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Why I Will (Probably) Never Buy a Condominium

This article was written by in Real Estate and Home. 163 comments.

The “condominium” (or “condo” for short) is generally seen as the missing link between renting an apartment and owning land with a house. Commonly, at least in my experience, a condominium is an apartment building in which the units are individually owned but the common spaces are jointly owned by all individual owners.

There is one primary advantage in owning a condominium unit above renting: your equity an an asset with a possibility of appreciation. There is also one primary advantage above owning a house and land, the probability of finding a comfortable dwelling for a lower price.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.75% APY on an FDIC-insured money market account at CIT Bank.

The disadvantages are numerous:

Lifestyle of dwelling. Living in a condominium is much like living in an apartment building. You are close to your neighbors, and no matter how things appear initially, the walls and ceilings are never as thick and sound-proof as they appear to be initially. If I want to hear the children living downstairs screaming at 3:00 in the morning, I’d prefer to stay in an apartment.

Price won’t increase as much as a single-family house. Even when the real estate market is in an upward trend, beneficial to sellers, the price of condominium units won’t increase as much as the price of houses. There seems to be an endless supply of condominiums. Apartment buildings are often converted to condos when the market is favorable to such a move. Houses, and more importantly the land they sit upon, are much more limited in supply. If you own a condominium you own a certain cubic feet of air within your particular enclosure. You do not own the biggest driver for appreciation, the land.

condominiumsAssociation fees. The common areas in a condominium are owned jointly and are usually governed by a board of directors or another group of representatives. In addition to your mortgage and taxes, you will also be responsible for association fees. These fees ensure there is enough funding to mow the lawn, fix the roof, insure the owners against liability, and advertise unsold units.

Association rules. Rules vary from one condominium to another, but they are designed to keep the appearance of the buildings professional and uniform. This supposedly keeps property values higher. Don’t expect to be able to paint the outside of your unit in a way that reflects your personality. Your landscaping options are limited. In many cases, you won’t even be allowed to erect a small flag on your door frame or window. Some associations don’t allow pets.

While I reserve the right to change my mind, I’d rather skip “Apartment Living Part 2” when it’s time for me to “upgrade” my living situation. My intention is not to insult condo owners, it is only to discover what is best for me.

Photo credit: edkohler

Updated October 15, 2015 and originally published August 18, 2008.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 163 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I could not agree more. I lived in a condo for 3 years (rented from a family member) and while I see the benefits of ownership, it was more of a hassle than it was worth. Problems with loud neighbors? You can’t just call the apartment manager. Having to make “group decisions” on everything related to the building began to grate on me as well.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

I agree, condos are an archaic and risky source of housing, much of the reserves to pay for capital expenditures “evaporate” with each new board. Condo boards can raise assessments off the charts. Most do not have much owner participation or oversight. Fraud of funds, and kick backs are common, and expenses are often padded. A house is good, if you have the funds to maintain it, and the time and energy to keep the property up. I know many complain about too much government, but unfortunately there is also a problem with too little government oversight. Millions of dollars are being stolen from condo owners with no recourse but lengthy and expensive court costs. Even a small condo building in business for countless years will have almost no remaining reserves, dispite no record of expenditures. Most boards are out of control, and in business to gain funds for personal use.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Hilarious all these people with the negative condo comments never even lived in one. My condo is on the beautiful Florida Intracoastal waterway with two pools, two clubhouses, a fifty acre nature preserve, tennis courts, boat ramps, and $3 Million in reserves. The maintenance is impeccable they even vacuum the carpet in our entryways. TThe landscaping is gorgeous with man made lakes all over. The HOA fees are 300 per month and that covers all common areas and everything outside on the building, trash, water, television, leaving me to pay electric. It’s a whopping $40.00 per month even in summer in Florida. We have a very active board and residents and pay a professional to manage the office with gated live security guards 24/7. OH and a free bus comes through all day for shopping in other areas of town. LOL get a clue.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

where is this ….I want to move there!!!

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avatar 5 Anonymous

You are lucky you live in a good condo complex. There are complexes that collect fees for services that are not performed. Plowing parking spaces….. sometimes. 48 inches of snow fell AND the walk not cleared for several days. Plowing 3 feet of snow in front of a car, that the person has to dig out their car because the car has to be moved for to clear parking space. Covering up the entrance/exit with plastic while someone is still in the house. Behaving like grammar school kids in deciding who gets treated with respect. It’s like the queen bee and her followers choose who gets the services they paid for. The fees are not standardized. Some pay a lot, some pay less. Board members get special privileges. Owners are not allowed at meetings, except for the annual meeting. Replacement of trees depends on who you are…. board member gets two trees replaced. A unit owner is told trees are too expensive, they get planted flowers. Replacement of sliders…. depends if the board likes you. the temp at my sliders is 29 degrees above zero. The board has never replaced my sliders and yet says all unit have been replaced. Other owners scream at people whose car is stuck in the snow. They offer no help, just watch the person try to move their car. Piling snow in front of a car that belongs to someone over 60 should be illegal. Some cars are plowed around and not snowed in.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

The plow rang the bell and I got dressed and went out. The plow never cleared my parking space which is not unusual. Why tell people to come out when the plow has no intention of plowing.

avatar 7 Anonymous

What is the name of your community. We are currently looking to retire in St. Pete downtown highrise, but not committed. Thanks.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

Would you tell me the name and address of this condo? Thank you

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avatar 9 Anonymous

Yes I want to know where this is so I can move out of this mismanaged mess of a condo I live in. No capital reserves, no rule enforcement, no security, no delinquent collections. It is one major cluster, and I have been told by attorneys it will be a costly and a long legal battle to challenge the board and management company.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

Dear ALYR, I read your post with interest, as I believe your condo experience is rare indeed. My late Mom lived in a Ormond Beach FL condo, and literally fled back to home ownership in her 60’s due to the tyrants who were the “Condo Board”. I have many friends who live in Condos here in the San Francisco Bay Area & their stories are all the same: “The Board Members are petty tyrants”! Thanks but no thanks! That’s why after 36 years of apartment dwelling, I’m purchasing a small home that I can call my very own!

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avatar 11 Anonymous

hello Happy Florida Condo Owner,

My husband and I are from MI. Your condo and amenities
Sound just wonderful. Are you in the Naples area? We are planning
On looking on both coasts and I would love to see if
Anything is available in your association? We are from Michigan
And are not sure about becoming snow bunnies, but right now
It’s very appealing.

Thanks so much for your time.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

where is this place? I want to buy a condo there.

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avatar 13 Anonymous

Car plowed in front by snow upto the hood. Rings bell and then doesn’t plow. Rings bell and sees you cleaning off your car and leaves. Ignores your voice mails. Treat owners as if they are in school yard. Favorites and those they don’t like. Rules for those they like and rules for those they don’t like. They are small minded dictatorial people whose self worth is governed by how they treat people. They did not shovel after 40 inch snowstorm. Little dictators with an attitude of a junior hiigh. Condos are like people, some are nice and some aren’t.

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avatar 14 Anonymous

Hi Alyr,

Would love to know if your condo is located in Tampa?


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avatar 15 Anonymous

Condo v. home purchase a lot of time is a personal/lifestyle choice as much as a financial choice. I think a lot of the reasons why not to by a condo aren’t necessarily disadvantages for all (understanding the caveat, that “you” will likely never purchase).

Not everyone may see being close to neighbors as being a bad thing. When people are not just temporary tenants, you have more of an opportunity to have a “community” than if were an apartment building, and arguably more than a “house with land” as well. Plus you could equally have the chance of having a “fun” neighbor in a house with land–loud, disrespectful of your land, poor upkeep of their property–but without the recourse of an condo association for potential redress.

Generally, yes, condos do no appreciate as fast as single-family houses. But this is also market-dependent. In many higher-value and higher-density areas, condos appreciate just as fast- if not faster- than single family.

Association fees cut both ways. An additional expense, yes, but not one that you don’t necessarily pay as a single-family owner (maintenance and upkeep, etc). For those that may not want to have to worry about the upkeep of a single-family dwelling, a condo could be a could choice.

And while association rules may limit your ability to express your individuality, they also prevent neighbors from doing the same. You won’t see any lawn gnomes or pink houses in a condo building.

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avatar 16 Anonymous

Thanks for your post, Ry1980. I appreciate your pointing out both sides of condo living.

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avatar 17 Anonymous
avatar 18 Anonymous

well said.. and thanx for the time.

the writer of this article seem to dislike the idea of condo by any means. well the phrase “discover whats best for me” says it all.

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avatar 19 Anonymous

Excellent comment and helpful. thanks

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avatar 20 Anonymous

I sold my house because I yearned for an easier life without all the cares of home maintenance. I do not want to care for the outside of a house, including lawn maintenance. When I didn’t do mow the grass myself it was a hassle to find someone with reasonable rates who would stick with it and do a good job. Also, I want to live closer to other people. But three years ago the only condos for a mortgage sale were places I would not want to live. I have been renting an apartment for three years now and am ready to buy. Noise has never been a problem here. Some people are trashy wherever you live but no one targets me like when I owned a home- having kids throw stuff at my house or mess up my car. And that was in a quiet country neighborhood. I had to install motion sensing lights so I wouldn’t have to keep calling the police. I like the city much better. I feel much safer. So now there are many nice places available and banks are doing mortgages again. I am looking for a townhouse or condo because I like this lifestyle. It is also easier to lock up and take a trip or rent your place while you live for the summer or winter elsewhere. For me, there are plenty of advantages. To each his own.

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avatar 21 Anonymous

I worked in real estate for so many years, and time and time again, I saw young couples buy condos without considering the price of the condo association dues. These dues are a HUGE financial suck because they often range from $250-$500 for a nice condo building…a month. No, I’m not kidding. Plus? A board of maybe three people who live in the condo can choose to raise them at any time for any reason without the consent of you, the homeowner. Don’t get trapped in that!

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avatar 22 Anonymous

$250-$500? try $800-$1000+ at least in NY.

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avatar 23 Anonymous

Try $1,000-$2,800+ now in Manhattan..
and it keeps getting worse as of writing this.
Utterly, the most DISGUSTING and lame city in the history of man thought.
$3-5 million is (on average) the price of a 2 br apartment on Park Ave. and you’d be VERY LUCKY if sunlight sneaks into your apartment for 8 minutes a day.

You know what can a $5 million buy you in say Bordeaux Southern France? a 17th Century CASTLE with dungeons (literally, with DUNGEONS, check Christie’s real estate website) with its privé winery and 165 Hectares of land (a backyard that is about the size of Central Park).

New Yorkers think they’re at the center of the world. It’s all but ludicrous ILLUSION. Often than not, a New Yorker doesn’t realize the baboon which he is until he liberates himself from the cocoon and travels abroad, but the fool and his money..

Bottom line? Save your money and buy in your country.

