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View Poll Results: What to do?
Wait it out! The right home is bound to pop on the market soon. 13 30.95%
Buying a condo would be a good starting point to build equity. 9 21.43%
Go rent for awhile until you figure it out. 12 28.57%
Keep living in your mom's basement until you're a gadzillionaire. 8 19.05%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-17-09, 09:34 AM   #1
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Condos

You might know I've been shopping for a house. I'm starting to wonder if its the wrong time, or if I'm looking in a place that's out of my budget... or any number of other crazy concerns, like champagne taste on a box wine budget. Starting to feel like I'll be renting again soon (currently living with family). Which makes me wonder if I should take a look at some condos instead of single family homes.

I've been opposed to the condo thing in the past- not wanting to deal with a HOA, common neighbors, not having a yard, etc. I figure owning a condo isn't much different than just renting an apartment. But I'm starting to wonder, if I'll be renting instead- would I be better investing in a condo for a few years, get a little return out of my cash?


Thoughts on the condo v. home arguement?
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Old 09-17-09, 09:48 AM   #2
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Talk to your real estate professional. Look at market history. Can you really build equity? Watched a program on first time buyers last night. Single, male professional, bought a condo. His rental expense in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago was around $1300. Bought a condo a few miles away, monthly living expense went to around $2200 for comparable space with all fees, taxes HOA dues etc. factored in. You could build up a nice nest egg if you saved $900 per month for a year or tow and would not be tied down to a mortgage.

Are you pretty sure you are staying put long enough to build equity?

From my perspective, home ownership is better than condo ownership. I have never owned a condo though. I can tell you that if we sold the house today, we would come close to doubling original investment, after about 11 years of ownership.

If it was me, I would rent and save until the right place came along.
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Old 09-17-09, 09:54 AM   #3
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Talk to your real estate professional. Look at market history. Can you really build equity? Watched a program on first time buyers last night. Single, male professional, bought a condo. His rental expense in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago was around $1300. Bought a condo a few miles away, monthly living expense went to around $2200 for comparable space with all fees, taxes HOA dues etc. factored in. You could build up a nice nest egg if you saved $900 per month for a year or tow and would not be tied down to a mortgage.

Are you pretty sure you are staying put long enough to build equity?

From my perspective, home ownership is better than condo ownership. I have never owned a condo though. I can tell you that if we sold the house today, we would come close to doubling original investment, after about 11 years of ownership.

If it was me, I would rent and save until the right place came along.
I am sure I'd be staying put for awhile to build equity. The TC's the place for me!

My main concern being 25 and forward thinking, I don't want to end up in a situation where 3-5 years from now I'm itching to move because I'm "settling down" and considering a family. I have crunched the numbers, and figure I'd be saving about $400/month renting v. buying at the price point I'm comfortable in. Not really going to save tons over the next year or 2.

I ride this fence post between a house being a lot of responsibility at this time in my life, but something I could grow into. OTOH, a condo is more the "fun" thing to do, but something I could grow out of too quickly.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:04 AM   #4
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Old 09-17-09, 10:05 AM   #5
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hola, UA!

so, should I keep living with ma, or what?
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Old 09-17-09, 10:08 AM   #6
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hola, UA!

so, should I keep living with ma, or what?
Oh Snap!
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Old 09-17-09, 10:08 AM   #7
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Note the first time home buyers credit of $8000 runs out on Nov 30 and you have to be closed by that date. Now this may get extended but this is a nice bonus if you buy now.

You really have to look at your particular market. My GF is a realtor and while it has been tough down here in Miami things seem to be improving. The town I live in had 900 houses on the market last year this is now down to 350. She put in an offer on a short sale last week and it had 12 offers including a cash offer. The amount they took was $30k over her offer and she felt over priced. So those are some signs that demand is picking up and supply is dropping.

