Pros and cons of condos vs. homes

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Many times when working with a client we start out looking for condos and end up purchasing a home or vice versa. There are many differences between owning a home and a condo, and it’s important to know them before making your decision.

A condo unburdens you of the direct responsibility of intensive maintenance. Many things like lawn care, snow removal, garbage removal and exterior maintenance are usually taken care of by an association. On the other hand, you pay for these conveniences in monthly association dues.

There are other convenience to owning a condo aside from maintenance issues. Some buildings have amenities such as private gyms or workout rooms, conference rooms, tennis courts, and even pools for owners to use.

And condos are generally less expensive than homes with similar square footage. Often you can purchase a condo in an area where you would not be able to afford a home. And it’s generally easier to rent out a condo than a home as an alternative to selling it.

A potential negative associated with condo ownership are the bylaws set by the association, which each condo owner must abide by. These are the rules you’re going to have to abide by and the people you’re going to have to deal with from now on. So be sure to research both the bylaws and the association carefully before signing on the dotted line.

While you’re doing your due diligence, be sure to check for any upcoming “special assessments” for things like window and roof replacement, asphalt repaving, and elevator and balcony repair. These can add substantially to your bottom line.

By-laws are the rules set by the owners with the do’s and don’ts of each unit owner for the protection of the entire building! One thing to always look into with condos purchases is the reserve account and if any “special assessment” budgeted for the future. These “specials” could be for items such as: new windows, roof, elevator, parking repaving, and balcony repairs.

On the flip side, if you purchase a home, all maintenance is up you.

Purchasing a home comes with its own set of pros and cons. If you own your own single-family home, all the maintenance, inside and out, is up to you. You’ll have to do those yourself, which require expertise and time, or hire a professional, which can be costly.

Unless you have a good inspection done at the time you purchased your home, and contractually oblige the seller to fix existing problems first, you could be overwhelmed with undiscovered repair and replacement problems that could turn your dream home into a money pit.

On the plus side, if you own a single-family home, you own “dirt” and you call all the shots. You can plant a garden, paint you house whatever color you want and have a yard in which your kids can safely play.

Whichever way you go, homeownership in today’s market is a positive for you. With rates at 40-year low and property values on their way up, ownership stacks up very favorably compared to renting. And you’ll be able to call the place you live yours!

Feel free to e-mail me with questions at For more about my company, visit

About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as village trustee of Harwood Heights and corporate secretary for Casa Italia. In 2011, he received the IANU Foundation's 2011 David Award for outstanding promise in the field of real estate, and in 2012 he was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission for his community outreach. Constantly seeking opportunities to give back, he donates to several charities and raises money for children with disabilities.

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