First Person: The Advantages of Buying a Condo

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When I look back on my decision to sell my condo, I realize I narrowly escaped a major economic disaster in my life. That's because I sold my condo before the housing collapse. According to a recent article by Kiplinger, the condo market is making a comeback.

Evidently the value of many condo properties fell 41 percent on average from the market's high point in 2006. I sold my condo toward the end of 2004, which translated into a small profit.

While the value of my former condo rose between 2004 and 2006, not everyone got out. Even if the value of my condo had not plummeted due to the housing crash, I still don't think a condo would work for me. However, for some people buying a condo could be a wise financial move. In certain situations, I'd be the market for a condo myself.

Paying cash for a home

For people who want to purchase a home with cash, a condo is attractive. If I was a renter with only a limited amount of cash, I'd consider a condo. Without a mortgage payment, I'd only need to worry about taxes and insurance as well as various home owners' association fees. That would free up my cash flow every month.

Enjoying the maintenance-free lifestyle

Even though I had to pay maintenance fees as a condo owner, it was worth it. I didn't have to deal with the snakes and other wildlife in Florida. Yet, I could enjoy the attractively landscaped flower beds, pruned pushes and palm trees. In many cases, the cost of hiring a lawn service is more expensive than what I paid for my condo fees.

Taking advantage of amenities

I remember other advantages to being a condo owner. For example, my cable, water and garbage pickup was all included in the feeds. I pay more now for those services as the owner of a single family home. Other amenities included the clubhouse, swimming pool and fitness club located within the master-planned community.

Getting a good deal

I was able to get a great deal with a new construction condo. The builder offered upgraded cabinetry as well as free appliances. The key was buying a condo during a buyer's market as opposed to a seller's market. However, I learned that I needed my own buyer's agent to help me navigate the negotiation of the new construction condo. After talking to neighbors, I discovered other people negotiated even better deals. A buyer's agent could have worked on my behalf.

Condos appeal to first-time home buyers as well as retired people and families. My sons always had plenty of friends to play with when we lived in a condo. And, I liked having other people around for socializing. While I wouldn't trade my single-family home for a condo, I'd consider it as an empty-nester one day. It would all depend on the housing market and whether I could find deals as good as they are today.

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