What is a Condo: A Guide for Property Buyers

Understanding condos: a comprehensive guide for property buyers

What is a Condo?

A condo, or condominium, is a type of real estate property that is part of a larger property complex. It is a private residence within a larger building or community where the property owner holds the title to the individual unit but shares ownership of the common areas and amenities with other unit owners. This shared ownership structure is what sets condos apart from other types of real estate like single-family homes and townhouses.

Understanding the Condo Structure

Condos are typically located in multi-unit buildings, but they can also exist in other forms like townhouses or detached houses within a gated community. The key characteristic of a condo is the legal structure, not the physical form. When you buy a condo, you’re buying a piece of real estate that includes a specific part of a larger property.

Individual Ownership

As a condo owner, you have exclusive ownership rights to the interior of your unit. This typically includes everything within the walls of your unit, such as the living space, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. However, the specifics can vary based on the condo’s legal documents, known as the condo declaration or master deed.

Shared Ownership

Condo owners also share ownership of the common areas and amenities. These can include hallways, elevators, lobbies, gyms, pools, and outdoor spaces. The cost of maintaining these shared spaces is covered by condo fees that all unit owners pay.

How Condos Work

Condos are governed by a homeowners association (HOA), which is typically made up of condo owners elected by their fellow residents. The HOA sets the rules for the condo community, manages the shared spaces, and collects the condo fees.

Condo Fees

Condo fees are a crucial part of condo ownership. These fees are used to cover the cost of maintaining the common areas, providing amenities, and funding a reserve for major repairs or improvements. The amount of the condo fee depends on the size of your unit, the amenities offered, and the cost of maintaining the property.

Condo Rules

Living in a condo also means abiding by the rules set by the HOA. These rules can cover a wide range of topics, from pet ownership to noise levels to exterior decorations. It’s important for potential condo buyers to review these rules before purchasing to ensure they can live comfortably within the community.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Condo Ownership

Condo ownership offers a unique blend of private ownership and community living. This can be a great fit for some people, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some of the key benefits and drawbacks to consider:


  • Lower Maintenance: With the HOA handling the maintenance of the common areas and exterior, condo owners typically have less maintenance to worry about than single-family homeowners.
  • Amenities: Many condo communities offer amenities like pools, gyms, and community spaces that would be costly for a single-family homeowner.
  • Location: Condos are often located in desirable urban areas, close to shopping, dining, and public transportation.


  • Condo Fees: The monthly condo fees can be a significant additional cost on top of your mortgage payment.
  • Less Privacy: Living in a condo means sharing walls with your neighbors, which can lead to less privacy than a detached home.
  • HOA Rules: Some people find the rules set by the HOA to be restrictive and frustrating.

In summary, a condo is a type of real estate that offers a unique blend of private ownership and community living. It can be a great option for those who value convenience and location over privacy and control. However, it’s important for potential buyers to understand the costs, rules, and lifestyle that come with condo ownership.


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