The Million-Dollar Question: “Should I buy a home or a condo?”

This is probably the number one question family, friends and clients ask us here at Property Guide.

At some point in most peoples’ lives the home-ownership urge starts creeping in, until suddenly, the itch can be denied no longer! The idea of having to ask for permission to change a carpet, paint a wall or fix a leaky faucet becomes unbearable – After all, there’s a reason the (sexist) expression “A man’s home is his castle” has been around for so long…

But in order for us to help answer your question, there are many factors YOU as the buyer have to consider and a little introspection is required:

What is your budget? Homes in Toronto, especially in the downtown area are now starting north of $600,000- and this for a property most likely in need of significant upgrading and improvements. If this number scares you, you’re already being pushed into the condo market.

What’s your lifestyle, friend? International jet-setter or stay-at-home hobbyist? Do you have a green thumb and enjoy wielding a lawn mower, weed-whacker and snow-blower? Do you even own a shovel? If not, perhaps the minimal “hands-on” of condo-life is more up your alley. Then again, a home is a lot more “customizable” than a condo, and having neighbors above, below and all around is not for everyone. Besides, where are you going to keep your Great Dane? Your snowmobile? The triplets? And where’s the band gonna practice? You definitely need your own house – with a soundproof garage!

Location – City or suburbs? Highways vs bus routes? Community centre or neighbourhood watering hole? The choice is yours, all you have to do is choose between your work, your friends, family, schools, pubs…etc. No problem!

Costs – At first glance, a monthly maintenance fee on top of your mortgage payments can seem rather unpalatable – after all, how many times are you really going to use that party room? – but look a little deeper and you’ll realize that the reserve fund you’re contributing to is there to handle everything from replacing leaky windows, to creaky elevators and ripped wallpaper…Suddenly $500/month doesn’t look so bad – especially when one considers that re-shingling a roof on a 3 bedroom home can easily run you $6000-$7000 dollars – and what about buying the aforementioned snowblower, or installing a garage-door opener, or building that deck you’ve wanted for so long? So much to consider…

So there you have it, hopefully this checklist has helped give you a better general idea of the pros and cons of home vs condo ownership. Of course we’re just scratching the surface here, and while it’s still possible to buy a small bungalow or semi-detached in a not yet gentrified neighbourhood for $500,000, it’s just as easy to find hundreds of two-bedroom condo units in the $800,000 price range. Investment potential, upgrades, renovations and additions then also enter the conversation, as well as a discussion of where you see yourself in 2, 5, and possibly ten years. Married with children? Retired? Running your own yoga retreat in the Costa Rican rainforest?

Don’t sweat it though – this is why you called us to work with you!