Condo Living: Pros and Cons
From new construction to the adaptive reuse of commercial properties and rowhouses throughout the City, there has never been a better time to consider condo living. We want to give you an overview of the condo market to help you decide if it is right for you.
While the availability of single-family homes has never been lower and prices have never been higher, the opposite is true regarding condos. Philadelphia condo prices fell by 0.6% over the last year while house prices rose by 12.8%. Unlike single-family homes, condo inventories are not unusually low. If anything, availability is up in all neighborhoods.
“We are currently showing a condo at 1233-35 Bainbridge, in Bella Vista. “It’s an excellent value in a trending neighborhood,” said Deborah Solo. “We just lowered the price from $725K to $699K on a beautiful 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom, bi-level Penthouse with two outdoor terraces and incredible views.
If you have been renting and are a first-time buyer, condo living offers many advantages. It is also an attractive option for older home owners wishing to downsize or move from the suburbs into the City.
Condos can be more convenient in terms of location, eliminating your commute, putting you closer to work, social life and cultural activities. They free you from the maintenance that comes with home ownership. Some also provide a fitness room, swimming pool, and assigned parking. While rentals limit your ability to make structural changes, condos offer more flexibility.
As a condo owner, you’re sitting on an asset that’s growing in value each year. When you sell, you’ll likely make more than you spent. Meanwhile, buying a condo establishes ownership and builds credit.
“I think the main advantage to a condo is that you would have less direct maintenance compared to a single home,” said Solo agent Alex Franqui.
“Condos are pretty challenging right now,” said Franqui. “People want more space and private outdoor space and that’s typically not something you can find in a condo.”
When you add up the cost to buy and the cost to sell a condo, the property will have to appreciate about 10 percent to break even. Buying a condo is only recommended if you plan to live in it for at least 3-5 years.
Condo Home Owner Association (HOA) rules can regulate everything from trash pickup to what can be stored on your patio, how many pets you can have, and whether you can rent out your unit. Breaking the rules can result in fines or even foreclosure. And HOA monthly fees tend to go up. On the other hand, Condo Home Owner Association (HOA) fees help cover the cost of maintenance and amenities.
Do Your Homework
- Research HOA fees and what they cover like insurance and grounds maintenance. Communities with luxury amenities such as doormen, high-end fitness centers, or pools may have higher fees.
- Ask for the condo’s financials. Are they well funded? You’ll want to make sure that if someone misses an association payment or two, it won’t impact maintenance and coverage on the entire property.
- Review the rules which may restrict conducting business in the units, subletting, or the number and size of pets.
- Explore the neighborhood on foot. How far away is the nearest grocery, pharmacy, or café? Check the level of street noise.
- Hire an experienced realtor who knows the neighborhood and the property. If your realtor has helped others buy a condo in the property you’re considering, they’ll know the ins and outs of the HOA. Purchase agreements for condos can be more complicated than single homes.
* Update 6/7/21 – 1233-35 Bainbridge Street PH4 – $699K is now under contract*