The keys to home ownership

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The summer is the height of the real estate market.

If you’re looking for a place the good news is that there’s lots of inventory available. Savvy realtors push sellers to list their properties during the warmer months when it’s more convenient for buyers to move. The not-so-good news is prices tend to be higher, and bidding is a lot more competitive. If you’re a buyer that means you may lose out on prime locations because it’s over your budget. There are a few ways to combat this dilemma. One is to wait until the market chills out in the winter months—and there’s less competition. The other is to broaden your horizons to consider options besides single-family houses, namely condominiums (condos) and cooperatives (co-ops).

You’ve likely been in both types of properties and not even realized it—have you ever heard someone mention their property’s “board’? Condos are individual units of property, bought and sold like single-family homes, that are governed by tenant board. They can come in many forms, such as apartments or townhouses, and have monthly common charges that are used to maintain community areas. On the other hand, co-ops aren’t technically “owned” by an individual. They’re owned by a corporation and governed by a board. When you buy a co-op you are purchasing shares of the building, based on the square footage of your space, and pay monthly maintenance fees accordingly. The big difference between condos and co-ops is autonomy. Generally speaking, condo owners have the freedom to make changes to their unit as they see fit. Co-op owners have to consult with the board about various issues, from structural updates to occupancy ratios.

There are challenges and advantages when it comes to ownership of every property type. If the housing market in your city is tight, you may want to broaden your horizons and consider a condo or co-op instead. Here’s why.

Starter Home

Many first time home buyers aren’t looking for their “forever home” but realize it’s time to get out of the rental market—and receive tax breaks. Condos and co-ops offer an easier transition for first-time homeowners because they don’t have the responsibilities of maintaining the property grounds or dealing with big issues (roof, electricity or plumbing) on their own.

Community Vibe

If you liked dormitory style living condos and co-ops are great for you. While you’ll have the privacy you need in your own unit, your building, or community’s, common areas are a great way to stay connected with your neighbors and be part of a tribe. There’s also a collective sense of responsibility since all owners have a financial stake in the property.

Investment Property

When it’s time for owners to move on up and out, condos and co-ops are easy money makers. In many rental markets, apartments and townhouses are more attractive than single-family homes because they come with the least amount of responsibility, which is exactly what most renters are looking for! Owners also get out of having to handle many maintenance issues, like shoveling snow, since they are covered by monthly fees.