, but if you use them, it may be money well spent.
- Freedom – owning a house means fewer (if any) issues with neighbours; no small-talk in the elevator; no rules and policies about the colour of your curtains or where you park your bike.
- Maintenance of your house will not just cost you money when it comes to maintenance, but time as well. From shovelling your driveway and mowing your lawn, to figuring out how to get rid of the mice who moved into your basement, there’s no doubt that owning a house will take time – and skill.
Choosing to buy a condo or a house is certainly a big decision…of course there is always the townhouse compromise…