You probably live in a house, apartment or condo.
But which option is best for you? And if you’re in a home, should you ever consider moving into a condo instead?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
What Does Clark Think of a House To Condo Switch?
What’s it like making a house to condo transition?
That’s what a listener asked on the Aug. 4 podcast episode.
Asked Susanne in California: “My husband and I are empty nesters. We are considering downsizing to a smaller house or a condo.
“I understand you moved to a condo fairly recently. I would love to know how you feel about that move and the change from a house to a condo. We have never had HOA fees, and this would be a consideration, as we are both seniors.”
Clark loves the simplicity of living in a condo. There’s less to maintain. And that has been a real boost to his quality of life, he says.
“I love living in a condo. To me, it’s like living in a big hotel room. You lock the door and you go,” Clark says. “You don’t have to worry about all the stuff that I had to worry about in a house.
“Living in a condo? I love it. Now if my wife was here and you asked her, I don’t know how many times a week she says, ‘I miss our house. I miss our house. I miss our house. Which I loved. But I don’t miss that house at all.”
A Word of Caution on Condos: Do Your Financial Research
As much as Clark loves his condo, he doesn’t condone picking a place that looks good and jumping at the opportunity.
Just like you do when you research ahead of buying a home, you need to do the same for a condo.
“One thing you need to worry about upfront is, whatever condo community you’re thinking of buying in, you need to have access to their financials,” Clark says.
Typically, a condo association controls and manages the property (and the land on which it sits) via an elected board of directors. If you own a condo unit, you’ll pay fees to the condo association. Those fees exist to maintain and insure the building among other things.
If the board doesn’t manage those fees properly, and not enough reserve funds are available to pay for major maintenance, the board can bill unit owners for the remaining costs.
“The time bomb in a condo [is] when you get hit with a giant special assessment because the board is not doing good planning and under-collecting each month,” Clark says.
“And then they don’t have enough money in reserves when the roof needs repairing or replacing or various common elements need proper maintenance or updating or whatever. And so you want to know how financially strong the condo is.”
Clark loved moving from house to condo. He likes the fact that his condo is lower maintenance.
More than once, Clark has said he’d live in a hotel long-term, or at least for extended periods of time, if he could. He also said that his condo reminds him of a hotel room. So it makes sense why he loves it.
There are some major differences between living in a house and a condominium. You’ll have to decide for yourself if one or the other appeals to you more.
If a condo is your speed, just make sure that you’re not buying into one with a poor condo association. That could lead to an ugly financial situation for you in the future.