What is condo living?
Is Condo a style, a type of ownership, a way of life? What
do I own? What is included with the maintenance fee? Do some
condos come without maintenance fees? What about townhouses;
are townhouses different from condos? These and many more
questions are constantly asked about condos and townhouses.
I will try to shed some light on this subject.
What is a Condo?
A condo is a home style and a type of ownership. A condo
style is referred to as a “Ranch” style of living;
all rooms are on one floor. Condos can be found in
high-rises, midrise, attached row housing, garden
apartments, detached housing, or stand-alone houses. A
townhouse can also be a condo. A townhouse is an
architectural style meaning multiple levels. A townhouse may
be a condo type of ownership or not. Merriam-Webster Online
defines a townhouse as “a usually single-family house of
two or sometimes three stories that are usually connected to
a similar house by common sidewall”. However, I have
seen townhouses only attached by an outside deck.
A usual subdivision may have upwards of hundreds of units.
These subdivisions may have many amenities for the
residents. Some of the amenities could be a swimming pool, a
clubhouse, exercise rooms, meeting rooms, play areas, and
more. But there are many condo complexes that have no
amenities and some with only a few amenities.
All condo complexes will have common areas for use by ALL
residents, even if it is just the parking areas or hallways.
A condo community usually has a management association that
is responsible for general repairs and maintenance of the
common areas. Generally, all exterior repairs are the
responsibility of the management association. Snow removal
is also the responsibility of the association. However, it
should be noted that there are a number of definitions of
snow removal. The association would more than likely be
responsible for the roadways. But some associations will
shovel the general walkways, steps, and driveways to each
condo unit. Other associations leave the sidewalks, steps,
and driveways to the condo unit residents. Each condo unit
is required to pay a monthly condo fee to cover all the
association’s costs and to maintain a reserve for unexpected
Some condos don’t pay any fees. These are usually small
condo complexes or duplex homes. In these cases, the
residents get together to share expenses.
Ownership of a condo unit means that the interior, usually
from the walls to the center of the room, is the
responsibility of the homeowner.
Advantages of Condominium Living
You are not responsible for outside maintenance. Your
lawn will always be trimmed.
You can enjoy many amenities without worrying about
cost or upkeep.
Transportation is usually close by.
Some condo communities are gated, giving the
residents a greater sense of security.
Disadvantages of Condominium Living
You have to pay taxes and association fees.
You have to share all common areas.
The outside land is owned by the association and
available to ALL condominium residents. You don’t have the
privacy as in single-family homes.
Some associations allow pets and some do not. Some
associations only allow small pets. Some allow only cats and
Some condominium communities are adult communities
with age restrictions.
Condominium association’s rules and fees can change.
When considering a condo ownership, you should know the
financials of the association and the association’s rules.
Do not rely on your Realtor, or anyone else, since the
finances and rules are subject to change.