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House or Condo?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Okay, here is the thing. As soon as I start to work fulltime, I want to start saving up for my own place. I have my kids on the weekends and they stay with their father on weekdays(Don't ask, its a long story!)Would it be better for me to buy a condo, instead of a house? What are the advantages of owning a condo? They had one advertised here at school for $84,000. The payments are $545 a month, which is the same as if I were renting. Most apartments here in Salt Lake are about the same price. I am not going to buy this place, but I am jsut thinking about it. I want to research it before I make the final decision.

post #2 of 23
no condo, bad, nooooo! Well, at least in mass, you buy it, your stuck with it. I would rather a house, because you:

1. don't have to deal with people RIGHT next to you /above/below you.

2. you can't have (really) a garden or a yard to speak of that is ALL YOURS.


I'd rather invest my money in a "modest" (aka dump) home, like I did (can you say siding, anyone?) and have a better chance of resale and making some money. I've been in my house for 7 years, just finally got the kitchen done, did the bathroom, just doing some painting. But my value went up 100,000 in 7 years. May not seem like a lot, but your not gonna see a condo go up in value that much. A friend of mine bought a house a year ago and her value is up 50,000!
post #3 of 23
In order to buy any house, is a good credit rating. Start out small, get one card, make small purchases, pay on time, in about 3 or 4 years you will have a good credit rating.In the meantime, you will probably get all kinds of offers for other credit cards, just tear them up. Keep one or two cards but no more than that.

Then just keep a list of what you are looking for in a house. What your needs are, make notes to have the house structurally inspected, pest inspected, and mold and mildew evaluated. Shop around for a good realtor, some are unscrupulous and ask a lot of questions.
post #4 of 23
What hissy said , too....

also, how many kids? That would maybe push me towards a house, too. You'll eventually have to see how much you can pre-qualify for and stuff like that. It's a loooonnnggg drawn out process, but in the end it's worth it!!!! Good Luck!
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hissy, I am divorced. I have bad credit that was together with my exhusband. If I have bad credit, can I still have a credit card?
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
By the way, I have two children.
post #7 of 23
House over condo? I can't agree more! One of the best things about owning your own home is privacy. Another is making your own decisions. If you want to remodel or add on, it's an option; so is gardening. I have never lived in a condo, but many years ago, we lived in an apartment for two months. Never again! I had to schedule washing clothes, I heard marital arguments, and couldn't walk around in a robe if I wanted to. After that we rented a house for a few years and then bought an older house as a starter home. That house appreciated, and we had an entire house as a downpayment on our dream home in only a few years.
post #8 of 23
nena it can be done. My ex ruined my credit too. He maxed out all my credit cards and took all the money out of the bank before he took off. When I finally got my feet back under me, I got a new job and after a few months, I called a creditor and told them what happened and asked them to take a chance on me and issue me another card. I also had $500.00 set aside to pay off this card in a bank account, but I did not tell them this. They took the chance and I made small purchases, paid in time, and my bad credit went away. You can get a secure credit card if you can save the money to put into a secure account for it. But until you get a good credit rating, a house is far beyond your reach.
post #9 of 23

First you need to know exactly what your credit report is reporting about you. If it is not so good, then you can start taking steps to make it better. Once you get that underway and your credit starts to look better, you can work with organizations such as FHA or Fannie Mae. These organizations help people with not so perfect credit or single income households to get approved for a home mortgage loan. There is a lot out there that can help you but it takes a lot of research.

I agree with the others that when you get to the point where you can buy a home, buy a house. It is a much better investment.
post #10 of 23
Always, go with a house. I don't want neighbors thisclosetome. Besides, with a condo, you'll never own the land and that is what's valuable and appreciates. Don't go with planned developments, either: deed restrictions, homeowners' associations. Bill and I bought a renovated, fifty-year-old house. We can paint it any color we want, plant any kind of flowers or shrubs. Some of those places don't, even, allow you to fly the American flag! As long as we aren't maintaining a hazard, its ours, to do what we will with.
post #11 of 23
I agree with what people have said


I have owned a house once and for me it was too much care. At least in Texas, where I can't stand the heat, I had to pay a gardener, and an exterminator, and if we'd had a pool there would have been a pool guy. Plus we got termites, the house was never cool enough in the summer, all the maintenance issues, etc. If you aren't into doing it yourself, you might want to think seriously about that condo. True you do pay a condo fee, but it might be equal to (or less than) what you would have to pay for all those services anyway.