As for condo vs home a SFH is always less risky. With a condo you need to make sure that the occupancy rate is high, the majority of people are owners not investors and that the association is fully solvent. I plan to sell my SFH next year and get a condo on the beach but this is primarily because I am divorced and my kids will be gone so I don't have a need for a house. For someone starting out I would recommend a house over a condo if you can swing it financially.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:08 AM   #8
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Don't buy a condo. Rent if you want & save the funds. Sounds like a condo would be a "for now" solution - but if it's going to cost you that much extra per month, you might as well just sock the extra away for a down payment later.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:13 AM   #9
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Note the first time home buyers credit of $8000 runs out on Nov 30 and you have to be closed by that date. Now this may get extended but this is a nice bonus if you buy now.

You really have to look at your particular market. My GF is a realtor and while it has been tough down here in Miami things seem to be improving. The town I live in had 900 houses on the market last year this is now down to 350. She put in an offer on a short sale last week and it had 12 offers including a cash offer. The amount they took was $30k over her offer and she felt over priced. So those are some signs that demand is picking up and supply is dropping.

As for condo vs home a SFH is always less risky. With a condo you need to make sure that the occupancy rate is high, the majority of people are owners not investors and that the association is fully solvent. I plan to sell my SFH next year and get a condo on the beach but this is primarily because I am divorced and my kids will be gone so I don't have a need for a house. For someone starting out I would recommend a house over a condo if you can swing it financially.
I have definitely seen the market drying up as well. I was also on a house hunt in spring of '08, but financially wasn't quite ready. Even in the last month, its few & far between seeing new houses pop up. ATM, I'm not interested in fighting the short sale battle, or looking at foreclosures, which makes my market that much narrower.

I've even seen homes come on the market (not SS or foreclosure) and go into a bidding war within days. Its crazy!!

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With a condo you need to make sure that the occupancy rate is high, the majority of people are owners not investors and that the association is fully solvent.
^^ this is a good point. Although, I would also want to look into my ability to rent the condo, should I decide to do that down the road. Some HOA's only allow X number of rentals.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:16 AM   #10
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Housing is bouncing back so nows a good time to buy. Unless you buy a condo in an area that's undergoing some positive changes, prices don't appreaciate as much as houses. Also condo's pose poetntail problems with neighbors, especially older ones without as much sound proofing. You hate to feel stuck where the neighbors beside you or above you are constantly loud and noisy.

Many people forget about tax benefits from owning. The first few years payments are almost all interest which are deductable. That can make a $1,000 monthly payment for example be the same as a $650 one after taxes.

One benefit of condo's though is they can be rented fairly easily. When the don't appreciate fast, after you live there a couple years you have some equity. If you decide to move, an option is keeping it as an investment and rent it out. Even if rent isn't as much as your costs, you still get the interest deductions. Plus as the investor, you can depeciate things like the carpet, appliances, etc. It can be a good source of income for you.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:29 AM   #11
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Sigh - the one time I wish I lived in the States. In Canada there's no tax credit for interest.
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Old 09-17-09, 10:48 AM   #12
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Although, I would also want to look into my ability to rent the condo, should I decide to do that down the road. Some HOA's only allow X number of rentals.
You can do the same with a SFH. My GF has a 4/4 home, her last child moved to college and since the market was depressed she easily rented the house for $2800/mo. She then rented a beautiful condo directly on the beach for $2000/mo. So essentially she pays less utilities now and her rent is fully paid and she put $ in her pocket.

What is really interesting is the Trump Tower in Hollywood is one building over, finished and has zero occupancy in its 200 units. So those investors would rather wait until they can get their price on the property and run it at as low a maintenance level they can until people can afford the units. I believe the original starting prices were $1.6m for the smallest units. Will be interesting to see what they go on the market for and when.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:00 AM   #13
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If you are buying for a long-term residence, you should not allow the anticipation of short-term market fluctuations influence your decision to buy a particular type of property.

A condo or a single-detached each has its pros and cons. I live in a condo-townhouse, so I do have a big shared yard, and I don't have to cut the grass. That was appealing to me. What is important to you is probably different, but the things I regret most about buying the place I am in now is that I made compromises on things I really wanted, and now I don't like not having them...

