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Should I Buy a House or a Condo in Los Angeles?

Posted by janepeters on June 29, 2013
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You have decided to buy a home in Los Angeles but cannot decide whether to buy a single family home or a condo.  Each has their pros and cons, so how will you decide.

Single family home:Is it better to buy a condo or a house in Los Angeles?

Pros:

  • Outdoor space if you like to putter around the garden, have a private pool, barbecue, etc.
  • No homeowners dues (unless you live in a gated community or some kind of planned unit development).
  • You are not at the mercy of a board of homeowners (unless the above applies).  If you want to make changes to your property you only have to worry about the city.  If you want a 60 lb dog you don’t need permission.
  • No shared walls and no one above you.
  • Depending on the area you want to live in, affordability will be a factor.  If you want the urban living then a condo is going to me for affordable.
  • The overall investment in a home is better.

Cons:

  • Security will be a bigger issue in a house, especially if you travel a lot.
  • You have the expense and burden of property maintenance- the garden, the roof, driveway, etc.
  • Utilities are going to be higher than in a condo.

Condo:

Pros:

  • Depending on your location, if would like to be in the center of things a condo is going to be a less expensive proposition.
  • You may have amenities that might not be available in a similar priced home like a pool, gym.
  • The only maintenance you are responsible for is your own unit. The homeowners dues you pay in will take care of all the common areas.
  • If you are security conscious then you can find many condo buildings which will address that need.
  • Depending on the amount of your homeowners dues you will probably find your outlay will be less than in a home.  Water is generally included in the dues and you don’t have to worry about a gardener, pool man, etc.
  • If you travel a lot then it is easier to lock and leave a condo than a home without worrying about a break-in or burst pipe.

Cons:

  • Homeowners dues could be a strain on your monthly budget.  The less you pay in dues the less you get in services.  You will need to budget accordingly.
  • The possibility of repairs needed which are out of your control can add an assessment to your dues at any time.
  • If you want to make upgrades to your unit you will probably be at the mercy of the homeowners association from which you will have to seek approval.
  • You will probably share walls or have someone above you, which can be a problem if you are sensitive to noise.
  • Condos are usually the first to drop and the last to rise in a volatile real estate market.
  • It can be more difficult to get a loan on a condo especially if you are looking for an FHA loan.

If you are looking at buying a home in a city like Los Angeles then it would be good to make a list of your wants and needs.  It is basically going to boil down to three things, location, price and budget.  After that narrowing down the search will be a lot easier.

What Can I Afford?
What are the Closing Costs?
How to Read an MLS Listing
What are the Different Listing Statuses?
Understanding the Purchase Agreement
What is Title Insurance?
How to Take Title
Should I Buy a House or a Condo?
What is Escrow?

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