When it comes to purchasing property, there are many different routes you can take. With the increasing prices in the Halifax Real Estate Market, and the competitive nature of single-family home purchasing, buyers are considering condos and co-ops now more than ever before. Have you ever wondered what are exactly the differences between owning a condo or co-op as opposed to a single-family home? If so, look no further. Read below to learn the difference!
First, both condos and co-ops are considered Common Interest Subdivisions (CIS), in which individual ownership of a residential unit is combined with the shared ownership of a common area. Let’s look at the differences between the two…
Owning a condo is similar to owning a house. You have a deed and mortgage and pay property taxes, but what you really own is “airspace”, or what is within the four walls of your unit. Exterior walls, floors, and ceilings are owned in common among all residents. You join the condo association of the given building and pay monthly dues to cover management, hazard insurance, maintenance, garbage collection, hallway lighting, contribution to the reserve fund, landscaping and more. Some condo corporations include heat and water costs into their condo fees as a bonus to the residents.
Condo owners usually may remodel only within the guidelines provided by covenants, conditions, and restrictions, which may specify everything from how maintenance is handled to what colour curtains you can hang on your windows. Condo owners are also responsible for what goes on within their individual units, including maintenance and repairs. it's a smart idea to read them before buying a condo. Also, be sure to request recent reports outlining future plans for the complex.
Maintenance is shared with neighbouring condo owners; it is important to remember that your property value depends on the condition and desirability of the entire development.
A co-op is a housing complex owned by a corporation made up of all the residents — you essentially become a shareholder in the corporation that owns the property. The number of shares you are issued depends upon the size of the unit you own. You own shares in the private company that owns the building and by owning those shares you are given exclusive rights to occupy a specific unit in that building. Potential owners are also interviewed by the board. Larger units owners have more power in deciding how the building is run. You also pay fees to cover your portion of the building’s property taxes, mortgage, and the costs of repairs and improvements for the common areas.
Securing financing for co-op and co-ownership units is more difficult than a condo, for the simple reason that your collateral – shares or a portion of the ownership – is not as easy to foreclose on. Co-op owners also depend on each other financially, so expect heavy scrutiny of both your financial history and your personal life if you’re buying.
The main benefit of a co-op is affordability, as it is usually cheaper than a condo. Some people also want to build equity in a home but have no interest in taking on the responsibilities and expenses that come with ownership.
Advantages of Condos and Co-ops
Considering all the options, what are the advantages of buying a condo or co-op? First, prices are typically much lower than for single-family homes, and landscaping and maintenance are minimal or nonexistent. Some residents say they feel safer in a “cluster” environment, while others cite the peace of mind from having a common maintenance service. Some buildings even have luxury amenities such as pools, gyms, libraries, guest suites and more.
Condo and Co-op fees are not tax-deductible, and the dues are considered an ongoing expense that will lower the amount of mortgage you can qualify for. Condos and co-ops also have rules concerning renovations, renting, pets and many other elements that owners must abide by, unlike if you own a single-family home. Rules are typically in place to keep the building appearing cohesive in design, and to keep all owners comfortable, secure and happy.
Condo documents can also be long, complex, and often hard to understand. If you are planning to purchase a condo, having an experienced REALTOR who has sold condos in the past review the condo documents is crucial. Did we mention we have 18+ years in helping buyers purchase condos successfully in Halifax? Our team Lead Andrew Perkins also owns multiple condos in Halifax, lives in a condo himself and sits on his building’s condo board!
The most important thing before considering buying any property is to do your homework. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, you’ll be building equity and get a tax break to boot. Buying into a condo or a co-op can be a great way to get your feet wet in the property-ownership game.
Licensed Real Estate Assistant