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avatar 24 Anonymous

Condos are a means for developers, land owners and construction companies/unions to fleece the average Joe. I’m always amazed at how some people see condos as great investments… when they are the worst real estate investment you can ever make. Why? Simple, when you own a condo, you own very little land. In most cases, it’s about 10% of what you would own if you bought a similar sized single family home. So the owner of a 1,500 sf condo would only own about 500 sf of land… the owner of the same 1,500 sf of living space under a house would own 10 times that amount in land or about 5,000 sf. But worse, that 500 sf owned by the condo owner is also owned by all the other owners in the building. Yes, you own 500 sf but the other 99 owners in the building have the exact same control over that 500 sf. It’s an outright insult that you only own 500 sf land but having zero control of that land is ridiculous. And to the former poster about why single family homes appreciate faster? Simple, land appreciates – THE BUILDING DEPRECIATES. Yes, this is what people miss. In a condo, the overwhelming value of what you paid for the condo is in the building and its contents. And anything (except unimproved land) depreciates. It will fall apart over time and eventually it needs to be replaced – yes, that includes the building! The life cycle of any concrete building is about 80-100 years. That means that in 80-100 years, 80% of what you paid for your condo will be obliterated. Gone. Poof… the victim of the laws of physics – everything degrades over time. And to go further, everything will eventually become obsolete. So “modern” mid and high rise buildings all have to eventually be demolished. That means all you have left in “value” is 500 sf of land. 80% of your investment is vaporized. And you ask yourself, that is not true, with proper maintenance, a building can last forever. WRONG. No building lasts forever and those that have been around hundreds of years only exist because they are landmarks or have cultural significance. The condo you live in has neither and nobody is pumping donations, city or state funds into that special building to keep it viable in a modern and progressive society. Eventually it will be so technologically obsolete that tearing it down and rebuilding is a better option than the constant upkeep of forever degrading drywall, wood, concrete, plumbing, electrical, elevators, etc etc. Ever see a building demolition? It happens for the exact reasons outlined here – it makes more sense to rebuild than to pump resources and money into a dying horse. People that buy condos are ignorant, blind or just plain stupid. Real estate 101 – THE VALUE OF YOUR INVESTMENT IS IN THE LAND – EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING SITTING ON IT DEPRECIATES END OF STORY. Hopefully all the silly condo owners can digest this and make sense of it. Your building will eventually be worthless (and this is 100% likely to be in your life, or your children’s life or your grandchildren’s life).

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avatar 25 Anonymous

My husband and I feel very stupid we purchased a 1 bed 1 bath 846 square foot condo told it was an age restricted building no rentals well we moved in and shortly learned by hearing that a 6 year old child lives downstairs and that they have every right to be there we complained and complained nobody contacted us and to add to it all she has another baby wile living here they were given a 2 year eviction notice between the person below them and us above them complaining they finally moved out now we just want to sell it it has left us hating where we live. We are very luck y we bought it very cheap apparently a man died of a heart attack inside I wonder why we are going to make a profit that is the only good thing about our situation If you don’t like living very close to people I do not advise buying a condo. I t is horrible people can hear your conversations. when you are taking a shower everything. I hate this place I would never buy another condo!!!!!!!!

avatar 26 Anonymous

I agree with you! I purchased my condo unit (in this development there are 50 plus units and every 3 are attached); 10 years ago. My unit is about 1800 square feet and now it’s worth about $60,000 LESS than what I paid.
I can’t sell or move and considered foreclosing. It sickens me to pay the $260 a month for condo fees. You’re told you own the “bolts in” and everything from the “bolts out” the management company takes care of.
But, when the buck head need painting—-who was responsible? The owners–to buy and paint the buck head leading in to the owner’s basement.
I desperately want to move and purchase a single family home, but I am on stand still and hoping that the price of my home will increase somewhat.
And the stupid rules and regulations are beyond me.

avatar 27 floodedsky

I totally agree with you. I bought a condo 3 months ago in a co-op building. I hate it and can’t wait to sell it, hopefully for the same price I paid for it. What did I learn about condo life? This much…
Seniors are entitled to do whatever they want due to sympathies garnered for their advanced age, and are exempt from all rules and bylaws. Co-op boards are comprised of at least one megalomaniac and/or control freak. Deaf neighbours can’t hear how much noise they are making. Strata and co-op board members need their positions to protect their investment and hide various of their behaviours that are contrary to rules and bylaws. Some of your neighbours may be in the preliminary stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but only you have experienced their odd behaviour. Always have your finger ready on a video or voice recording button.
Did I mention the lies on the contract? Sellers and their realtors always lie. Buyer beware.
Even if your building and condo are nice, nothing can make up for a rotten neighbour and/or corrupt condo board. Such people can and will make your life a living hell.
One year to break even. Five years to make a slight profit. I have to wait. Waiting is suffering.
I will never own another high-rise condo. I’d rather live in a tent or a trailer.
If you are sensitive to noise or annoyed by people who are inconsiderate of others or don’t obey rules, do not buy a condo. The stress will kill you.

avatar 28 Anonymous

I completely agree. I buy a condo belonged to a nice 5 units building which it’s Association Board (there was only 1 woman was holding board president for 10 yeas) had a big debt. When I was closing all papers were clean no debt, no special assessment. Second month after I moved in there was a special assessments bill coming, and then Association management harassed to pursue a law suit with me. The Board president refused to look all my closing documents and Condo Management told me to get a lawyer to deal with him. The Board president and condo management were a pair of nasty, arrogant. Finally I was trying to get myself a lawyer to clean this mess and got out that haunting Condominium as soon as possible.
I was sorry for myself to buy that condo!!! and never,.. never buy a condo again.

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avatar 29 Anonymous

you don’t sound like the brightest bulb to have not asked the question regarding any SAs on the horizon. Unless you bought this condo in the last mid century, you would have had gounds for fraud if they had denied the foreseeable SAs since it happened the month after you closed. Good thing you have pity for yourself, for I have none for you.

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avatar 30 Anonymous

Carol Glassel
In Michigan anyway a condo board is not liable for anything. There is article 59 and the condo bylaws but the catch 22 is there is no government agency to enforce them. You can hire a lawyer but good luck. You pay for your lawyer and the condo board uses condo association funds to pay for theirs.
No need to be rude, her comment said that when she closed the papers showed no debt. In a condo there is no one to sue for fraud but the condo association and in her case it has no money.

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avatar 31 floodedsky

Someone is suffering and you malign them and accuse them of being stupid, as though they were a criminal? What an arrogant, mean person you are. Put the blame where the blame belongs. No scapegoating, please. Sellers, realtors, condo boards… they all lie for their own gain.

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avatar 32 Anonymous

As a realtor I’m sure you helped them factor that cost in. The fees pay for things that they as homeowners would otherwise have to foot the bill for so this isn’t like a surcharge. I am glad I don’t have to paint, fix, mow grass, lay new pipes, trim away tree branches, etc. etc. outside of a condo.

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avatar 33 Anonymous

At my condo the board president decided to trim the white pines, which concealed the buildings behind ours , eight feet off the ground. he cut down 5 Japanese maples in front of the units because he thought they put too many leaves in the gutters. What once was an in-town condo community with nice views now look likes crap. Enjoy having other people do the landscaping but live with the result.
Also in my condo community they have been illegally finishing basements for 20 years without building permits. If there is a fire due to bad wiring, the insurance company does not have to pay. As the buildings are owned in common, every co-owner would be assessed to pay for the damages.

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avatar 34 Anonymous

It depends where you live, the disadvantages you list aren’t universal except for the lifestyle of dwelling one.

Here in NYC if you want to live in the city and not have to commute you don’t exactly have a choice but prices do increase as much or if not more than single family homes because of location.

As for single family homes the disadvantages apply as well. Back in Reno where I grew up all the newer homes are development communities so you’re forced to join the HOA, pay the dues and follow the rules. Not being able to paint outside the unit or hang a small flag is nothing compared to an HOA fining you for not having your front lawn or backyard landscaped to their liking or your car not being expensive enough to be parked in your own driveway.

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avatar 35 Anonymous

Thanks for that info. HOA/condo…. You are now leaving the US… should be at the entrance of every HOA/condo.

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avatar 36 Anonymous

If you own a condo… you basically own a piece of AIR. If you own a house, you actually own land. Land will always be more valuable than air.

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avatar 37 Anonymous

What good is land if you cant breath ;)

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avatar 38 Anonymous

you cannot breathe in “condos” you are forced to open the balcony door, which for many is a window. the window developers in condos built the worst kind that do not allow air to get in.

so your breathing joke is even invalid, for you cannot even breathe fresh air in one.

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avatar 39 Anonymous

my goodness there are such broad statements made on this thread. Not every high rise or mid rise condo’s windows do not open. Please. I can understand not desiring to live in one, but many do not share that opinion and many are happily living in highrises with gorgeous views, opening window or doors to balconies in interesting cities all over the world. And the more interesting the city, the more valuable that speck of ground beneath the condo becomes.

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avatar 40 Anonymous

The government owns “your” land.

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avatar 41 Anonymous

The location of where you buy your property has more to do with it’s ROI than whether or not it’s a condo vs. detached home. For example, in Detroit, you probably wouldn’t want to buy anything. Houses in Phoenix sell for very little, but OTOH, you won’t be paying a lot for them either. They’ll appreciate or go down at best 5% or so.

I don’t like condo fees, but I also don’t like mowing the lawn, shoveling my driveway, paying separate for trash pickup, pest spraying, etc. I lose freedom in expression, but I don’t wanna pay more for a house that’s out of my price range anyways. I’m paying $260/mo. It’s cheaper b/c there isn’t a fitness center (we do have a pool and very small community center), nor elevators (only 3 stories high), so that saves a lot of $$ right there. Just do your research. Sure, prices can go up, but if you want to save more money, you’re better off with something like $300/mo vs. $1200/mo. For a house, you need to spend 1% of the purchase a year to maintain it, so that’s no small amount either.

The association works the other way around too…. there was a pipe leakage, but since it happened well inside the walls, it was their responsibility to fix the damages.

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avatar 42 Anonymous

My condo had a leak. Yes the condo insurance company paid. That did not stop our president from going around telling everyone that there was no money because of the expense of the condo leak at the Glassel condo. The cost was $1500.00 deductible.
For the year the reserve fund went down, Mr. Harvey was crying about no money and then at the yearly meeting , skipping an external audit, for the 6th year in a row was approved by the membership, most of whom probably don’t know what and audit is. I would rather hire my own contractors.
Also the contractors said the leak was due to improperly installed flashing. They observed that all of the units possibly had bad flashing. Did the board let the co-owners know to check for similar leaks in their basements ? No
Also this condo assn., Brandon Chase in Howell Michigan has been illegally finishing basements for 20 years. In fact they will not let you legally finish it. The county and city government has said they can’t do anything abut it but then Howell is a political lay corrupt town where the “elite” take care of each other.

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avatar 43 Anonymous

not all of us live in China.

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avatar 44 Anonymous

For some this is important. I think more like a native American- no one ever actually owns the land. It will be there long after we are dust.

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avatar 45 Anonymous

Yeah, we live in a condo and… none of those really apply. :) But we’re also a special circumstance. We have no HOA, so no dues or community rules (a couple of us got together to pick someone to mow the lawn, but that’s the extent of our organization). We own the land our condo sits on as well as the air above it (important, because our neighborhood’s zoning allows us to build up in the future); our condo is townhouse-style, so no one above or below us. And while we have neighbors on each side, we never hear them – our units are constructed with an air space between each unit to deaden the sound. In 10 months our unit has already appreciated more than our house did after two years by virtue of it’s proximity to downtown and the ability of residents to walk just about anywhere. In the area we wanted to live, we were lucky to get a private garage and not a spot in the basement – if you want a house, you move further out, and your rate of appreciation declines as your commute time increases.

And there are condo perks for us – we’ve met more of our neighbors than we even did in the suburbs. For us personally, we wanted an area of increased population density because resources are being used more efficiently. We didn’t want the maintenance a home requires (our first house had huge HOA dues because they HOA maintained our landscaping and fence). Our utility bills are lower per square foot because the shared walls offer better energy efficiency. We downsized our house by almost 50% because it was important to only use the space we needed and houses don’t seem to come small anymore. And we were able to become a one-car family and only use one 9-gallon tank of gas a month because of our prime location. Different strokes for different folks. :)

The point being – no two properties or regions or situations are alike. Which is also why news stories about a tanking economy and a “buyer’s market” are fairly useless on a national scale.

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avatar 46 Anonymous

Thank you for your refreshing comment. It’s good to know there are areas that would be a good investment. I’ve been thinking about buying a condo for the following reasons.

I have a new job where I will be traveling 20% to 50% of the time. I will be working at home the rest of the time. I thought a condo would be nice because of the community feeling and that I won’t have to do any maintenance. I simply won’t have time to do it with this job and all my other responsibilities. Hopefully, I can find a condo that is nice with low HOA dues. If I don’t find just the right one, I will probably rent. But, I’m not as excited about renting because then I’d be paying for someone else’s mortgage… Am I thinking correctly?

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avatar 47 Anonymous

Fees can rise.Special assessments of over a thousand can be demanded. They can institute new rules. Some places prefer to ;look drab like a prison compound with no color allowed. No plants allowed near the window to get light. No Christmas lights allowed in windows. Be careful before you invest money in condo property. Several have bought during the boom and had to sell at a loss because the property devalued. With low prices now, chances of buying and having the property go lower is probably a factor that won’t happen.

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avatar 48 Anonymous


I’m looking to move and buy a condo in vegas. any chance you can give me your condo name so i would tell my realtor to look for one that has the same set up as yours or is there a unit on sale right now?

Many many thanks!

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avatar 49 Anonymous

In other words – renting that condo for a few months would be better than buying it immediately. Perhaps renting several might be a good way for someone who had only lived in houses to adjust to condo life and see if you liked it.

I’ve lived in townhouses and apartments and duplexes and discovered living in a house is the only way for my family. The townhouse had crazy people on both sides. That eventually attracted the police. They were nasty, hateful people. Fortunately we were only renting. The apartment experience was directly related to the price of rent too. Cramped, out of date, neighborhood starting to slide towards decline. The duplex (overseas even) was the best. Didn’t trust the landlord but otherwise we got what we paid for and had good neighbors to boot. A friend asked me over to look at her new house – a rental. Her landlord is the kind that uses duct tape in place of quality repairs. Sewer gases in the house b/c the plumbing was no properly vented, leaky hot water heater, disposable diaper wrapped around a weeping pipe behind the laundry machine, etc. But it had a new storm door and looked great from the street. -eyes rolling- Perfect storm – renter that doesn’t know diddly about home quality and repairs, and a landlord who avoids doing anything.

We bought a home in a nice neighborhood in a flyover start for less than the price of the HOA fees quoted in the comments. Its needed a few repairs along the way which I have done myself. I maintain the yard myself with the help of our children. 45 minutes and we are done. Good times working together and enjoying something cold (soda, popscicle, etc) afterwards. I choose what gets done and what doesn’t get done – and the quality of the repairs. No listening to the voices on the other side of the walls at night. No police raids. Great neighbors. Plenty of space for kids and critters and I have a home shop in my garage where I can relax while tinkering on this and that.

A home is an expensive place to live if you won’t do some of the maintenance yourself but it sounds alot cheaper than a condo mortgage plus HOA fees. And much cheaper than those two costs plus frequently going out to escape my little concrete and wood condo box where I’d likely go crazy within a few years.

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avatar 50 Anonymous

I had the choice to buy a condo 3 years ago and boy am I glad I didn’t, (partially because my parents told me not to). My house in the depressed Detroit metro area has already lost value, but I’m better off than if I had bought a condo of equivalent square footage, perhaps 8 years newer, and with association fees that I don’t have to worry about. At the time, assocation fees at $200/month would have got me $20K more of mortgage. If I want my house to be maintenance free for me, I can hire sombody to do lawn/garden work for $100 a month, (small yard). My neighborhood is not the nicest, but I have no association looking over my shoulder, I get trees, grass, walls I don’t share, and a two car attached garage. Plus, I’m only a couple of miles from nice a suburban downtown area. I have since moved away for a new job out of town, but my friend is renting my place at least for a year. I don’t know if a condo would have been as easy to rent out either. Lots of condos have stairs galore.

However, given this depressed market and the fact that rents haven’t come down, it might be a decent time to buy a condo as an investment to rent out. It would depend on the association fees and the local economy though.

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avatar 51 Anonymous

I have to chime in here, too. While I personally find it unlikely that SomeGal and I would consider moving into a condo, that does not make them a bad choice for everyone.

First, in our part of the country, many condos are basically duplexes, if not fully detached. Many that are attached are well-designed and only the garages touch the adjoining unit.

As far as the association fee, that cuts both ways. Again in our neck, they are typically $50-200/mo on $200-400K condos, and they cover all exterior maintenance including roof, windows, and exterior walls, in addition to lawn and landscaping care. If somebody offered to cover all that on our current single family home for $150/mo, I would likely take them up in a heartbeat. I wonder if those who rant about dues increases stretched their budget so thin that small increases pose serious budget concerns?

As far as rules go, in many parts of the country nicer subdivisions have similar rules. For example, in our nice but not luxurious subdivision, any exterior modification requires HOA approval. This includes planting vegetation, painting, and lighting. Fences along the property line are also forbidden.

Obvious if one considers a high-rise condo in Manhattan the situation above changes drastically.

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avatar 52 Anonymous

I live in a condo and I love it. The thought of living in some suburban subdivision makes me shudder. Give me a house on a wooded mountain in the middle of nowhere, or give me a condo in the city where I can get to places without needing a car. And since the former wouldn’t allow me to earn a living or visit much with friends, I’ll take the latter.

If you own a house, you need to pay for external maintenance directly. If you own a condo, you do so through condo-fees. In a well-run condo association, the latter will be more cost-effective. (In a poorly run association, that’s the least of your troubles) If you don’t want to hear kids screaming, then don’t get a condo in a building with a lot of kids. My building has just one-bedroom condos in it. Thus, people with kids have no desire to live here.

If you live in a condo, then you can actually be in an area that’s walkable/livable, rather than one where you need a car to get ANYWHERE. I’ve found that the quality-of-life is much higher when you can go about your daily/weekly business without NEEDING a car. Having tasted the car-free life, I absolutely REFUSE to move back to somewhere where it’s necessary, or nearly so, to own a car. So for me, “Lifestyle” goes in favor of condo.

As for condo association rules– these vary greatly. Definitely something that needs to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb before putting in an offer. I love the way the outside of our building looks, so it doesn’t bother me that none of us can do anything to change the outside of the building without a vote. And I can do whatever I like with the inside of the condo (the one caveat being that structural changes need to be approved by an architect to ensure that I’m not knocking out a load-bearing wall or something.) We have a cat.

The appreciates-less thing doesn’t bother me, because I’d rather live in a place I love and have the value rise less than to live in a place I loathe and have the value rise more. Also, I think that walkable areas are going to increase in demand in coming years. Sure, price of gas will probably go down for the short-term at one point, but in the long-term, the price of a finite resource can only keep going up.

Everyone’s MMV, of course. But all this article tells me is that we have very, very different preferences about where and how we want to live, since none of your reasons make a lot of sense to me.

(And if most people would rather live in a house than a condo, then why are the condos in walkable areas priced the same as houses three times their size in non-walkable areas? I can understand wanting to live in a rural area, and I can understand wanting to live in the city, but I’m unable to comprehend the suburbs, and why some people (very few that I know, but there must be some) actually see the suburbs as desirable.

Another plus for condos: the smaller size. Our 1br gives us plenty of room to work, play, and entertain small groups, but is far easier to furnish, clean, heat, cool, etc than a full-size house (or one of those ungodly McMansions– I’ve never met anyone who would WANT to live in one of those things, but whatever floats your boat, I suppose.)

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avatar 53 Anonymous

Just because you pay, doesn’t mean that they will perform maintenance.

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avatar 54 Anonymous

My building has just one-bedroom condos in it. Thus, people with kids have no desire to live here.

ROFLOL just wait!!!!

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avatar 55 Anonymous

I hear you, yet I’m still happy I bought my condo ten years ago. First, if there are problems with noisy neighbors, etc., I can call the management company (and yes, I would take it to them and/or call the cops if it was a very loud party or something, but that would be the case with a single-family home as well). And while the fees are cumbersome, so would the maintenance and upkeep on the yard, roof, walkway, and driveway of a house. Yes, I could mow my own lawn, but I’m not handy enough to replace my own roof or windows–money which I would have to save for such things anyway. And yes, there are a lot of rules, but when you think about it, it’s nice to know that people can’t leave all kinds of trash out on their balconies (which my upstairs neighbors did, stinking things up for me) without consequences (they were told to stop and were fined, and lo and behold, it stopped). My sister and brother in law own a house, and there’s a home on their street with overgrown weeds, trash in the yard, etc. It will take forever to have anything done about that.

Also, I couldn’t afford a house, and renting a place costs far more than my mortgage and condo fee combined.

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avatar 56 Anonymous

I currently own a home and can’t wait to get out of it. I hate having to keep up with the outside and feeling inferior to my neighbors who are out there trimming their lawn with scissors (yes, they were edging their lawn with scissors). I have been so busy this summer that I haven’t turned on the sprinklers or pulled a single weed. I’m sure the neighbors hate me. I just hate maintenance, period. I hate yardwork too. The only plus is that I have a half acre and my dog can run around in the back (he’s a smaller 20 lb dog).

I have owned homes that have HOA and that was AWFUL. We couldn’t even plant a bush without prior approval, and couldn’t remove one without approval. We had a gardener and we still got fined about once a month for our grass being too long, and one time we got a patch of little white flower weeds and got fined. We couldn’t even park in our driveway!!! We ended up having t measure our SUVs and prove that they wouldn’t fit in the garage. Once I cleaned out the garage for 2 days and parked my little car in the driveway. I got fined. My Mom visited for a week and brought a car…we got fined. It was evil. however, our house also astronomically skyrocketed in value because it was a great neighborhood.

Pluses and cons to everything. Next house will probably be a condo, but a townhouse style. Minimal yard, but still a sense of being separate from the neighbors.

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avatar 57 Anonymous

In our area, downtown condos sell for $300/sq. ft and up. The actual cost is higher, if you factor in the condo fees which never stop. The problem is that the developers overpaid for the land and have to jack up the condo prices to make their margins. The other problem has been speculators who drove prices up during “pre-sale” mania. Not for me.

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avatar 58 Anonymous

I guess condos aren’t for everyone but I think they’re a great investment. I live in a city and can’t stomach the idea of living in suburban sprawl – especially with gas prices. I want my weekends to be filled with going out and relaxing, not worrying about house maintenance – especially while I am young. My boyfriend is in the process of buying a condo right now.

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avatar 59 Anonymous

While I agree on some points (noisy neighbors, annoying association fees), I would still argue that those who cannot afford to purchase a home (or at least want a “nicer” condo) are betting off purchasing a condo rather then renting a condo.

Both my wife and I purchased condos right out of college (prior to when we married). In the 3 years we owned the condos mine appreciated $70K and her’s appreciated $40K. This more then helped with the downpayment of our home when we went to sold. At 22 years old, I had neither the time dedication or the money to purchase a home. We are now MUCH better off having purchased the condos vs renting.

Just my 2 cents

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avatar 60 Anonymous

Good point. my parents owned a condo in AZ for 20 years. No issues, Made good money on it. They also owned one in Brandon Chase in Howell MI for 7 years. They had no problems. I acquired it in February 2014 and had it on the market March 2014. I wanted to live there. Most units had finished basements, the unit three doors down finished their basement in October 2013. When I went to finish my basement I found out that for 20 years they have had an unwritten rule that you were welcome to finish your basement illegally without a building permit but you are not allowed to finish it legally with a building permit because thy did not want egress windows. Naturally this was not in the copy of by-laws I received. Howell is politically corrupt so the county and city would not do anything about it.
It cost me $10K in realtor fees , tax stamps and title insurance to sell it.
A law suit might have worked but who wants to live in association where you have to hire a lawyer to obey the law? What does it say about the people running the association for 20 years that think they can pick and choose what laws to obey? Also insurance companies don’t have to pay if there is damage due to poor construction and there was no building permit. If there is a basement fire, there would be an assessment on all of the co-owners to pay for any damage.

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avatar 61 floodedsky

I feel for you losing the $10,000. I think the same thing might happen to me. I am having problems with my co-op board. To me, they seem corrupt. In some cases, I think the only reason they volunteered for the board is so they can do whatever they want, while fining residents they dislike who question them. And what you said about the insurance companies makes perfect sense. Gee, you have enlightened me. It’s all a scam! A very sick scam.

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avatar 62 Anonymous

I have to point out that your second point about condo’s not going up in value as much as detached homes is not true in areas where there are nothing but condo’s – namely say…NYC:) I would love to buy a home with land in manhattan, unfortunately something like that starts in the 10’s of millions and there are only a few choices.

In any dense metropolis – even ones that do have houses too (like SF) condo and home prices will be locked together as far as general appreciation goes.

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avatar 63 Anonymous


I could not agree with you more. I bought a single family home thinking I would love it, but not so much. I hate doing maintenance on the yard, bushes, weeds, roof, gutters, the list goes on and on. I am kind of stuck at the moment, but when the market picks back up a bit I am seriously considering moving into a Condo. I found a condo development close to where all my friends live, easily accessable to the city and my job. Plus it has underground parking and a clubhouse with gym, poker tables, etc…I will take the condo fees for all those ammeneties. If you add a gym membership onto hiring someone to upkeep your yard, shovel snow, etc… for you like I do, it makes the fees not so bad. So while I agree with most of this post, there are some positives for people living in a condo. I would trade the equity from the land for a somewhat carefree lifestyle any day.

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avatar 64 Anonymous

Just remember that condo board members have zero legal liability.

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avatar 65 Anonymous

ITA about the convenience and less need of things like cars, etc. with condos. I’ll also point out that it’s dangerous to treat your home like something you’ll profit from. An article in the Wall Street Journal made the point that the appreciation in a home’s value should be regarded more as a refund for all of the money you pay into it for maintenence, repairs, etc. I own my condo and I don’t regret it–but I pay a mortgage instead of rent because one day, my fifteen year mortgage will be over and I won’t have to pay the mortgage again. I can redo the kitchen if I want to, paint the walls any color I want to, etc. It’s my home. Yes, I’ll pay fees, but as I pointed out before, that money would be out of my pocket towards the maintenance of a single-family home as well.

I really don’t like the idea of homes as money-makers. Sure, it’s nice if the value goes up and you make a pretty penny, as long as you’re moving to a much less expensive area. Otherwise, you’ll be in the same boat as you were, and people just starting out won’t have a chance. That’s what happened where I lived–the bubble grew to the point where people who made decent money and saved still couldn’t afford to buy their own homes (without some ridiculous mortgages, which some people went for and others didn’t). I’m glad I was able to buy when I did–had I waited two years, this condo would have been out of my price range.

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avatar 66 Anonymous

Flexo, I totally agree that there are many negatives to condo ownership. But my husband and I got lucky and we love our townhouse (which is technically a condo for insurance purposes). The biggest benefit is that we don’t have to maintain a yard or pool, yet we have beautiful landscaping and a pool and jacuzzi just steps away. Security is also taken care of, along with some maintenance (such as annual termite inspections).

I say we got lucky, because we have fantastic neighbors on both sides who are nice and don’t bother us one bit. And we got lucky because our management company is super responsive and very competent, which I’ve learned isn’t the case everywhere. Also, our monthly HOA fees are very reasonable. We bought several years ago, so the combination of our mortgage payment and HOA fees is less than what we would be paying in rent for a comparable place. I haven’t crunched the numbers but I’d bet that would be the case even if I factored in our condo and earthquake insurance policies.

Condo living might not be for everyone, but I wouldn’t rule it out just yet if I were you. Unless you dream of maintaining a yard.

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avatar 67 Anonymous

I had beautiful landscaping too. One day I came home and found that the white pines in back, which concealed the buildings behind had been trimmed up 8 feet off the ground. The Japanese maple in front had been cut down to avoid leaves in the gutter. No advanced notice for which the president of the board apologized . An apology does not bring back 20 years of tree growth. He said it was done to save money on landscaping maintenance. For the prior 7 years , the dues had not been raised and every year $15 to 18K had been added to the reserve funds. Now he is mutilating the landscaping without providing any info as to why there is a money problem. Note that there were no white pines and Japanese maples by the units belonging to any of the board members To top it off at the annual meeting the community voted to skip a financial audit for the 6th year in a row. This condo had been in our family for 7 years with no issues. Good luck

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avatar 68 Luke Landes

Thank you very much to everyone who has been sharing their experiences with condominiums. They are a lot more positive than I had expected.

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avatar 69 Anonymous

I used to have a house and I now have a condo in a lovely walkable town. I will never own a house again. The maintenance was far too much work for a single woman like me, and the house, at 2600 sq. ft., was too big. I had to take a car everywhere and since I was the only single person in a family neighborhood, I didn’t get to know my neighbors that well. I despise outdoor home maintenance, so that was the deal killer after four miserable years in the house. Now, my heating and cooling bills in my 1000 sq. ft. condo are 15-25% of what they were in my house, and I spend less in maintenance fees than I ever did on the house. Plus, the peace of mind and time I freed up allows me to pursue more satisfying, and potentially money-making, activities. My condo is only several blocks away from the supermarket, farmers market, library, drugstore, restaurants, shopping, and community activites, so I rarely need to take my car out except to get to work. I know all the neighbors on my floor, which is a mix of empty nesters, singles like me, and young married couples. I adore living in a condo and am glad that I finally figured out what was right for ME.

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avatar 70 Anonymous

It seems like half these comments amount to little more than propaganda for Sustainable Development. Home ownership bad…stack ‘m and pack ‘m good. Whenever I see someone using buzzwords like “walkable community”, I’m suspicious.

I can see how a Condominium might appear as an attractive option for the busy single/couple on-the-go or retiree looking for a down-sized, maintenance-free lifestyle. But most Condos in my area are rentals, and I can’t imagine anyone finding it desirable to purchase and ‘live’ in a condominium where the unit next door is inhabited by people, often on government assistance, raising a family in a one bedroom, six square foot space with two or three dogs, and about an 8th of an inch of Sheet rock between you and them. I suppose Condo life could be quite desirable, comfortable and pleasant in a world populated by polite and considerate neighbours. Unfortunately, this isn’t the world we live in. When you live in a condo and have disruptive neighbours, you have to deal with the absentee landlord, which often requires taking legal action. The Association or building management company will not help you. There is no ‘apartment manager’ to call when your neighbour is blasting 500 decibels of bass through your wall at 3 AM in the morning. You’re on your own.

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avatar 71 Anonymous

Thank you Smith!
I Couldn’t have said it better myself!
One doesn’t realize the importance of civilized neighbors until it’s too late..

My neighbor is a 28 year old silver spoon guy who’s trying to be the next Lady GaGa. All my reports and complaints to management and the NYPD have proven to be totally futile or have gone awry.. The clown has literally turned his Apt. into a rehearsing studio, with all sorts of heavy equipments and instruments. He invites his band over two to three times a week to practice their shrieking ritual. It’s a bloody circus.

Also, I had chosen this building (Jennifer Towers Apartments, midtown east NYC) because it was strictly prohibited to have pets in premises (I’m allergic to them). Next month the sign was removed and the Super himself adopted two camel size pit bulls!! Now the tower accommodates a sum of 150-200 puppies of all sizes. The driveway, elevators, rugs and hallways STINK with dogs excrements and waste.. most residents (hey this is NYC! 96% of them are single) now accommodate up to 3 dogs in a 280 sf space (sf= Square Fingers which is the new module in Manhattan) and now the tower smells like a pig farm.

How much for a 1 Bedroom Apt. in this wretched and inhumane environment you ask? Starting $2,700 a month, could go up to $3,200 depending on the view and other irrelevant BS. Parking fares in this area run between $300 to $550 a month. Remember! 2 third of our WORLD POPULATION STILL LIVE ON LESS THAN 2 dollars a day.

I’ve given up on investing in this part of the world. I’m saving my money to buy something nice as soon as I’m back into my beautiful country, where property tax on a 400 Square meter Apt. (yes we measure by Sq. meters goddamn it!! This is PLANET EARTH, the third biggest planet in our SOLAR SYSTEM!) can hardly exceed 140$ a year. Maintenance is in the $120-$150 ballpark, and parking is always an essential part of the package, not the fancy “washer and dryer” amenity option that brokers brag about here in NY.

Whatever happened to the beautiful America..

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avatar 72 Anonymous

you are suspicious whenever you see the term “walkable community”? WOW! you find it hard to believe that there are people who would rather walk to their everyday services rather than jump in a car? Well, Friend, I am one of those at age 68; I want to be able to walk a short distance to the grocer, to the drug store, to the hair salon, etc and to be able to hop (well, not hop) on a bus or my bike for those things that are more than a couple of miles. It’s about keeping active and the way to do that is to live in a city where it is more difficult to get in a car and navigate city traffic than to walk, bike, or use PT. It’s not attractive to discount everyones idea of what is good for them because you don’t happen to be of the same mindset. It makes you sound older than me.

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avatar 73 Anonymous

THIS! You nailed it. A possible problem in any multi-family living arrangement. In my neighborhood of homes when the teenager gets a little too rowdy on his dirt bike, one of the neighbors calls the police who come out and speak with him. I think the old folks just about have him and his family trained. ;) That’s the worst we deal with – a yahoo with a noisy dirtbike and he is nearing the age when he’ll probably move out. (I’ll bet the old folks around us will throw a little ice cream social to celebrate…).

All a person has to do is be choosy about which neighborhood they buy into. Spend enough $$$ and you’ll have picky neighbors. The prices quoted in this article combined with the HOA fees are multiples of what it costs to BUY a nice house with 1/2 an acre here. Go down market a little and there is a fair chance that you’ll have multiple yahoos in your neighborhood.

I don’t look forward to home maintenance particularly but it really isn’t that much of a task. We clean out the gutters a few times per year. Really need to buy gutter guards sometime before fall. For ten seasons we have cleaned them out by hand from a ladder. Single story home. For ten seasons we clean up the leaves a few times per season. Amounts to a couple of hours each time. Not hard work. Always followed by a hearty meal and good conversation. Yard cutting takes 45-60 minutes. I alternate between a reel mower (love it to death) and a gas powered push mower. I need the push mower to mulch up the sticks which absolutely stops a reel mower.

if the neighborhoods where you live are lousy or too cookie cutter or expensive, go look at a flyover state. Lots more to the USA than NYC, Florida and CA.

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avatar 74 Anonymous

Some people I know sold their homes and bought condos when they retired. Maintenance and upkeep and also security were the main motivators.

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avatar 75 Anonymous

I was a single woman when I bought my 850 sq. foot condo in 1997. I came from a house and didn’t relish the idea of doing all the outside maintenance. I bought in a condo development that I had lived in two times previously as a renter – once when I was 17 (I’m 43 now) with my mom and sister and once in 1992 with my then husband. I knew they were well constructed and the association kept the place looking great and well maintained. When I bought, condo dues were $91 a month which included basic cable, water, garbage, sewer, pool maintenance, grounds, roofs, etc. Condo dues are now $223 a month mostly due to the horrific run up in insurance costs due to the 2004 hurricane season in Florida. Our master insurance policy was canceled at least 3 times. My personal homeowners insurance premium per year is $761 and my taxes are $300 a year. I paid off my condo in 8 years so the maintenance is no problem. Since I’ve been there, we’ve only had 1 special assessment and it was for insurance reasons.

It has worked out for me – I bought something I could pay off quickly. Everyone’s situation is different and you just make the best decision you can at the time.

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avatar 76 Anonymous

I disagree wholeheartedly with this article. A condo is a great stepping stone toward a house. It is far better than a co-op, because the fees are lower and the restrictions are fewer.
I purchased a condo in order to pay the same in mortgage as I was paying in rent. Sure, the downpayment took time to generate, but when I had it, I was then able to purchase a 2 bedroom, rent out one room, and paid less in mortgage than I was in rent. Once I was married, I lived there for 2 more years and eventually we bought a house. Now we rent out the condo. After 19 years, it’s almost paid off, and the rent far outstrips the monthly payments. In addition, the value is now 3X what I paid for it.

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avatar 77 Anonymous

I’ve had my 732 sq. ft. apt-condo since 1988, and I love it. It’s in a very walkable neighborhood, with a bus stop right in front of the complex,and near our little “village” where I can go to a restaurant, take my dry cleaning, or pick up an ice cream cone! While there are some disadvantages, most of my single friend with homes are devoting a whole lot more $ to their real estate and utilities. Best of all, my condo will be paid for by the time I retire. My friends will be carried out on their backs and in boxes by the time, if ever, there houses are paid for. Worse, because many of them are “house broke”, they’re not able to save very much toward retirement. Beware of buying a home for investment; you may wind up with anything but.

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avatar 78 Anonymous

The value of a condo is partly related to it’s whereabouts. … as others have stated.

In my area, if you want to truly live *downtown*, you must buy a condo… and you pay dearly.

You can only build so many condos downtown, so they are limited in supply keeping their value up.

They offer a great lifestyle, no parking problems, and the ability to use the car less often.

If you are talking about joe-blow condos that are scattered around town, then I agree that they are questionable.

Another value of condos is that utilities are lower. Your neighbors act as insulators! I have noticed this when I lived in an apartment… much lower utilities.

This offsets some of the condo fees.

I would also bet that home ownership is FAR more expensive in terms of maintenance as well. I live in a small home, and yet I pay far more in utilities and home maintenance than someone might for a condo fee… so that condo fee is probably cheaper…. and maybe quite a bit cheaper!

Consider the price and maintenance of all your home/garden equipment!… and then the labor of actually using the darn things on hot sticky summer days. Lovely. Then consider having to pay the handyman for various things.

Imagine being able to spend your time engaging in activities of your own choosing rather than having your home dictate what you will do: mow the lawn! clean my gutter! fix my siding! Get those weeds! Remove the dead tree!

So condos may be a great value AND time saver!

If downtown condos drop in price, I’m all over it.

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avatar 79 Anonymous

Utilities are cheaper IF the HVAC equipment installed has any quality or efficiency. Rented a townhouse with the cheapest of the cheap equipment and our house cost less to heat and cool even taking into account the cost of replacing of the house’s original 20+ year old HVAC equipment.

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avatar 80 Anonymous

I had a beautiful condo in California and sold it back in 2003. Bought a house in Vegas and it is my biggest regret in life! I hate it! Not only did I increase my stress level living in the house, but my expenses. Living in the condo was cheaper. I regret this move every single day of my life!!! Now that I can’t sell the house because the value dropped so much…
I feel so hopeless! Not a nice way to live. :(

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avatar 81 Anonymous

Oh so sorry to hear your story. About four years ago a friend of mine bought a vacation home in Vegas in a gated community. It was a 3-4 hundred thousand dollar home with a pool and they got it fully furnished for 140thou. I know its been slow recovery there. Good luck I hope things pick up soon.

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avatar 82 floodedsky

Oh, gosh, I feel so sorry for you. Someday, the real estate market will reverse and you will be able to get out of your situation and maybe even make enough of a profit to get you where you want to do. In the meantime, though, I hope you can discover some ways to enjoy home ownership, despite its costs.

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avatar 83 Anonymous

Condo living is about lifestyle. If you are childless and want to live in the city a condo is great. If you want to live in a house in the burbs, have a yard and a garage then condo dwelling is probably not for you. To say that a condo does not appreciate is ludicrous. If you buy a condo in a desirable area, especially in a urban location, you can see a great return on your investment if you time your buy right. I am looking at owning a condo in a brand new high rise building in a great urban location and can’t wait to walk out my door and have all that the city offers at my finger tips. Not to mention zero commute and a world class mass transit system. In many cities, even regular old houses have HOA dues and rules attached to them. I’ll leave the suburbs for boring families!

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avatar 84 Anonymous

Cass, would you mind sharing the city your condo is in. I want a walkable city, highrise with nice views, and a “world class transit system” to boot! Please share for my research file.

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avatar 85 Anonymous

Boring families? Really… We are a busy family taking camping trips, beach trips, building furniture and restoring old cars, involved in a number of our kids’ activities. Boring?

Boring would be me living in a condo. No interest in golf. No interest in sitting around the pool. No interest in chit-chat at a clubhouse. Concerts and all the typical perks of life near a town we already have. I’ll do the retirement village condo lifestyle when I’m old and unable to do anything else like my grandmother. She’s extremely happy there and wishes she had moved there sooner in her old age. When I finally move someplace like that I’ll have to give up everything that I like to do which involves playing in the yard with the family dog or the kids, having a home shop in my garage, vehicle restorations and building furniture, etc. I can watch TV and go downtown I suppose and sit in the coffee shop or read at the library. No thanks. Not yet.

FWIW our commute home to town is about a 5 min low speed drive. I could do it in a golf cart if there were golf cart trails. I’ve done it on a bicycle but the elevation changes aren’t conducive to riding a bike here. My commute all the way across town to work takes 15 mins at 30-35 mph.

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avatar 86 Anonymous

Oh FWIW my worst utility bills for our house are in the ~$135 range. Seems to be a popular topic of concern here.

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avatar 87 Anonymous

I think it depends on the area where you’re living. If you live in a very expensive and popular urban area like me, condos are a great option. They still appreciate like crazy, and people seem to forget that HOAs actually cover expenses that you’d be paying for out of pocket in a single family dwelling (water, garbage, exterior maintenance, etc…)

I have owned a single family home and am considering a condo. A condo would allow me to live in a much more interesting, edgy part of town where I could not afford to buy a house. The house was great, but it cost a mint to heat it, etc. I think that the bills we paid were larger than the HOAs I expect to pay.

That said, it is all a question of the lifestyle you want. I like both arrangements for different reasons. If you don’t live in New York, The Bay Area, etc, buying a single family home probably makes more sense.

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avatar 88 Anonymous

Assoc dues at our building do not pay forsomeone else to sell a unit. That is paid buy the seller.
It pays for heat, cable, water, garbage,everything except phone and electric. Nice. way less work (staff do that) more time for vacation! Unit safe while we are gone too!

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avatar 89 Anonymous

Well, I have the pleasure of having the best of both worlds. We recently moved in a 2200 sq ft. single family condo. It’s the new wave in the area, I have no one above or below and I have only one house on the side but it’s detached and I have about 20 ft before I am in my neighbor’s yard. I love my condo and I hate yard work so the fact that my condo association fees cover that makes it a plus! If I had to live with someone above, below, and on both sides of me, I probably would not have purchased my condo. I guess it just depends on what works for you.

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avatar 90 Anonymous

Where do you live?

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avatar 91 Anonymous

You do not own the land, the roof, the walls or the foundation. There is no “your yard”. What you own is a fraction of every unit in the complex and the right to occupy a particular unit
You don’t have to mess with the landscaping, but you will have no say in it either.

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avatar 92 Anonymous

condo buyer beware, you should check out the declaration, and laws governing the property in the state you wish to purchase. Many complaints arise out of malfunctioning condo boards. Attend all meetings, and record them, for verification of the minutes. Pay fees, and assessments then argue disagreements to avoid eviction, and or liens leading to forclosure to your condo. know whether ay rules or regulations violate your rights. Only a close watch and active participation of all members will help to keep a condo board in check. Avoid condos where participation of unit owners is low. The law gives a lot of power to the board, and abuse of those powers can and does happen.

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avatar 93 Anonymous

Michigan has no provision for enforcement of the laws. If your board violates the laws or the condo by-laws, it is on your dime to hire a lawyer and take them to court to get resolution. The board uses condo funds, you use your own.

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avatar 94 Anonymous

I have a question about your condo, if the roof leaks into your condo and the one next to yours who pays for the roof. And if one of you don’t want to pay for it or cant, what happens? Thanks

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avatar 95 Anonymous

I have a question about your condo, if the roof leaks into your condo and the one next to yours who pays for the roof. And if one of you don't want to pay for it or cant, what happens? Thanks

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avatar 96 Anonymous

The condo association as a whole owns both units, not the unfortunates occupying them. The condo association should pay. Hopefully the board has kept up on the insurance premiums.

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avatar 97 Anonymous

Ok .. I know my post is a tad bit late … but a Condominium is not a type or style of dwelling …. it is a type of ownership … Although, most people think of apartment style housing as Condo’s … a Condo CAN be a single family house …

Condominiums have shared common areas called common elements. Maintenance fees are charged monthly to the condominiums’ residents.

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avatar 98 Anonymous

Condos are possibly a great (and only) option for people living in popular cities like NYC and SF. And possibly for single people who don’t like yardwork, people who are extremely busy or travel lots, or elderly and incapicated people who can’t invest physical energy into upkeep.

Otherwise? I see seriously little point to it. My husband and I LOVE living in a house. The work we put into it is gratifying. I love being out in the garden, beautifying the house, remodeling each part of it as we see fit. My husband has room to do woodworking projects. Even though our house is on the smaller side compared to the enormous “McMansions”, we each have our own office. If we had an HOA telling us what we could and couldn’t do, I think we’d both have aneurysms. A lot of the arguments above also don’t mention you can pay someone a LOT LESS to do stuff like mow the lawn or do yard work.

So again, if you live in a highly desirable city like NYC or SF, where real estate is completely different than the rest of the country, (or you’re elderly or physically challenged) condo living makes sense. Otherwise, it seems like a risky and pointless exercise, IMHO, unless you get a crazy bargain. I’d rather rent an apartment.

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avatar 99 Anonymous

good for you and your husband loving to live in a single family house, but what does that have to do with me and what I love? It sounds so “everyone should think just like me.” You know different strokes for …. really does make for a more interesting world. The work,energy, and beautification I’ve put and still am putting into my single is no longer gratifying. People’s idea of that changes over time…or not. I want to spend my time doing what gratifies me, just as you are, and what gratifies me is locking my door, going down an elevator, out on to an alive street, and walking or taking a bus to a lovely restaurant, the museum, theatre, comedy club, the grocers, or taking a near by shuttle to the airport for places unknown without a thought about house/yard work needing to be done. I can’t wait!

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avatar 100 Anonymous

Great comment, Lee. I agree that we’re not all going to love what another person loves.

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avatar 101 Anonymous

True but most of those entertainment venues have an entrance fee. being “poor” in a city is terrible b/c there are limited ways to entertain one’s self aside from sitting at home staring at the walls. You can surf the web or watch TV I suppose. Read a book.

In the city you have the parks during the nice months. If you want to DO something – fix something, change something, build something – or sit outside without people – a house is the better way to go.

I think Emily is pointing out the things they do that you can’t do in a condo. I’ve lived in big cities, living in multi-family housing, etc. I’m glad that you and people like you enjoy living in the heart of the city. I only like to occasionally visit it. I want to be closer to nature and away from the hustle and bustle and endless costs associated with the cities.

Last night we had a great evening at home both inside and outside doing a variety of things and it did not cost us anything. Our kids jumped on their trampoline, rode their bikes, my wife walked the dog around our quiet neighborhood, and I coached our eldest on things they needed to get done before school restarted in a couple of months. Meanwhile we listened to the crickets, smells a summer shower that narrowly missed us, smelled the honeysuckle, watched the cats watch us from the top of the play tower, and a washed one of our cars… Tonight I’ll change the oil in the other car and we’ll spend 30 minutes planting a couple of hostas.

Just the differences in the urban and rural lifestyle. We are in a small town so I won’t even describe where we live as suburban.

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avatar 102 Anonymous

A lot of new single family developments have HOAs. So, in that case, you get the drawbacks of BOTH homeownership AND living in an apartment! One HOA bylaw I’d love to see is a no-dog-zone rule because so many dog owners have no business owning dogs. The “car must be expensive” bylaw sucks. I guess I’d have to keep my old cop car in the hangar. HOAs have too much power overall, and too many abuse it, like the HOA demanding you drive a BMW when an old cop car Crown Vic is just as fast.

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avatar 103 Anonymous

That HOA sounds like Soviet America.

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avatar 104 Anonymous

I have a house in the country. In Maine, on 3 acres. Everyone says it is lovely…..I hate it here. The work never ends. There is always something to work on, inside or out. I want a life with experiences, not obligations. This place eats up all our free time and there is still going to be stuff to do when we are retired. Been here 7 yrs and feel really trapped. I’m giving it 3 more years and if hubby isn’t ready to get out of this place, I’m going without him. Not giving up my life for this supposed dream home any longer. Hoping he comes to his senses… or he can come visit me in my nice easy to care for condo.
I’ve always said, you don’t own a house, a house owns you.

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avatar 105 Anonymous

I feel the very same way!

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avatar 106 Anonymous

Agree—I retired 8 years ago,moved to Florida got stuck in a condo prison and now am done with the short sale. I will rent until i die and let the land lord worry about up keep and I can go where I want when I want.never will I trap myself like I did.Good luck!

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avatar 107 Anonymous

Kudos! Elizabeth, you have expressed this beautifully. I hope to see you in the community room or by the pool or at the museum.

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avatar 108 Anonymous

I recently own a codndo i a nice gated communit, but don’t know if I have to pay all my HOA while I am not living in this condo? (the condo is empty, not occupied yet). Please answer to me ASAP

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avatar 109 Luke Landes

You might want to check with your condo association board, but chances are you’ll need to begin paying the fee once the house is yours, even if you haven’t moved in yet.

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avatar 110 Anonymous

Whether you live in the condo or not is not the issue, my friend. Ownership is the key word here, and as such you MUST pay all fees/assessments due as an owner. If you read your declaration you may see terms like, there are no waivers on assessments, there shall be one class of ownership. Not paying fees and assessments could result in a lien, and other penalties that can put you in a financial nightmare. The condo board, has the power to forcibly take your condo, and/or rent it out or sell it outright to collect the money you owe.

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avatar 111 Anonymous

As soon as you OWN—you are responsible for the HOA. They can fine you $50 a month and put a lien your home.

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avatar 112 Anonymous

jimmac the penalties vary with the association. His latepay fee might be more or less than $50….and they can not drop a lien on your home without notice and certainly not if he is a few days or a month late. There are steps in every association leading to that action.

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avatar 113 Anonymous

What’s all the gripe about condo living? I bought a condo – very quiet, corner unit – everybody is extremely quiet and respectable – everything is done for me – I can sit back and relax for a change – I OWN it and the prices are going up and up as demand is very heavy in this area – baby boomers are looking to sell their cumbersome homes and wanting to venture to the easy lifestyle while going south for the winter – Yeah – maintenance fees can be a drag – but when you think of the snow removal guys you had to hire – the tree trimmers, the lawn mowers, etc. etc. you had to hire to upkeep your house – who’s ahead? Plus your taxes are way cheaper. Let somebody else do ALL the work while you come home from work and just relax!!!!!

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avatar 114 Anonymous

I think it is crazy to own a condo since I do. Once it’s paid off you can’t get away from the outragious condo fees. Mine is over 500.00 a month and the condo cost 80k. And that doesn’t even include assessments and these are all about the boards desire to make something new that is not needed for the most part. Of course when I bought the fees were much lower and I had no idea they would become so bad I would have to sell. I would much rather have bought my own home and made my own decisions regarding who would do the work that couldn’t ever cost as much as I pay a month.

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avatar 115 Anonymous

So, Humm, you think cost have not gone up on home maintenance over the years? Or would you be one of those single home owners who lets their home go to hell because they don’t want to pay for the upkeep? If your board is lousy, vote them out, certainly you aren’t the only one who is fed up with their squandering ways if, indeed, that is what is happening.

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avatar 116 Anonymous

Keeping up our house cost me the purchase of a new weed wacker and leaf blower this spring. It’ll cost me maybe $25 in gasoline for the lawnmower for the season. My upkeep this year will be less than your single month of HOA fees. Sure there will be future maintenance like a roof and a new back door but still far, far less than HOA fees.

The door ought to last another 25+ years, the lawn equipment about 20-25 years (I buy quality), etc. The reoccurring costs like lawn care and flower gardens are tiny.

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avatar 117 Anonymous

Purchasing my condo was the worst decision that I have ever made. The walls are paper thin, the construction is poor and I’m upside down in my mortgage because I bought high and the appraisals have decreased. The available units for sale in my complex have been on the market for two years and we usually end up with renters. I hate the place and it is a nightmare. I feel like I am in prison with no options. I just want to get out.

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avatar 118 Anonymous

HWY, your comment really touched me. I think this is a too common experience due to scamming developers and contractors. Were they new when you purchased? If so, has your association gone to your city?…they obviously okayed construction as it proceeded, Did they approved any flawed construction that went against code? Has the association engaged the developer regarding the problems? Is this a subject at your association meetings? If not, why not? I would demand some answers.

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avatar 119 Anonymous


I am in the exact same boat. The walls are so thin, that I can literally hear my neighbors talk. I have had several sets of neighbors that have been loud and rude. But, that’s not all. Since purchasing my unit in my early 20s, I have countless instances of water damage. Faulty water heaters, AC units, and even a fish tank that had a clogged filter. I live in a no fault state. Meaning, that I am on the hook for all the repair costs. The only exception is if someone was actively working or doing something that caused the water damage issue. Further, the “owner” of the unit above me is a doctor and bought several condos to rent out. I wish I could rent my unit, but no. A bylaw was passed that stated we can’t rent our units out. The kicker is, the doctor “owner” was grandfathered in and can rent forever. We have several owners that were grandfathered in, and as such have numerous renters. Meaning, as long as I own my unit I will always have renters above me. Currently, my “new” neighbor has a screaming three year old that runs back and forth (see comment about paper thin walls, floors too…) and has a love of hip-hop music. That’s fine, but when my ceiling fans are vibrating and I literally cannot hear my TV, it gets rather annoying. We owe more than the condo is worth because we bought prior to the real estate bust.

Thankfully, my mortgage and condo fee are relatively small ($525 total). My girlfriend and I are in the process of buying a small house and will have to carry two mortgages until the condo sells. I am literally spending my life savings to get out of this mess. Good luck, my man. Rest assured, you are not alone


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avatar 120 Anonymous


I definitely feel your pain. Earplugs have been a life saver, even with watching television with headphones. My condo board has passed a resolution that we cannot rent our units and once a renter moves, the unit cannot be rented again. I feel like I am in a noisy prison. I envy people who live in nice condos. This is the worst financial decision in my life. I too am looking at houses.


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avatar 121 Anonymous

We are completely enamored and in love with our uber-modern, in-town, urban condo – In the heart of Reston Town Center! We are far beyond delighted with our home choice! As high-end, custom single family home-builders, we have myriad choices – Certainly, designing and building our own home is an option! We LOVE our urban environment- Our very generous 3 BR, 3 BA 2 story modern condo, and happily pay our xxxxx fee to live in our urban paradise!

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avatar 122 Anonymous

Hi, I am wondering if anyone can help here…I am 58 , female and single right now and I live in an apt. I will be moving to either a condo or apt . I am having trouble with deciding which is best for me after 9 spinal surgeries and some compression of the spinal cord now.

IF I was married it would be different. I would not have to handle it all on my own. Physically I am not sure I can do all this now at my age. I turn 59 in a month but am young looking.
I don’t look my age so people think I look normal, which with all the surgeries I am not like I used to be physcially.

Can anyone help here? I would love some good advice. There are pro’s and con’s to both but I need some good advice. If it is a condo stairs are out, everything needs to be one one floor. The new apt complex everything is on one floor and 1200 + sq ft…indoor parking , elevator etc…community room. Many different age groups.
My mom is elderly and fading so it is important for me to stay close by for now. If I buy if something happens to her who knows I may be free to move further out in the country.
Sorry I am traditional and the one daughter who got the job to watch over her mom…they did it for us, I cannot travel long distances to help and the rest of my family is out of town.

PLS HELP…with some good advice??

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avatar 123 Anonymous

Seems to me you answered your on question: stairs would not be a good choice for someone who has serious back issues and the condo has stairs. The apt is on one floor, with elevator access to apt . AND when Momma goes you will be free to move elsewhere…so the apt is the most logic choice at this time of your life. When momma goes you can consider a high or mid rise condo without maintenance issues, or a single rancher with dependable help when needed. Gardening doesn’t sound regularly feasible for your back. For what it’s worth.

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avatar 124 Anonymous

Single level duplex?

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avatar 125 Anonymous

I’m considering purchasing a condo, and I’m wondering if anyone has any comments about air quality in condos. Has anyone had any problems with cigarette smoke or other odors getting into their condo? Just curious.

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avatar 126 Anonymous

If you live on the second floor and your neighbor below you smokes on their deck,the smoke rises and goes into your condo as if you are the one smoking.I lived with that for 8 years and there is nothing you can do other than close your windows and screen door on a nice 75 deg day and use your A/C.I could smell everything being cooked on all sides of me—never will I live in a stacked condo.

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avatar 127 Anonymous

Jim, You could not have said it better! Until Condo Associations universally ban smoking (some already do), I would NEVER consider buying one. I have no interest whatsoever inhaling toxic second hand smoke ~ UGH!

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avatar 128 Anonymous

I live in a stacked condo, with units above me. When I sit on my patio, the people over me smoke and drop ashes down on the porch. I can also smell the smoke when outside.

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avatar 129 Anonymous

I have lived in several apartments in Atlanta and the last 14 years have rented 3 different condos. There are definitely pros & cons–The condo I rented for 10 years ended up having a mold issue, from roof leaks, and I ended up getting very sick. Not only that, it was in an upscale area but that also brought in the drug dealers (2 condos below) and everyone could smell their awful drugs. The police didn’t do much about it. Said they couldn’t until they physically saw the drugs. They stopped paying dues but it took the complex years to get them out. It was a nightmare. I then moved into another condo but they failed to tell me that there was a waiting list to rent and the board put pressure on them to have me move out. I was only there 10 months. The 3rd condo, I actually like and have lived here for almost 3 years. I’m saddened to say I have to move again because it is going up for sale. So, in reference to odors, yes, all 3 condos had issues with odors whether it is drugs or bad cooking you normally cannot escape it. As far as noise, first one doors slamming but otherwise quiet, 2nd one not sound proof at all, third condo very quiet. It’s really the luck of the draw.

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avatar 130 Anonymous

Our townhouse literally had a drug dealer move in next door. He had visitors day and night buying from him. The police knew – I made sure of that – but they did not bust him until a year or two later when they knew more about people both upstream and downstream of him. We got him evicted because of the big german Shepherd he kept. No dogs the lease said. Landlord did not like the forced vacancy (I told the landlord it was him or us…). Next came three rough dudes who fought, argued and finally assaulted one’s FOURTEEN year old girl friend in the parking. Imagine a circle of 20-somethings urging him on while he beat her up for some reason… He was 20-something, she was 14. Police came, arrests, drugs and big pistol found.

It was time to get out b/c the walls were too thin and certainly not bullet proof should the next renter also be trouble and ‘get into it” with someone in the townhouse. The landlord certainly did not have an eye for picking renters.

Bought a wonderful little 1100 sq ft house ten minutes from work on a quiet little deadend street. made a few upgrades and repairs, and stayed there for several years. the joke between my wife and I was that the house was so quiet – we couldn’t sleep. It was all on one level and when we got done with it – neat as a pin. Sold it a few years later and broke even on our costs. Lived there for several years more or less rent free. $430 per month. Now years later the neighborhood remains pretty neat and tidy but several houses have become rental properties> without a “horse in the race” so to speak – it’s not as quiet and friendly as it once was. saw in the paper that a man was arrested from one of the rental houses for crimes against a child. A pedophile.

Sold house #1 back then, bought house #2 and gained some space and a second bathroom. Still quiet, neighborhood of owners (avoid rental property is rule #1 for us) and these houses are big enough and nice enough to be expensive enough to attract well educated people. This neighborhood is not really suitable for rental property. People tend to buy and keep these houses long term b/c they are satisfying houses in a pleasing neighborhood. House is slowly appreciating but doesn’t matter – I don’t look at it as an investment so much as a good place to live/raise kids and we all need a place to live. The cost of the mortgage interest will far out weigh any increase in the value of the property so we are paying it all off as quickly as we can. Want to be mortgage free so if the economy implodes again – we only need to come up with enough money to pay the taxes. Insurance would be optional I suppose – although unwise.

Choose carefully where you invest your money in a home of any type. We spent time looking at home much rental property was around us and driving/walking the neighborhood at different times of the day to build impressions about the place. There were no surprises.

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avatar 131 Anonymous

I lived in a condo-UGH…the smells that traveled into my unit were HORRIBLE. I am a nonsmoker with severe allergies, you could ALWAYS smell smoke, and our units were supposed to be built well-BULL. The noise was another thing…quiet neighbors were the rarity. The HOA was useless, but fees increased ALL the time. I would NEVER, EVER, EVER be in a condo again. I made $ selling it, but it cured me from ever considering it again

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avatar 132 Anonymous

I just sold my condo (8 year prison ) one room “apartment” in a short sale. I will NEVER own a home again and will never rent where there is a association.Now with the mortgage crisis,most owners fled,went back to their country.went into foreclosure or short sale.Now most owners are slum lords,most foreign investors who don’t live in the so called “community” only getting their rent money from anyone who they can get it from and the best way for them is with section 8 so the check is in the bank every month with out having to chase down a tenant for the money.They also get together take over the board and change the rules to benefit them not the “community”.They have cut security here and now the crime has tripled in the “community”.They don’t care, it keeps the ass fees down and makes it cheaper to rent out.They don’t live here so they don’t care.The section eight condos are easy to point out.They have busted screens on the decks,the deck doors are off the hinges.the decks are just another place to store their junk —-all rules ignored about keeping up your property.I use the word “community” as a JOKE—–This place has turned into a college dorm ( animal house ) and a welfare ghetto—-I will rent the rest of my life and be free to leave when I want.owning,you become a prisoner of a building.And will never,ever live in a community with 300 apartments and a association…..I am closing this month and the 8 year mistake will be over and I will look for a nice apartment where their is one owner and no more than 5 units.

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avatar 133 Anonymous

Thanks for the input jim mac. I’m currently in a house and am overwhelmed with all the obligations required with home ownership. Renting sounds very freeing!

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avatar 134 Anonymous

I could not agree more. Here’s a link to the blog I recently set up to vent some steam. Feel free to add your stories to my collection.

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avatar 135 Anonymous

We’re in the process of going through a short sale for our condo and moving to an apartment. Why? The biggest reason is a $42,000 special assesment for envelope renovation. How did this happen? When we bought the unit, the association, which has almost 100 units, was self-managed. We thought they were doing a good job, but even though the people involved has the best intentions, they were amateurs. When we finally got a professional management company, it came to light that the buildings were suffering from years of deferred maintenance resulting in wide-spread dry rot. The only thing to do was to replace the roofing, siding, windows and decks for the whole complex. This after 3 years of intense stress. Now we’re looking forward to letting someone else deal with the problems. No more condos for us.

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avatar 136 Anonymous

Ralph, if you had the same issues in a single, it would cost you a hellava lot more than $42,000. However, did you buy into this new? or at later? if later, did you require a professional inspection of the condo building prior to purchasing? If not why not? Windows, bad decks, and siding are absolutely visibly to cursory inspection while roofs require a bit more effort. Hope you will never purchase any property without an inspection again. If you did purchase that inspection, then I would have gone after him for that $42,000, unless you lived there for more than a year when this “notice” came about.

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avatar 137 Anonymous

I’m still in my crappy and horrible little condo in Cleveland, Ohio. March 31st will be my 12th anniversary. I call it the day I was sentenced to prison. Of course, I realize I’m being dramatic. It is in a nice area but the place is a poorly built mess. There is no soundproofing so I hear everything from my neighbors and we have over 50% renters. All of the units have lost so much value and nothing is selling. I truly hate condo living and this has been the worst financial mistake of my life.

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avatar 138 Anonymous

To Henry:
I can sympathize with you. I am in a 4-unit building and have been forced to be the condo president for the entire 11 years I’ve been here. I’ve had to sue two of the three other owners for nonpayment of the assessment, and some of the legal fees that were racked up by these owners did not come back. The court didn’t order them to pay all the fees. I also hear all the noise from other owners and there are 50% renters. I, too, am underwater. I agree that this was a big mistake.

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avatar 139 Anonymous

and since you owners have allowed the renter:owner ratio to get so high and don’t have it in your condo declaration that it can’t be more than a very low %, you have to find buyers that have the cash to purchase…no mortgages. And now that more units are rented it is impossible to get a majority to agree to change the by-laws regarding this. Bad position to be in for sure. Pays to read before purchasing.

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avatar 140 Anonymous

If you feel like you are stuck in a condo with lots of renters, why not do everything you can to pay the note off early, save some money, and then move out into another property and rent your condo out? Learn how to make money add a landlord. Build up a collection of properties. Then you can live wherever and not worry about money or another job.

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avatar 141 Anonymous

I really do not want to be a landlord but that may be my only option. Purchasing my condo is the worse mistake of my life and its hard to get out. Several units in my complex are in foreclosure. My condo board had hired a management company and they have started to handle noise complaints but still doesn’t solve my situation. I wish I could walk away without any consequences but I am not about to ruin my credit over this stupid condo. I am having work to update some things and I may try to sell. I only need to break even on my mortgage.

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avatar 142 Anonymous

I can’t pay the mortgage off since I live on a fixed income and am retired. I do not have the income to be able to rent the unit out. If someone I rented to fell behind on their rent I couldn’t pay the mortgage. My only option now is to sell the condo.

