Both apartment living and condo ownership have their distinct advantages. Both dwellings offer reduced maintenance worries and responsibility. As a condo dweller, however, in addition to your mortgage, you are responsible for association fees. Learning about these additional costs may help you decide if condo ownership is right for you, or apartment living suits your current needs.
Living in an apartment can offer the least amount of maintenance responsibilities and costs. As a renter, unless your lease specifies otherwise, your landlord is responsible for maintenance for the lease's term. The cost of any maintenance is essentially built into your rent. As a condo owner, however, in addition to your mortgage payment, you'll chip in monthly with the rest of the condo association and contribute to the condo development's upkeep and maintenance through condo association fees. A portion of each condo owner's fees help maintain the property and contribute to operating costs.
Unless there are special features you want to see in your apartment, there's typically no additional maintenance fees you'll have to pay. Your landlord is responsible for interior maintenance unless you have agreed in writing to undertake some of those responsibilities, or unless you damage the property through negligence. As a condo owner, however, you will be responsible for repairs inside your condo. These extra maintenance cost would not be included in your monthly condo fees or your mortgage payments.
As an apartment dweller, you won't be responsible for contributing extra money to maintain your building's exterior or making those repairs yourself. As a condo owner, you won't have to make any repairs either, but you will share the cost with other condo owners. Typical condo association fees cover landscaping, painting, trash removal, cleaning and snow removal. A portion of your fees are also set aside for capital expenditures like roof replacement.
While apartment living can be maintenance free, you won't have much control over rising rental costs from year to year. As a condo owner, you can at least control the cost of your mortgage payments even if your condo fees rise. Also, the condo association can impose special assessments if there aren't enough funds to cover large maintenance items or planned improvements. Understanding the condo association's future development plans and current reserves before you buy will give you an idea of what kinds of future maintenance costs to expect.
Monica Dillon has more than 10 years experience in real estate sales, marketing, investing and appraising. She specializes in energy efficiency building practices and renewable energy. Dillon has been syndicated by the National Newspaper Publisher's Association. Her work has also appeared in the "Journal Of Progressive Human Services."