Single Family vs Condominium Properties In San Jose, CA

House vs. Condo
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House vs. Condo

House, or Condo? That’s the question!

Given the high cost of housing in San Jose, many buyers (especially first time buyers) look into buying a condominium property instead of a single family home. Both offer unique advantages. