What is a condominium? (with photos)

Older apartment buildings are often converted into condominiums.

A condominium is a form of home ownership in which individual units of a larger complex are sold, not rented. These units can be renovated apartments, townhouses or even commercial warehouses. Any multi-unit structure can be ‘condominised’, meaning occupants must vacate the premises or buy their apartments immediately.

Those who buy units in a condominium technically own everything from their walls inwards. All individual owners have shared rights to most common areas such as elevators, hallways, pools and club houses. The maintenance of these areas becomes the responsibility of an association. Each owner has a membership in the association, in addition to the obligation to pay monthly fees or special appraisal fees for major maintenance issues.

A condominium lease agreement.

A condo arrangement is not the best option for every potential homeowner. There may be a noticeable lack of privacy in common areas – the pool must be shared with all other owners, for example. Those who prefer to own all their amenities and maintain their own lawn and garden may choose to purchase a home of their own. It can also be more difficult to sell a condo unit than a home with acreage. Condo owners only own their units, not the ground below them.

Owning a condominium-style townhouse can be cheaper than owning a single-family home.

Those who can benefit most from condo living are veteran renters who don’t mind having neighbors nearby. Others may not want to be bothered with outdoor maintenance or lawn care responsibility. The overall price of a condominium-style townhouse can be much lower than an equivalent single-unit home. Buying a unit allows for capital construction, as opposed to paying the monthly rent on an apartment complex.

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Luxury condominiums may feature amenities such as a private hot tub.

One thing to keep in mind when living in a condo is the political reality of a homeowners association. Decisions can be made at monthly meetings, which will cost individual owners more money, but will not necessarily provide equal benefits for everyone. It can be nearly impossible to avoid being affected by at least one condominium board decision, so active participation in meetings and discussions may be more mandatory than you might think. Living in a condominium can be more financially advantageous than renting an apartment, but it requires more active participation in community events.

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