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How to Decide if Buying a Condo is Right for You

By the Mercury Team

Whether you’re stepping into the world of homeownership or looking to downsize, condos may be a suitable choice for your needs. In this blog, we’ll explore what a condo is, the pros and cons of buying one, how to buy one, and whether condos are a good decision for first-time buyers.

What Is a Condo?

A condominium, commonly known as a condo, is a type of living space similar to an apartment but independently sellable. Therefore, it’s regarded as real estate. The condo building structure is divided into several units that are each separately owned and surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned, such as gyms, pools, and communal gardens. Condos can come in various forms — from high-rise buildings in urban areas to townhouse complexes or even detached houses located in a gated community.

Condo vs. House

When deciding between buying a condo and a house, consider your lifestyle, finances, and long-term goals. Let’s explore the pros and cons of buying a condo versus a house below:

  • Ownership: When you buy a house, you own the structure and the land it sits on. With a condo, you only own the unit’s interior, while you share the exterior and common areas with other condo owners.
  • Maintenance: Owning a house means you’re responsible for all maintenance, both inside and out. On the other hand, condo owners usually pay a monthly fee to a homeowners association (HOA) that handles exterior maintenance and upkeep of common areas.
  • Privacy: A house typically offers more privacy as you have your own yard and space. Condos are typically much closer in proximity to neighbors, so they may not offer the same level of privacy.
  • Amenities: Condos often come with amenities like swimming pools, gyms, and security services, which are maintained by the HOA. These amenities are less common with houses unless you’re in a planned community.
  • Cost: Condos can be less expensive upfront than houses, particularly in urban areas. However, you should factor potential HOA fees into your budget.
  • Appreciation: Generally, houses appreciate in value faster than condos. However, the location and market trends play a significant role in property appreciation.
  • Resale and investment potential: Both condos and houses can be sound investments, but their value trajectories can differ. Houses often offer more control over improvements that can increase property value, while condos rely on the overall value of the complex and the decisions of the HOA, which can be less predictable.
  • Rules and restrictions: Condo living means adhering to the rules set by the HOA, which can dictate everything from pet ownership to renovation projects. When you own a house, you have more freedom to customize your property, provided you comply with city bylaws.

How to Buy a Condo

Understanding the homebuying process can help ensure a smooth transaction. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate your condo-buying journey:

  1. Determine your budget: Understand your financial situation and decide how much you can afford to spend on a condo. This includes reviewing your credit score, determining your budget, and considering how much you can afford for a down payment. Remember, aside from the purchase price, you’ll need to budget for closing costs, HOA fees, and any immediate repairs or upgrades.
  2. Pre-approval: Securing a mortgage pre-approval gives you a clear idea of how much you can borrow and shows sellers that you’re a serious, capable buyer. Some condos may not qualify for certain types of financing, so discuss your options with your lender.
  3. Find a real estate agent: An agent familiar with the condo market can provide invaluable insights into the buying process, help you find properties that meet your criteria, and guide you through negotiations and closing. They can also help you understand the specifics of condo living, such as HOA rules and fees.
  4. Research and choose the right condo: Consider what’s important to you regarding location, amenities, size, and community rules. Attend open houses and view several condos to get a feel for what’s available in your price range and what suits your lifestyle.
  5. Review the condo association documents: Once you’ve found a condo you’re interested in, thoroughly review the HOA’s declaration, bylaws, and rules. Pay attention to the association’s budget, reserve funds, and any upcoming assessments. This review can reveal the health of the condo association and any potential red flags.
  6. Make an offer: When you’re ready to make an offer, work with your real estate agent to determine a fair price based on comparable sales in the area. Your offer should also include contingencies, such as financing and inspection, to protect you during the buying process.
  7. Inspect the condo: Hire a professional to inspect the condo before purchase. They can uncover any potential issues that could cost you in the future.
  8. Purchase the condo: After your offer is accepted, finalize your mortgage with your lender. Before closing, you’ll receive a closing disclosure outlining the details of your loan and closing costs. Review this document carefully, and ask questions if anything needs to be clarified. Then, it’s time to close on your new condo, which will involve signing a lot of paperwork but ultimately lead to receiving the keys to your new home.

Are Condos Good for First-Time Home Buyers?

Condos can be an excellent choice for first-time buyers seeking affordability, convenience, and a maintenance-free lifestyle. However, it’s important to consider your long-term goals, lifestyle preferences, and financial situation. Evaluating the pros and cons of condo living in the context of your personal circumstances will help you decide whether buying a condo is a good investment, and the right first home for you.


When it comes to buying a condo or deciding against it, there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your lifestyle, priorities, and financial situation - so it’s important to consider all the factors and choose a path that suits you best.

As you move closer to making your decision, you should consider protecting your investment. Just as a condo can perfectly fit your living needs, condo insurance is tailor-made to protect your new home. Mercury Insurance offers comprehensive condo insurance policies customized to meet your needs. And with the option to bundle insurance policies, you can enjoy the convenience and savings of having your condo and auto insurance under one roof.

Contact us today for a fast, free quote!

Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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