Condos vs. Houses: 5 Things Millennials and Boomers Should Know

The condos vs. houses debate is often strongest among Millennials and Baby Boomers.

For Millennials just starting out, saving up for a down payment and getting qualified for a loan can be a big financial leap.

For many Baby Boomers, downsizing from a large home into a condo is appealing. The responsibilities that come with a single-family home can get to feel too burdensome when you enter your 60s or later.

Buying a condo can see like the solution for both demographics. You get many of the same benefits of owning a single-family home. You can build equity and benefit from the tax incentive that comes with home ownership as well as the stability that homeownership provides.

But there are rules to follow in a condo that you wouldn’t face with a single-family home. Here are the top 5 things Boomers and Millennials alike should know before buying a condo.

1. Your hardwood floors will need to be (partially) covered. Hardwood floors can add a beautiful, sophisticated—and noisy—touch to a condo.That’s why many condo developments require owners to cover at least 80 percent of their floors.Of course, the floor inspector doesn’t do monthly rounds to see if your floors are carpeted. But if you live above or below someone who is sensitive to noise, you can be certain they’ll complain and the rule will be enforced.

2. Don’t even think about using your parking space for storage. Many condo units come with at least one dedicated parking space, often in a garage (especially for urban condo buildings). As a condo owner, you own that dedicated parking space, even if you don’t have a car. That doesn’t mean that carless condo owners can use the otherwise unused parking space for storage as a workspace. Imagine a garage full of beach chairs, bikes, storage containers, gas grills and garbage. It’s neither pretty nor orderly. For this reason, the rule exists.

3. You’d better be quiet after 10 p.m. Most condo rules specify that between certain hours (generally 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.), occupants must not interfere with other owners’ quiet enjoyment. This rule is frequently enforced and is likely music to the ears of a Boomer concerned with leaving their private, quiet, single-family home for community living. For a Millennial who is still within striking distance of their party years and the noise that comes with it, this is a big consideration.

4. Be prepared to kiss Fido goodbye. Many condo buildings have pet restrictions. In some places, it’s not legal to completely outlaw pets. Even so, restrictions regarding the type and number of pets will exist in any condo development. Know the restrictions before you get too involved to avoid the pain of sending Fido off to live with relatives.

5. You may not be able to rent your condo. Many condo boards have restrictions on the number of rentals allowed in the building. Having too high a percentage of renters makes it harder for new buyers to get a loan. In addition, homeowners believe that owners who are present have more of a vested interest in caring for the building than a tenant, who has much less at stake. And if you’re hoping to make extra cash with short-term rentals via Airbnb or VRBO, better check your condo’s rules and restrictions first, as some forbid such rentals.

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