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avatar 143 Anonymous

I am so sad that others have had such negative and unfortunate experiences! We continue to be delighted! Our condo is warm, welcoming, well managed, and increases in value! We are beyond happy with our purchase, and could not imagine a wiser of better decision for our investment or our personal lifestyle.

Maybe we should sign off this site, as really, we are quite satisfied condo owners.

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avatar 144 Anonymous

What about the 730 dollar a month

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avatar 145 Anonymous

Tom…if you think you would not be paying $750/mo on homeownership expenses, then I have a plot of land to sell you. First of all, you have your constant maintenance expenses, the putting aside for bigger items that will need replacing, tools expenses, insurance, water, landscape needs..and on and on it goes. and then you have to have someone come in an snowblow or shovel when you are away, or mow your lawn, pulll those weeds when you travel in the summer. $750 sounds like a bargain.

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avatar 146 Anonymous

Maybe in the part of the country where you live but my home costs less than one HOA payment to maintain all year long. A lawnmower ought to last 25 years. My father’s going on 45 years with one single Sears mower with a Tecumseh engine. I got 25 years out of my last lawnmower. Engine was good, the ethanol in the gasoline these days ruined the carburetor and it was not really worth repairing.

IF you are hiring out all your chores then yes – owning a house is very, very expensive. Actually the house isn’t that expensive – it’s the labor to do the chores you don’t want to do yourself that is expensive. You’re in an HOA maintained property and I expect your expenses might not have gone down that much, just converted to different kinds of expenses. ;)

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avatar 147 Anonymous

I looked at a condo one time and I saw what the agreements where all about the BIG BIG BIG …PICTURE WAS THE MAINTENACE FEE,S I said now frigging way 730 I looked at the agent
And he smiled… and I said too him do a lot of people walk away when they see that he said half the time … and I said it should be 90 percent of the time….lol I could go too Greece and Bahamas twice a year and go out too dinners on weekends with that amount .. I rather buy a house… anyone that buys a condo will sooner feel that pinch down the road if not right away …oh yeah ?

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avatar 148 Anonymous

The maintenance fees nearly match my home’s mortgage payment… ;)

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avatar 149 Anonymous

You don’t really own your condo. Board members work in cohoots & think that it is strictly a retirement commune. Nobody respects other’s peoples tastes like décor, pets, gardens, etc. It’s all about communism. Many get into debt or have special assessments. Fees are never stable. They make it sound like your getting a lot-it’s all overpriced non-skilled labor. Structures are weak & unsturdy; worksmanship is lousy. None want to update & improve energy use so consumers can save money.

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avatar 150 Anonymous

Kim, the lack of authority over ones life really makes me roll my eyes. Don’t any of you who are such nah-nah naysayers regarding condos read the doc before purchasing. Now I really do get that some are not tempermentally suited to Associations with their Rules and Regs, but that is no reason for you to think that others aren’t pleased as punch that the rules and regs are spelled out and that you can read them before purchasing to see if they are a good fit for you or not. Take responsibility for crying out loud. Also, not all condo developments are crappy, some are topnotch. Life is never all one way or the other.

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avatar 151 Anonymous

I read the condo guidelines. No where did it say they you are welcome to finish your basement illegally but cannot do it legally. The community has 20 out of 33 basements finished and zero building permits on file and zero legally required egress windows. They would not let me legally finish the basement
The guidelines say there are to be yearly audits but when two of the three board members vote to skip the audit they do not do one. There had not been an audit in 6 years. You would need 40% of the co-owners to insist on one and they all say that they trust the board members.
The guidelines say that there are to no permanent changes to the landscape without notifying the co-owners. One day the president of the board and his hired stooge mutilated 15 white pine tress by cutting the branches 10 feet off the ground to make the mowing easier. He also cut down 5 Japanese maples in the front of units to make cleaning the gutters easier. My neighbor had one and cried. The president did this saying the condo was running out of money when the yearly budget showed we would be putting $15,000 in the reserve fund for the year. I could go on. How does reading the guidelines stop this crap? The white pines made the view, blocked seeing the houses behind them, etc. The guidelines say the landscaping is for the enjoyment of the co-owners, not the convenience of the hired help. He later apologized but an apology does not make up for 20 years of tree growth. He blamed the money problem on a leak in one unit. The condo had $83,000 in the reserve fund and the deductible on the leak was $1500.00 and no one thinks they need an audit.

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avatar 152 Anonymous

Do not buy a condo We bought a condo in Brandon Chase Condominiums in Michigan in February and by mid-March we were house hunting. The majority of the units have finished basements. We acquired it with a plan to finish the basement. The basement is plumbed for a half bath and nothing in the guidelines indicated that you could not finish the basement. The condo board would not let us install the legally required egress window. They insisted that we could still finish our basement as people have skipped the building permit and therefore the egress window since the law went into effect in 2008. No legally required egress windows are allowed but they are fine if your break the law and finish your basement without a building permit. Do you really want a good part of your financial well being in the hands of people with such flexible ethics? Local government entities will not help you and who wants to live in a place where you have to hire a lawyer in order to obey the law?

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avatar 153 Anonymous

Carol, while a absolutely agree with your take on this particular community, I take exception to your broad “Don’t buy a Condo!” Not all communities are governed by such a foolish association. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most would never tell their owners to circumvent the town’s ordinances…what’s to stop you from informing the local building authority that is happening? Boy, they really are opening their owners, and ultimately themselves, to some possibly harsh consequences.

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avatar 154 Anonymous

It has been a year now since I first alerted the local building inspectors and city council to the problem. Their most recent communication was to give them another 90 days. I infer that they are still hoping I will go away. Howell Michigan has an “elite’ group that has run the city for decades and a former city mayor lives at Brandon chase.
You are correct regarding my extreme comment not to buy a condo. There are many happy condo owners. However the state laws should be checked into. Michigan has a long list of condo laws but like condo by-laws there is not a provision for enforcement. Hence the laws and by-laws only serve to give you grounds to sue. Paying lawyers is not on my list of retirement expenditures. I understand that some states, like Florida, provide for enforcement by government officials. In my case the only violation I could push was the violation of the building code. Note that my mother owned the condo for 7 years and thought it was a great place.

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avatar 155 Anonymous

I retired, sold my house and bought a condo. The advantages to this condo are:location, beautiful scenery and spacious rooms. The disadvantages are: rising association fees, assessments, no on sight management, dogs run loose, people living over me drop cigarette ashes, trash down on my porch, no insulation so can hear noise all around. I don’t want the cost of maintenance of a home,especially at my age. But due to all of the rude people living around me including the Board of Directors with the HOA I am considering selling.
My number one reason for not selling is not knowing where to move if I do sell. I can’t decide whether to rent an apt. after selling or buy a home.

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avatar 156 Anonymous

If the condo ass. in my area did stop follow THE RULES: one family ownership. know the rules have been broken do other STILL rules app?. Example I would like a small fence about 12/15 foot put in place for privacy and securely—-can I do this–they have two of the fence have been put –MY QUESTION IS A SIMPLE ONE ONCE THIS RULE (BROKEN BY THE ASS.) KNOW MEAN THAT ALL CURRENT RULES ARE ALL NOW RULES NULL AND VOID ?



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avatar 157 Anonymous

My husband and I are looking for a place in Florida in South Pasadena. I am looking forward to enjoying my time by the pool or walking to the local restaurants for dinner. This will be a second home for us. We currently live in a 3500+ square foot century home which is beautiful ……but, all you ever do is maintenance. The lawn is enormous at nearly half an acre. Believe it or not, but I have slowly been increasing the perennial garden beds because they are easier to look after than a big expanse of lawn. I hate mowing the lawn even if it gives me a great workout once a week. We have twenty two windows in our home and have replaced them all except 6 because we do it as we update. Removing knob and tube wiring, removing lath and plaster and drywalling, updating four bathrooms, deferring on repaving a 120 foot driveway because of the cost. It took us two years to find a roofer who would replace a forty foot high hipped roof because it’s more difficult than a bungalow. I have never lived in a condo but I believe comfortable condo ownership is like comfortable house ownership: know your product, know you own limitations, recognize what you could do ten years ago may not be feasible now or in the future. There are pros and cons for both. Prior to owning this gorgeous century home, we owned a two story semi-detached home without a driveway or garage. It had one bathroom. The lack of a driveway, garage or extra bathroom would be a deal breaker for some. Now, the size of the place we are in is a deal breaker for us. Eventually, we want to move even though I know this type of property appeals to a certain type of individual. B and B, anyone? We will probably move into a house when we sell this place because we have pets and I can’t see giving them up forever. Not taking them to Florida is okay for a few weeks at a time because our children take them.

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avatar 158 Anonymous

If seems like there are a lot of posters here are blaming condos for their bad decisions and in some cases stupidity.
Why would a person buy a condo without checking the financials? Did you not notice how they were maintained? Did you talk to people that live there before you bought? Was it built as a condo or is it an apartment conversion?

Never buy where rentals are allowed.

And to all of the posters that complain, have you run for your condo board? Do you attend every meeting?

Too many people here are using a sample size of ONE.

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avatar 159 Anonymous

I see no need to call people morons and other nasty things because many people like condo living because usually they are located in areas were everything is and the car gets little use and that my friends is a huge saving if you want to talk about a bad investment. I like my condo and don’t experience anything that others are beefing about because this particular place is well run. Anyway, owning something is better than paying rent and making someone else rich.
You want a house , go buy one but don’t criticize others who prefer a different setup. No matter what you live in it costs money , one way or the other. True a house can appreciate faster but it costs three times as much so it all evens out.

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avatar 160 Anonymous

Never, never, never.
Your Board becomes nothing but a terrorist. You will do as they say while they will do as they want. You will be hounded and fined and they will do anything they please.
Some States have decent laws. Some have NO protection for the small owner to have work done. The Board is hard to get rid of as more and more cities are putting them onto ‘private’ property’. NEVER Buy in Michigan…..EVER!

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avatar 161 Anonymous

Omg such know-it-all’s. Not all of us can afford a small home especially in California. Even if one owns a house the upkeep is free. The HOA pays for that so you don’t have to look at some slob who won’t mow their lawn. Like everything else you have to do the research. For many a condo is a stepping stone to the next investment.

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avatar 162 Guy Alert

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avatar 163 anonymous

You have totally forgotten Townhouse Condos. I recently bought one and I love it. My condo is a townhome, therefore I hear and see my neighbors as much as anyone with any type of townhome would. Yes there are condo fees, but they are actually cheaper than the HOA fees my mother pays for her single family home. And unlike her, I don’t have to worry about outside maintenance or exterior damage to my home because both are covered by my condo fees or their insurance. I live in Montgomery County, MD which is one of the more expensive counties in the US, and my condo fees are only $95/month, the neighborhood is beautiful and safe, and the schools are excellent. For this reason, selling and receiving a return on my investment is hardly a concern. I’m sorry for anyone who made a bad condo decision, but I’m very happy with my choice. My advice is to do your due diligence on your condo type, the associated fees, the neighborhood, and the local trends that could make your property appreciate or depreciate in value. But that goes for ANY home investment.

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