Buying a home is most likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Even if you are an experienced condominium owner, the experience of buying your first single-family home will be an exciting and possibly challenging time. If you’ve spent the last however many years living with shared walls and homeowners’ associations, there are some things to keep in mind when buying your first stand-alone home. Whether they are good, bad, or somewhere in-between depends on personal perspective.
A single-family home will be more likely to have extra room for a home office that doesn’t include the kitchen sink.
If your family is expanding, you’ll find more space in a regular house. Whether you are expecting or planning to have children down the road, have elderly parents in need of assistance, or an out-of-town cousin who prefers your family to his, providing space for these special people in your life would be more challenging in a condominium.
Does your puzzle habit or quilting hobby make it impossible to use your dining room? (Do you have a dining room?) The right stand-alone home will have an extra room or basement space to accommodate your in-house activities.
Closets. There will be closets. Enough said.
If you are tired of going to Aunt Edna’s for the holidays, a single-family home is more likely to provide you the space you need to host gatherings for family and friends. Plus, the potential for a combination of indoor and outdoor space that flow from one to the other will make it even easier to host a Bull’s playoff party.
Speaking of outdoor space, most homes will offer a patch of grass if not a proper yard. While condo owners purchase only the living space inside their unit, homeowners purchase the home and the land around it. There might possibly be space for a vegetable garden, barbeque, and recreational opportunities as well. Fido and the little ones will be able to go outside and play without taking an elevator ride or worrying about annoying the neighbors in a shared space.
And don’t forget parking – you won’t have to pay for a parking space or spaces. Most homes have at least a driveway if not also a garage. Your beloved car or motorcycle can rest safely on your own property. If you plan it well, you might even find a property with room for a boat or other toys. Plus, a garage provides even more storage space!
You will not have to endure elevator rides during which you are forced to make small talk with your neighbors.
Your mail is delivered directly to you – no more walks to the mail room.
There is better potential for more separation between your own living spaces and bedrooms.
You will not have to share walls, ceilings, or floors with anyone but your own family members. You can all stomp around, let Fido bark his heart out, and play loud music until all hours of the morning. (Of course, if you are the quiet type, you can escape all of those behaviors you endured from your neighbors in your condo.)
Compared to condominium complexes, stand-alone homes often offer a more secluded setting.
Your location is less likely to be amongst shops, restaurants, and public transportation.
There will be fewer people and cars in your surrounding space than in a condo complex.
Maintenance and the Great Outdoors
You are responsible for all of the outdoor care and maintenance of your single-family home.
You can buy a home where you do not have to pay a homeowners’ association fee and things may balance out financially to be able to splurge for hiring out some of the regular maintenance.
You’ll need to practice preventative maintenance. Find an HVAC professional to regularly inspect your system before there is an emergency. Consider hiring a lawn and landscaping service every now and then to take a look at your sprinkler system or inspect the trees on your property for potential disease or insect infestation. Owning your own home does make it easier to be proactive where long-term costs are concerned.
Utilities are fully your responsibility in a stand-alone home. If your lawn depends on a sprinkler system to stay green, you may have a higher water bill or want to consider converting to a more natural landscape. The good news is that there may be the opportunity to shop around for the best deal on services like garbage and recycling.
All decisions made about the home and property are yours and yours alone. There are no committees or discussion groups. If you want to paint your house blue and orange, so be it. If you enjoy decorating for the holidays and want to turn your front yard into the North Pole, have at it. Plus, you’ll have more space than you did in your condo to store all of those new decorations. There will be fewer pet restrictions per the village or town in which you live than in most condominium homeowners’ associations.
Property taxes will most likely be higher as you will own land in addition to the home.
Single-family homes do tend to be priced higher but when comparing, remember to account for the fees over which you currently have no control such as parking, home owner’s association, special project fees, etc.
Consider, financially, that you will need to buy “things” – a lawnmower, hoses, rakes, snow shovels, window treatments, probably more furniture.
Taking a long vacation is a bit more complicated in a single-family home than the condo practice of locking the door and leaving for a month. Don’t forget to hire a house-sitter and/or lawn guy (snow plower) if you’ll be out of town for an extended period of time.
Whatever the reason prompting you to leave condominium living behind in search of a family home, I am excited to help you on your quest. Contact me today to learn more and see listings in your target area.