The easiest way to understand the idea of condominium ownership is to see it as an apartment you own. In addition, you are a partner, with all the other owners in the complex, of the exterior structure  – the land,  foundation, exterior walls and roof – as well as any common areas and amenities – such as hallways, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, play areas, etc.

The condominium’s common elements are owned by a corporation called a homeowners association (HOA), which manages the condominium through a board of directors elected by the membership. All homeowners pay a monthly fee to the HOA which covers general repairs and maintenance to the common areas of the complex, as well as building a cash reserve for future needs. In general, all exterior maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the condominium association.  Normal day-to-day maintenance of the grounds, such as cutting the grass and shoveling snow, are also the responsibility of the association. Interior maintenance and repairs within the unit are the responsibility of the individual owner.

While condominium living isn’t for everyone, there are some advantages to this type of housing.  

  • Affordability – While condominiums have a wide price range, the lower range is often within the budget of first-time buyers and singles who may find single-family houses unaffordable. 
  • Low Maintenace – No more backaches from mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Condo living means someone else takes care of the plumbing problems or roof maintenance for you.
  • Security – Having neighbors around makes it a lot easier to lock up and leave for a vacation or an extended period of time. Also, condominium buildings often have security features, be they buzzers or a guard service. This is particularly helpful if this is your second home, and you are only there for part of the year.
  • Location – There is often a high concentration of condominiums in downtown locations where land is at a premium. If you want to be in the heart of the city, a condominium may be a good choice.
  • Amenities – Most condominium developments offer a range of amenities in the common areas. This means that you may have access to a swimming pool, gym or tennis courts that you would not be able to afford on your own.