This intense sellers market can be particularly tough on first-time home buyers. Many of you want to start building equity by buying your first house, but you're experiencing fierce competition for a single family home. Choosing a condo may afford less competition and they make a great place to start building equity. They're available in an array of styles - from townhomes to stacked (apartment style) and in every location imaginable (starting in the heart of downtown and out to the suburbs). A few key things to know about condos before you dive in:
Condos are managed by HOAs (Homeowners Associations.) The general rule of thumb is that you own from the drywall in, and they own from the drywall out. There will be rules on what you are allowed to do, both outside and sometimes inside the condo space. The HOA dues usually takes care of outside maintenance (roof, siding, grounds, etc.) as well as shared amenities like a workout room, pool, clubhouse, etc.
Beyond your mortgage you will be responsible for some amount of recurring HOA fee, often monthly but sometimes yearly. The fees can range significantly depending on the community and amenities provided. Some HOAs cover grounds maintenance, others will cover water, sewer, trash, and more. You'll want to factor these HOA fees into your budget to make sure you are comfortable with the full cost.