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Condo vs Single Family Home? Best Ways to Decide

Condo vs House-shutterstock-127730612-emailed-6x6You are a first-time buyer (or you are downsizing) and want to move to McLean, VA, or a nearby community.  You ask, “What should I buy, a condo or a house?”  This is a recurring question.  And here are some thoughts on the subject:

  1. Of course a house is more valuable than a condo, and a townhouse somewhere in between.  So, for down the road, a house would be a better bet for re-sale.  Unless it’s a condo in Arlington along the metro line compared to a house in Falls Church or Ashburn (the farther you are from DC, certainly the more you get for your money).  Ashburn will be on the metro line, but that won’t be for another ten years or so.  Arlington in proximity to the metro is some of the most valuable real estate in the Washington, DC, area and it held its value very well during the recession of the past five years. If fact, people who bought in that market have already seen an increase in their property value.
  2. How much time do you really want to put into maintenance of the property?  If you have expendable income and are willing to pay for lawn service, you are on track for a house.  But a house requires so much more maintenance that just the lawn.  How about gutters, driveway sealing, tree work, etc.? I don’t want to scare you away from a house, but you have to have the stomach to deal with more repairs in a house than in a condo.
  3. Can you pay the condo fee without pulling your hair out every month when that check comes due?  Whether you can afford it or not, some people resent this fee, even though the condo association may earn its money.  (Home owners association fees, where they exist, are much less.)
  4. Do you love the amenities of a condo and aren’t willing to give them up — workout room, front-desk support, pool and rooftop deck?
  5. Here’s the kicker:  Are you sensitive to N-O-I-S-E?  Know this before you move into a condo, because that can be an issue for some people with folks living on a floor above them.  In this case, sometimes even a townhouse isn’t right for you.
  6. Do you yearn for the privacy of a backyard patio or deck?  This is one perk of a house that some people can’t give up.
  7. Must you have a dog?  And if so, are you willing to take the dog out for an evening walk, even in miserable weather?  Only you can answer that questions for yourself.
  8. Are you planning on growing your family?  It’s a house for you, maybe not right now, but certainly down the road. In this case, if you prefer a condo now, buy it and try to hold on to it when you buy a single family home.
  9. Do you love being close enough to shops and restaurants that you don’t need a car to get to them?  A condo is probably your best bet.  There are some neighborhoods with single family homes very near shops and services, but they get pretty pricey.
  10. Do you have a large family or do you want to have big parties and lots of street parking for all your guests?  This is a sure way to decide once and for all that you need a detached home.

If you are interested in moving to McLean or to a nearby community, and are interested in exploring condos and houses, please call us at 703-628-9360.


About The Author

Mafalda Marrocco