By Chip Browne, Real Estate School of South Carolina
There are several positive features of condominium ownership. Initially, simplicity is a word to link to this type of dwelling. Typically, condominiums are one, two or three bedroom units that require far less maintenance than an average free standing home. You don't have to worry about mowing the lawn or painting the building - that's normally taken care of by the HOA or a management company hired by them.
Security is another potential advantage of condominium ownership. Each owner needs a special key or code to enter the main building and then another key (or code) to enter the unit. Further, many condominium home owner associations hire security companies to guard the facility.
However, there can be some disadvantages for the individual consumer to consider. Condominium ownership involves a degree of compromise. As an owner, you can vote on various changes, improvements and fees linked to the facility. However, once a decision is made by the HOA, it may not please everyone.
Obviously, if you love the wide open spaces, massive lawns and riding lawnmowers, condominium living is not going to appeal to you.
Another caution: regardless of the initial cost of buying or financing a condominium, you will have to pay monthly regime fees for maintenance and, perhaps, an occasional special assessment for an expensive improvement, such as a new roof or atrium.
Before you purchase any condominium, try to contact a few of the current owners to ascertain what they like and don't like. Their revelations may well influence your decision.
Some other factors to consider are cost and location. Some condominiums are better buys than others. Of course, better views cost more. What are your preferences? For example, do you prefer your bedroom to be bathed in morning sun or do you relish a gorgeous sunset? Does the unit offer either? How high do you want your apartment to be? You can have many different vistas depending on the unit's location within the building.