What is a Condo?

Types of Condos and Ownership Structures

Condos come in different types and ownership structures, which affect the way owners use and manage the property. Here are some common types of condos:

  1. High-rise Condos – These are multi-unit buildings with ten or more floors, often located in urban areas. High-rise condos offer spectacular views and amenities such as fitness centers, pools, and 24-hour security.

  2. Low-rise Condos – These are usually smaller buildings with fewer floors, often located in suburban areas. Low-rise condos offer a more intimate living environment and may have amenities such as a clubhouse or outdoor space.

  3. Townhouses – These are multi-level homes that share walls with neighboring units, often with their own entrance and garage. Townhouses offer more privacy and space than traditional condos, and may have their own yard or outdoor space.

  4. Converted Buildings – These are buildings that were originally built for another purpose, such as a school or factory, and have been converted into residential condos. Converted buildings offer unique features and character, but may have limitations on layout and functionality.

In terms of ownership structures, there are two main types of condos:

  1. Condominiums – In this type of ownership, each owner has title to their unit and shares ownership of the common areas, such as the building’s exterior, lobby, and amenities.

  2. Co-ops – In this type of ownership, residents own shares in the corporation that owns the building, rather than owning their individual units. Co-ops often have stricter rules and regulations than condos, and require approval from the co-op board to buy or sell a unit.

Understanding the different types of condos and ownership structures can help you choose the right type of property for your lifestyle and financial goals.

Pros and Cons of Living in a Condo

Living in a condo has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider both before deciding to buy or rent a condo. Here are some pros and cons of living in a condo:


  1. Amenities – Many condos offer amenities such as a fitness center, pool, or community space that are included in the monthly fees, which can be a great value compared to paying for these amenities separately.
  2. Maintenance – Condo associations are responsible for maintaining the building’s exterior and common areas, which means residents don’t have to worry about tasks such as shoveling snow or repairing the roof.
  3. Security – Many condos have security measures such as a doorman or security cameras, which can provide peace of mind for residents.
  4. Community – Living in a condo can provide a sense of community and social opportunities through shared amenities and events.


  1. Fees – Condo fees can be expensive and can increase over time, which can strain your budget. It’s important to understand what the fees cover and what additional expenses you may be responsible for.
  2. Rules and Restrictions – Condo associations often have rules and restrictions regarding pets, noise, and use of common areas, which can limit your freedom and flexibility.
  3. Shared Spaces – Living in a condo means sharing common areas with other residents, which can lead to conflicts and disagreements over issues such as noise or cleanliness.
  4. Resale Value – Condos may not appreciate in value as quickly as single-family homes, and may be harder to sell in a slow real estate market.

Overall, living in a condo can be a great option for those who want low-maintenance living and access to amenities and a sense of community. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and understand the financial and lifestyle implications before making a decision.

How to Buy and Finance a Condo

Buying and financing a condo can be a bit different than buying a single-family home, so it’s important to understand the process and requirements. Here are some steps to follow when buying and financing a condo:

  1. Find a Real Estate Agent – A real estate agent who is familiar with the condo market can help you find properties that meet your criteria and navigate the buying process.

  2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage – Before you start shopping for condos, it’s important to know how much you can afford and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Keep in mind that lenders may have stricter requirements for condo mortgages than for single-family homes.

  3. Research Condo Associations – Before you make an offer on a condo, research the condo association to ensure that it’s financially stable and has reasonable fees and rules.

  4. Review the Condo Documents – When you make an offer on a condo, you’ll receive a set of documents that outline the rules, regulations, and financial status of the condo association. It’s important to review these documents carefully to understand what you’re buying into.

  5. Get a Home Inspection – Just like with a single-family home, it’s important to get a home inspection to identify any potential issues or defects with the condo unit.

  6. Close on the Condo – Once your offer is accepted and all contingencies are met, you’ll close on the condo and take ownership.

In terms of financing, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Condo Financing Requirements – Lenders may require a larger down payment, higher credit score, and more documentation for condo mortgages than for single-family homes.

  2. FHA-Approved Condos – If you’re using an FHA loan to finance your condo, the condo must be on the FHA-approved list, which means it meets certain standards for financial stability and occupancy.

  3. Co-op Financing – Financing a co-op can be more complex than financing a condo, as lenders will look at the financial stability of the co-op corporation as well as your personal financial situation.

Buying and financing a condo can be a great option for those who want low-maintenance living and access to amenities. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent and lender can help you navigate the process and find the right condo for your needs and budget.

Tips for Maintaining and Managing a Condo

Maintaining and managing a condo requires some additional considerations compared to a single-family home. Here are some tips for keeping your condo in good shape and navigating the condo association:

  1. Know Your Responsibilities – Review the condo association documents to understand what areas of the condo you’re responsible for maintaining and what areas are the responsibility of the association.

  2. Communicate with the Condo Association – Keep the condo association informed of any maintenance or repair issues, and follow their procedures for submitting requests and getting approval for work.

  3. Budget for Maintenance – Condo fees typically cover exterior maintenance and repairs, but you may be responsible for interior maintenance and repairs. It’s important to budget for these expenses and keep up with regular maintenance tasks such as changing air filters and cleaning gutters.

  4. Follow Condo Association Rules – Be aware of the rules and regulations of the condo association regarding noise, pets, and use of common areas. Violating these rules can result in fines or other consequences.

  5. Get Involved in the Community – Participating in condo association meetings and events can help you stay informed about issues affecting the condo and build relationships with other residents.

  6. Consider Insurance – Condo associations typically have insurance that covers the building and common areas, but you may need to purchase additional insurance to cover your personal belongings and liability.

  7. Hire Professionals – When it comes to maintenance and repairs, it’s often best to hire professionals who are licensed and insured, rather than attempting to DIY or hire unqualified individuals.

By following these tips and staying informed about the responsibilities and regulations of your condo association, you can help ensure that your condo stays in good condition and you have a positive living experience.

Top Condo Management Companies

Condo management companies are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of condo associations, including maintenance, financial management, and communication with residents. Here are some top condo management companies to consider:

  1. FirstService Residential – With over 8,000 properties under management, FirstService Residential is one of the largest condo management companies in North America. They offer a range of services, including property management, financial management, and board education.

  2. Associa – Associa manages over 10,000 communities across North America and has a range of services, including community management, accounting, and maintenance services.

  3. Community Association Management – Community Association Management is a full-service condo management company that provides services such as budgeting, maintenance, and emergency response.

  4. RealManage – RealManage is a national condo management company with over 400 communities under management. They offer a range of services, including financial management, governance, and maintenance.

  5. CCMC – CCMC is a community management company that specializes in managing master-planned communities, including condos. They offer services such as community management, lifestyle programming, and maintenance services.

When choosing a condo management company, it’s important to consider factors such as their experience, services offered, and reputation in the industry. Working with a reputable management company can help ensure that your condo association runs smoothly and efficiently, and that residents have a positive living experience.

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