Buying a Condo vs House in Lakewood Colorado or the Denver Metro Area
Are you interested in buying your first home or downsizing and have questions about buying a condo vs a house in Lakewood Colorado or the Denver metro area? Whether you are a first-time buyer or an empty-nester, the following considerations from realtor Sam Wilson may help you evaluate the pros and cons of a condo versus house decision.
1 – Condominium vs house: budgeting
If you are a first-time buyer, purchasing a condo vs a house in Lakewood Colorado may be a better fit with your income and monthly budget. When comparing the costs of buying a house versus a condo, a first-time buyer may be able to purchase a condo in a good neighborhood and good condition versus a home. By comparison, a home for the same market price may be a fixer-upper needing substantial repairs.
An empty nester may be more interested in using the proceeds from the sale of a home to fund the majority of a condo purchase, resulting in a low monthly or no payment. The decision to buy a condo or a home relies on many other factors, including lifestyle, that we will address in a moment.
All home buyers should consider the monthly cost of buying a condo vs a house that includes condo fees and repairs and home repairs. A conservative estimate is to budget one-half to one percent of a home value for annual maintenance, improvements, and upkeep.
For a $400,000 property, this would be an annual budget of between $2-4,000. If repairs are not necessary, the pool of funds can be used for other needs. Condo owners must set aside funds for monthly condo fees and also for unexpected or planned repairs.
2 – Condo versus house: a life experience vs a lifestyle need
When thinking about a condo versus house in the Denver metro area, think about lifestyle wants or needs. If you are a young professional, living in downtown Denver near restaurants, clubs, and access to activity day and night may be an attractive lifestyle choice. By contrast, empty nesters or singles may prefer access to shopping, medical centers, and outdoor activities that living in a condo in the suburbs offers.
Condos offer a low maintenance lifestyle where owners can come and go. The ability to focus on weekend activities, travel, and socializing instead of cleaning a large home, maintaining a yard, or working on home projects all weekend may be a lifestyle goal.
For some residents, the advantages of buying a condo vs house include having access to a pool, tennis courts, a gym, proximity to a golf course, pet areas, and other amenities. Opportunities for socialization are greater in condo buildings because of common hallways, elevators, and lobby use.
For others, buying a condo vs house is less attractive because of population density and noise. Living in a home eliminates hearing a condo neighbor playing loud music or coming and going at odd hours of the day or night. Having a house with a garage and a driveway ensures you will always have a place to park. Living in a condo may come with parking restrictions for the resident and guests.
Buying a condo vs house leads to considering time frames. A condo may be perfect if you are single or married without children. If you are considering a family, a condo may only be practical for a year or two before outgrowing the space. An empty nester living in a large home, or persons who divorce may find a condo perfect for a solo lifestyle.
3 – Location preferences: where to buy a house vs condo
Part of the location preferences for buying a condo vs house includes lifestyle experience vs lifestyle needs plus location and affordability. A condo downtown may be a life experience dream but financially impractical. A buyer may find an affordable condo that is locationally undesirable because of having an hour drive to work. The perfect house in the suburbs may have similar constraints.
Buying a property should be looked at as a long term investment. Can you visualize living in a condo or a home in Lakewood Colorado for at least five years? Is the location good for a work commute, schools for children, plus preferences for shopping, outdoor activities, proximity to friends and family? Finding a condo or home that is the right price but impractical from other aspects of life can result in home buyer remorse.
If you are an empty nester or single downsizing from a home to a condo, consider your needs for the next five or more years to identify the best location to buy a condo versus home. Other regrets from home buyers are purchasing a condo or house in a neighborhood expected to improve because of planned development that never happens.
When looking at location, be realistic about the resale value of homes in the neighborhood where you intend to purchase. An experienced realtor can investigate resale trends for you.
4 – Buying a condo vs house: have a long term plan
While buying a condo vs house in Lakewood Colorado or the Denver metro area may fulfill an immediate or near term need, consider this purchase as a real estate investment with long term financial implications. First time home buyers may realize that finding the perfect home is unrealistic based on a current financial budget.
Buying a condo you can afford can allow you to trade up to a home in a few years and turn the condo into a rental unit with a positive cash flow. Investing in your first home can be the beginning of a long term plan to build home equity and financial stability. Be thoughtful rather than rushed.
For empty nesters or newly single individuals, owning a home that you sell may open the door to a more carefree lifestyle because of making a long term real estate investment earlier in life. Regardless of your stage in life, real estate is an investment that is likely to increase in value over time.
5 – Comparisons and dealbreakers: owning a condo vs house
Thinking about owning a condo vs house brings up the idea of making a list with pros and cons for serious consideration. Here is a starter list of considerations:
- Potential repairs with a corresponding budget.
- Buying a condo versus a fix-er upper house for the same price.
- Police activity in the neighborhood or condo complex.
- For condo owners, research feedback about the maintenance and management company.
- Inquire if condo owners are behind in making payments. Learn about owner-occupied units versus rentals. Ask about trends in annual condo fee increases.
- Meet the neighbors. While a potential buyer may feel hesitant to knock on doors, this is the best way to get to know the people who may be your potential neighbors.
- Is your lifestyle more suited to a building or neighborhood with young children or older residents with grown children?
- What is the home sale trend in the neighborhood you are considering? Are home sales on the increase, or have residents lived and remained for years? Are homes turning over and being scraped or remodeled?
- For homes in an HOA, request the annual meeting minutes and follow through with similar questions above suggested for condo owners. Call and speak to members of the board of directors to ask questions about upcoming assessments or other potential concerns.
- Does the HOA for a home have restrictions that would be deal-breakers for parking, pet fences, outdoor improvements, or other approvals that might be a deal-breaker?
Buying a condo vs house in Lakewood Colorado or the Denver metro area is a decision that you will happily live with for years if you are thorough in the decision-making process. Hire a knowledgeable and experienced realtor in Lakewood Colorado like Sam Wilson who can help you evaluate available properties for pros and cons. Be realistic about your budget, ongoing property expenses, and changing work or family needs so that your decision results in a financial gain. Know the questions to ask before making an offer on a house.
If You Are Thinking of Buying or Selling – We’d Love to Work With You
Are you thinking about buying a home in Lakewood, CO? Get expert real estate advice when house hunting for homes for sale in Lakewood CO, Jefferson County, and the Denver metro area. Work with a buyer’s agent on the Sam Wilson Home Selling Team. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, we make you a priority and share our expertise to make the home buying or selling process as stress-free as possible.
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The Sam Wilson Home Selling Team specializes in homes in Lakewood CO, and Jefferson County Colorado, including Arvada, Aspen Park, Conifer, Edgewater, Evergreen, Genesee, Golden, Idledale, Indian Hills, Ken Caryl, Kittredge, Lakeside, Lakewood, Littleton, Morrison, Mountain View, West Pleasant View, and Wheat Ridge.
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