What Is A Condominium? Here’s What To Know About The Residential Properties

Condominiums in Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida, United States [SHUTTERSTOCK, ddmirt]

When it comes to residential properties, there are a number of options on the market. If you’re looking to upgrade from an apartment but worry a single-family home could be more than you need, a condominium — or condo — could be an option.

What is a condominium?

A condominium is a residential or mixed-use building with several housing units on different floors. People co-inhabit and have access to common areas.

These shared spaces depend on a building’s featured amenities such as a swimming pool, gym or retail shops.

People have lived in condominium buildings in Europe as early as the end of the Middle Ages. In the U.S., the existence of condominiums is said to have begun in Salt Lake City.

Some experts, though, believe that condominiums have existed in the U.S. since the mid-19th century.

Condominium buildings have been a common sight in crowded, urban areas. A scarce supply of developable land often influences a condominium’s sale price, especially for luxury properties.

In Hong Kong, for instance, a luxury condominium with three bedrooms and two bathrooms may cost over US $3.4 million. The price costs more per square foot than a similar property in New York City.

What is the difference between an apartment and a condominium?

Buyers can check if a building is an apartment or condominium by determining its ownership.

Real estate developers often own condominium buildings and sell units to individual buyers. Owners may then live inside their units or rent out the property to a tenant.

The ownership situation is different for an apartment building because it may be owned by an individual landlord.

The apartment owner leases the units of their building to different tenants. Some landlords also choose to hire property managers to oversee their apartments.

If you need a temporary residence, then an apartment is a better choice. Otherwise, a condominium is the right option for those who have no plans of changing addresses for years.

What are the pros and cons of condominiums?

Most condominiums cost less than single-family homes. The sale price is one of the biggest, if not the most attractive, advantages for buyers.

Condominium owners also enjoy fewer responsibilities for maintenance and repair. Some properties have a dedicated in-house staff for the buildings’ upkeep.

A condominium building’s shared amenities also mean that residents don’t need to travel far for entertainment or leisure.

In terms of drawbacks, some condominiums only sell the leasehold ownership of units. This means that owners have no exclusive rights to the property’s freehold aspect.

Condominium residents also need to abide by the rules and regulations of the condominium association.

For example, owners may not be allowed to take care of pets inside their units. They may also need permission every time they want to invite guests.

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Randolf Santos has covered different segments of the real estate industry since 2014. He worked at S&P Global Market Intelligence before joining Forbes Global Properties as a contributor.

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