It really depends on what you're looking for. There are benefits either way.
post #12 of 23
My husband and I are (kind of) in the same situation. I had to declare bankruptcy and he just doesn't have any credit at all!! We are working on the credit aspect, but are also considering all our options.

The thing about condos is that it is just like living in an apartment, but you own it. You can decorate the inside how you want, but if your neighbors really piss you off you can't do anything except call the cops. Some of the maintenance that you call on now will be all you. I don't know what your financial situation is as far as how much you could pay for a mortgage, but you will be surprised how little of a new house it pays for. Like Katl8b said, the homeowner's associations can be downright intrusive! Older houses cost much less, but be sure to do your homework on it to make sure there isn't maintenance that has been neglected or big repairs that you will need to make. Have you considered townhomes? At lease here in the Denver market they seem to be the best of both worlds for a first time buyer. They are more on the price range of condos, but without upstairs/downstairs neighbors. They do appreciate with the market, albeit not at exactly the same rate as houses because you don't own much land, but you do own the footprint.

Anyway, that's what we have found. Hope this helps!
post #13 of 23
My mom owned her own homes for many years. Seven years ago, she bought a condo, and loves it!

Condo Pros:
- Grounds are maintained for you (grass mowing, snow plowing, landscaping, etc)

- Exterior building is maintained for you (roof, siding/clapboards, steps, decks, etc.

- Most condos are VERY soundproof.

- Condos have great resale value in today's market, particuarly if in a good area and/or if on/near water.

Bascially, if you're NOT a handy person and don't feel like having to spend money on repairs and groundskeeping, go condo. Avoid over/under condos--always try to get a top and bottom condo, not one where someone is above or beneath you.

Condo cons:
- Condo fees can get high.

- Need permission from the condo association to plant a tree or do anything that alters the uniformity of the community.

- Need to make sure your condo fees are being utilized appropriately, and not being squandered or even stolen by those in charge.

- Common areas mean ANYONE can choose to have a picnic on the lawn right outside your living room window. My mom's never had that problem, because people have common sense and common courtesy.

My mom's done everything she's ever wanted to "her" piece of common area. Built a massive deck with automatic canopy, planted 30 bushes for privacy, erected large bird feeding stations, etc. If done tastefully (and provided your neighbors aren't jerks) condo associations give you enough leeway to be happy.

House pros:
- Everything

House cons:
- Everything
post #14 of 23
I would if you can, get a house. We looked at a townhouse before we bought our house, & are glad we bought a house instead. I don't think I'd like to live right next door to someone. I've heard from people who own townhouses/condos that sometimes you can hear your neighbors. Also, you don't have your own backyard, and I believe you pay association fees? We pay a HOA, though That is the only thing I dislike about our house .... Sometimes, the HOA are so concerned about petty things such as weeds growing in your yard, if your garbage can isn't put away within a day or two .... The one thing cool about townhouses is that they are 2-3 stories, which is the only good thing. I wish we had a 2-story house.
post #15 of 23
The house or condo thing is really a matter of personal preference. If you don't want to take care of a yard, maybe a townhouse or condo is a better choice. My question is $84,000 is only a $545 a month payment? That may be just principal and interest. By the time a few extra costs, like title insurance, get added in. My mortgage is for 72,000 and I pay 605 a month. Make sure that is the total monthly payment.

I looked at both townhouses and regular houses. I was adamant on having a garage, so I ended up finding a house that met my needs.