So, my "official" advice is this: don't settle for something you don't want just because you feel it's important to buy something now to get a good price. I'd wait it out until what you want comes along.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:06 AM   #14
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The market is positively SATURATED with condos right now, at least here in my area. This is somewhat good for buyers but horrible for sellers. Plus, communities are having a hard time selling out all of their units, which means that the HOA doesn't switch over to the actual condo owners for a very long time. I personally don't think that condos are a good investment compared to actual freestanding homes, but that's just me. Plus the concerns you had about common neighbors, no yard, etc., are valid - condo living isn't much different than apartment living in that aspect. Wait it out until you LOVE something. Don't buy just because you feel the itch. This is a huge commitment - you want to make sure you're going to be VERY happy with it.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:07 AM   #15
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If you are buying for a long-term residence, you should not allow the anticipation of short-term market fluctuations influence your decision to buy a particular type of property.
+1
Housing is like the stock market we would like to get in at the bottom and out at the top. Unfortunately no one is able to predict things to that level. My experience with both is that the more long term your focus is the less you should worry. In my over 30+ years of home ownership I have moved (3) times and each time I made money, never lost money on property.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:10 AM   #16
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You have any really good friends? Good friends with money who would be willing to enter into a business agreement?

Me and a friend purchased a sweet house 50/50 both our names are on the mortgage (gay marriage style). It works, yeah you have the regular roommate issues, but the CASHHHHH we're going to make off this place blows away any disagreements we've had. It worked so well in fact, for our next place we're thinking about going in with another buddy on an apartment building. We'll all have our own apartments and rent out the rest.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:16 AM   #17
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I'm starting to wonder, if I'll be renting instead- would I be better investing in a condo for a few years, get a little return out of my cash?


Thoughts on the condo v. home arguement?
2 things: 1, your monthly condo fee includes building insurance (not contents/property insurance though). Maybe you already knew that.

2, I don't know about expecting return on your cash. I could see hoping you just plain get your money back, and that could be possible. Even with the market plunging, about 4 yrs along, we've built enough equity in our loan that we should get our downpayment back if we sold, leaving our monthly payments over the last 4 yrs as the rough equivalent of rent, which we were going to pay anyway. I suppose we'll be a bit behind where we would have been if we'd left that downpayment in a savings account but meantime we've been tearing down wallpaper and putting nailholes in the wall.

If you're not committed to paying rent anyway, I could see leaving the downpayment in the bank until the right place comes along.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:37 AM   #18
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Watch out with maintenance/repair fees on condos. You might be able to afford the monthly payment and condo fees, but how would you be strapped if the complex did an assessment and decided they had to repair the roofs, and charged all the residents an additional $2500 (or more)?
I've seen a few co-workers get nailed with this one recently.
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Old 09-17-09, 11:58 AM   #19
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You can do the same with a SFH. My GF has a 4/4 home, her last child moved to college and since the market was depressed she easily rented the house for $2800/mo. She then rented a beautiful condo directly on the beach for $2000/mo. So essentially she pays less utilities now and her rent is fully paid and she put $ in her pocket.
Yeah, I realize I could rent out a SF too, but in terms of renting out a condo- I'd need to check on their rules on that first.

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If you are buying for a long-term residence, you should not allow the anticipation of short-term market fluctuations influence your decision to buy a particular type of property.

A condo or a single-detached each has its pros and cons. I live in a condo-townhouse, so I do have a big shared yard, and I don't have to cut the grass. That was appealing to me. What is important to you is probably different, but the things I regret most about buying the place I am in now is that I made compromises on things I really wanted, and now I don't like not having them...

So, my "official" advice is this: don't settle for something you don't want just because you feel it's important to buy something now to get a good price. I'd wait it out until what you want comes along.
I think no matter what (until my career puts me in the "next" income bracket) I'll be compromising on something. As a 1st time buyer, I'm having a hard time deciding what the biggest priorities are.

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You have any really good friends? Good friends with money who would be willing to enter into a business agreement?

Me and a friend purchased a sweet house 50/50 both our names are on the mortgage (gay marriage style). It works, yeah you have the regular roommate issues, but the CASHHHHH we're going to make off this place blows away any disagreements we've had. It worked so well in fact, for our next place we're thinking about going in with another buddy on an apartment building. We'll all have our own apartments and rent out the rest.
I've heard a few success stories like this, and its pretty cool. I like being independent and living alone, though so, not really interested in considering that option. However, if I could find an investor that didn't have any interest in living there with me... that would be excellent!

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2, I don't know about expecting return on your cash. I could see hoping you just plain get your money back, and that could be possible. Even with the market plunging, about 4 yrs along, we've built enough equity in our loan that we should get our downpayment back if we sold, leaving our monthly payments over the last 4 yrs as the rough equivalent of rent, which we were going to pay anyway. I suppose we'll be a bit behind where we would have been if we'd left that downpayment in a savings account but meantime we've been tearing down wallpaper and putting nailholes in the wall.
Hmm, interesting situation- and a distinct possibility!

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Watch out with maintenance/repair fees on condos. You might be able to afford the monthly payment and condo fees, but how would you be strapped if the complex did an assessment and decided they had to repair the roofs, and charged all the residents an additional $2500 (or more)?
I've seen a few co-workers get nailed with this one recently.
Yeah, I've heard a few horror stories like this. My realtor is currently more experienced in SF homes, so I expect I'd find a different realtor, more versed in dealing with associations, so they know what to look for in terms of how the association is banking their money to prevent an issue like that.

I have seen a building in St Paul with $6,000 in assessments! Holy crap, what do people do , take out a 2nd mortgage?
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Old 09-17-09, 12:05 PM   #20
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hola, UA!

so, should I keep living with ma, or what?
Oh hell ya you should. That's the good life.
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Old 09-17-09, 12:27 PM   #21
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Oh hell ya you should. That's the good life.
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Old 09-17-09, 12:45 PM   #22
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Condos retain value like a colander.
Best to rent, or wait until you find the right house.
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Old 09-17-09, 01:27 PM   #23
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There is NOTHING wrong with renting. If you are saving $400/month by renting, you should absolutely do that until you find the right place. At 25, all kind of changes can happen. When computing pros & cons you must remember that the condo fees and assessments are not tax deductable, only the interest on your mortgage and your property taxes. If you can save $4800/yr and put that in an interest bearing acct (do not allow yourself to touch it!), in a few yrs you have built significant equity towards a downpayment of the house of your dreams. You qualify for much better mortgage rates if you have >25%down. I bought my first house at 30. Now at 42, my home is paid off. We have moved 2 times and made money on the sale of our first home and lost on the sale of our condo (the middle home).
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Old 09-17-09, 01:52 PM   #24
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Arti, have you considered a townhome? Two of the four homes I have owned were townhomes. Both were end units so I only shared one wall. They had small yards, but that was easier for me to maintain by myself. They also appreciated just like a detached house. When the market skyrocketed a few years ago my townhome had gone up almost 300% in value.

There is an HOA fee, but mine included a pool, clubhouse, private park, and also front yard maintenance - I never had to mow my front lawn.
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Old 09-17-09, 01:54 PM   #25
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Arti, have you considered a townhome? Two of the four homes I have owned were townhomes. Both were end units so I only shared one wall. They had small yards, but that was easier for me to maintain by myself. They also appreciated just like a detached house. When the market skyrocketed a few years ago my townhome had gone up almost 300% in value.

There is an HOA fee, but mine included a pool, clubhouse, private park, and also front yard maintenance - I never had to mow my front lawn.
I have somewhat. Still, the same HOA issues (except I get a yard as opposed to with a condo). Location-wise, I'd like to be in the city, relatively near downtown by bus, lightrail, or bike, and for a townhouse I would have to be out in the burbs.
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