I’m in my “earning years,” and condominium living allows me to focus on my career, something a house does not. Here’s why a condo might be right for you.
If you’re a potential homeowner looking at both houses and condos, allow me to shed some light on the subject as both a realtor and a condo owner. Many prospective buyers are pushed towards condos because of their budgetary constraints. The average price of a house in Toronto broke the $500,000 barrier for the first time ever in February, 2012, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, and the average condo costs far less than the average house. But I’m here to tell you that with the housing market as hot as it is, looking at condos isn’t all that bad.
It’s true that a house, on average, will likely out-appreciate a condo over the next five to 10 years simply because of supply and demand: There are far more condos, and the demand for houses is much higher. Buying a condo means you’ll be leaving some money on the table because a house is almost always a better investment. Having said that, I bought a condo in the summer of 2011. For me, it all comes down to the lifestyle.
I’m 31 years old and I work six or seven days a week, and a condo suits my routine far better than a house would. I’m in my “earning years,” and condominium living allows me to focus on my career, something a house does not.
I don’t have time to rake leaves and shovel snow. I have no interest in doing yard work on weekends when I could be working and generating income, as is necessary in these earning years. And if I do find myself with a day off, well, I’d rather be making a divot on a golf course fairway than re-sodding a pet spot on my front lawn.
I never have to brush snow off the windshield in the winter or let the car warm up in sub-zero temperatures. I don’t want to worry about a leaky-roof or a damp basement. I live in a two-year-old building because I know that it’s structurally sound; the same thing cannot be said for the 80-year-old house I might have bought otherwise. Toronto has some unbelievably gorgeous century-old Victorian homes that I marvel at from afar, but at this point in my life, I’m not looking to take on the hassle.
I don’t have to worry about raccoons in my attic nor do I have to chase squirrels out of the flower beds. The only wildlife I have at the condo are the yahoos two floors up from me who like to party every weekend. Condo living means being partners with other owners, so it’s not without compromise. Owning a home means you answer only to yourself, but it’s still not quite what I’m looking for.
Yes, a house is typically a better investment than a condo, but a house is also a much larger commitment. It costs more to purchase, it costs more to maintain, and the risk of a major expenditure is much higher than with a condo. If you’re not ready for the time and effort that a house requires, take the path of least resistance: Buy a condo.
There are things you can do to insulate yourself from the potential condo bubble years down the road: Buy something unique (large terrace, spectacular view, killer floor plan) in a desirable neighbourhood (up-and-coming or just arrived), or in a newer building (which have lower maintenance fees and won’t go out of style as quickly) that’s close to amenities.
Just because a condo is an easy sell today doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow. If you long for the carefree condo lifestyle, you also risk purchasing an asset that’s tougher to move down the road than a house. Make sure when you buy that you also consider who’ll buy it next time around and how attractive the building, unit, and neighbourhood will be.
David Fleming is a Realtor with Bosley Real Estate in Toronto, and author of the best known real estate website in the city: www.torontorealtyblog.com. A constant thorn in the side of condominium developers, David’s sarcastic, opinionated, outlandish thoughts can be read daily, although for some people, that’s far too often.