Also, if your credit isn't so great, FHA does finance first time buyers with not-exactly-perfect credit. Look into it.
post #16 of 23
Hubby and I just bought a condo in December and we love it! Our condo is in a really nice neighborhood and all of our neighbors are nice too, so we don't have any problems. And like Cryogenix said, they are VERY soundproof. Now that I think about it, I haven't heard ANYTHING coming from any of my neighbors. We live on the top floor (2nd floor). As far as buying a house or condo, its really up to you. Look around and see what you can get for the type of credit you have and also look if there are realtor companies that can help you. Also, if this is the first time you are buying a home/condo, you can get the first home buyers mortgage. We got that and it really helped out. If you can get a house for about the same price as a condo, the I would get a house b/c you can do whatever you want to it. Another note on condos-the assesment fee isn't that bad because it covers alot if things. Our assesment fee also covers heat and water, so that saves us alot of money in itself. The only downside like others have said, is that condos don't really go up as much as houses do. Although, if you get a good one in a nice neighborhood, then you might have the price go up just as good as a house. All of the condos in our area are very popular and they usually sell within a week. Let us know what happens.
post #17 of 23
Not to scare you off, but when we were in the process of buying our house (we had ours built), they were a PITA to us! They were so rude to use, too. I was 19 at the time, and was working for various temp agencies. At one point, the *itchy loan processeor had told my husband (well, boyfriend at time) that if I had had a full-time, stable job, then we wouldn't have had all of the problems that we did! They also asked for my college transcripts because they wanted to know why I was working part-time sometimes. They also made us pay off every single bill that we had, and wanted to know how we had gotten a few thousand dollars in our savings account (it was from our recetion).

Once it was all finished, though.... it was really nice! Although, I don't think the necessary grief was needed .........
post #18 of 23
I live in a condo and love it. The condo I live in you do own the land it is called a PUD. I never hear the neighbors. My maintenance fee is $30 a month. This covers mowing the grass once a week, mulching once a year, and lightbulbs for the street lights. I can do anything I want to the inside of the condo, because I own it. Because I own the land I can plant anything. I have a good size backyard and a small front yard--enough for just me. I had to consider that I was by myself, middled age (which means I plant to live here hopefully for the rest of my life) so if I bought a house would I be able to maintain it as I got older. There are lots of things to look at. Good luck.
post #19 of 23
Everyone here has made valid points, Nena. If you aren't into the yard work and maintenance aspects then definitly opt for the condo. But if you like doing that sort of stuff and don't mind it then perhaps a house would suit your needs better.

We own a home, with a nice piece of land. But there is a lot of work to keep up with the upkeep, the yard, the outside maintenance, and all the little things that come up.

I think that $545 is probably just principal and interest and probably excludes any other fees. You should check into it very carefully before you make a decision.
post #20 of 23
Thinking of Tigger's post above . . .

I used to know someone who was a mortgage broker. He was kind of a freelance mortgage officer, because he didn't work for a particular bank or mortgage company. He was able to match people to loans for their personal situation. You might want to call around mortgage offices in the yellow pages and see if you can find someone like that. You could ask which institutions they do business with, so if it's only one bank they'd pretty much say that.

I know that total debt load is a factor in getting a loan, too. Your mortgage can only be a certain percentage of your income (25% or 30%, something like that) but if you have a high unsecured debt load the lender will ask you to pay off a large part of that before they sign the note. If you are barely squeaking by, it doesn't help either of you to be paying a mortgage too. Plus you can't have been in arrears on anything within a certain amount of time (90 days to a year depending on the company). A mortgage broker will be able to look over your finances and advise you about that. And you shouldn't have to pay up front for the office visit, there are fees and commissions paid as part of the mortgage that will cover it. You will have to pay for a copy of your credit report and for any other expenses the broker has in order to process your application.

Best of all is to get a recommendation from a friend who has worked successfully with someone.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your input. I guess I will save up for a house. I think when I start my fulltime employment, I will get a secured visa. Just one so that my credit ratings can be good. I do like to plant and maintain my yard and I want a house with a fence surrounding it and a garage. I kind of want an small, older version type that I can fix up with the help of my friends here in Utah.
post #22 of 23
Good luck Nena! Let us know how everything turns out.
post #23 of 23
It really depends on the housing market in your location whether a condo will appreciate in value or not. I totally disagree with the people who said that without land a property will not gain value. My husband and I bought a new condo two years ago and it has gained $40K in value, about 30%; of course we are in a housing boom here.

Again depending on where you buy a house, your neighbours might be thisclosetoyou anyway. That is one of the things that made me want this condo; I wasn't willing to pay an extra $50K to have my neighbours be just 6 feet further away. In the city, they build houses so close together that they don't even bother to put windows on the sides of the houses because you'd just be looking directly into your neighbour's siding. We don't have a yard, but we do have two balconies, one with a full suite of patio furniture and flower boxes, and the other dedicated to my vegetable garden.

Yes, we pay condo fees, but we don't mow the lawn, plow the snow or salt the walks. Neither do we pay to paint the exterior or replace the roof or windows.

Just another view...
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