Buying a home could mean buying a house, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. It could also mean buying a condo. What is the difference between a condo and a house? Which option is the better fit for your housing needs?
What Is the Difference Between a Condo and a House?
While people often think they have a sense of what various housing options are, attempts to actually describe them with any accuracy tend to lead to stumbles. Before you start your house-hunting, it’s a good idea to make sure that you know what you’re looking for. In this case, that means learning the definitions that the housing industry uses to identify condos and houses. Comparing how these forms of housing stack up can also be helpful.
What Makes a Condo a Condo?
As Homelight explains, a condo, or condominium, is a privately owned unit that exists within a multi-unit property. In terms of physical structure, most condos resemble apartments with walls that are shared with at least one or two other units. Each unit is owned by an individual, and the owners share common areas and amenities with their neighbors. While the condo owner is responsible for the care and maintenance of their own unit, a homeowners association (HOA) is tasked with managing the rest of the building, including the common areas, the building’s exterior, and its features.
What Makes a House a House?
Houses come in all shapes and sizes and are somewhat easier to define. As Dave Ramsey notes, in the world of real estate, a house is a free-standing residence. Notably, it’s four outer walls are free of attachments to any other residential structures. In fact, a house is generally situated on a lot of land that is also owned by the homeowner and surrounded by some sort of yard.
The Differences Between Condos and Houses
What is the difference between a condo and a house? Realtor.com offers a handy breakdown:
- Purchase Price: Condos are generally more affordable than houses. That makes them a useful option for someone looking for a starter home or anyone who wants to live in a particularly pricy area.
- Location: Condos tend to be found in urban areas. Single-family houses are generally located in neighborhoods and communities outside of the heart of the city. The length and complexity of the commute will depend on the size of the city.
- Freedom: If you want to own a condo, you’re going to have to deal with an HOA, and because condos have a large amount of shared space, the HOAs that run them often have immense powers. As a result, condos tend to be highly regulated. In contrast, homebuyers have a choice. They can buy a house that is subject to an HOA or choose one that isn’t. Either way, the HOAs that govern communities of single-family houses are typically less restrictive. The bottom line is that people who own houses tend to have much more freedom when it comes to what they can do with and on their property.
- Privacy: With condos, units often share walls. That kind of proximity makes true privacy hard to come by. Because houses often offer greater separation from neighbors, they’re generally more suitable for people who prioritize privacy.
- Maintenance: Condos are touted as being low-maintenance because the HOA is normally responsible for the maintenance of everything outside the walls of the unit. The homeowner only needs to deal with servicing or repairing items and systems within the unit. With a house, the full responsibility for everything falls on the homeowner.
Which Is Better?
Which is better? As Interest.com points out, that depends on what your idea of the ideal home is. If you’re eager to live downtown, crave affordable access to shared amenities, and like the thought of a low-maintenance lifestyle, a condo might be just right. However, if you want your own space and the freedom to customize it, even if that means accepting more responsibility, then you should probably focus your search on houses.
PrimeLending Twin Cities can help you reach your housing goals. Our loan experts would be happy to teach you about home loan programs and help you identify the best option for your unique needs. How can we help you? Contact us today to find out.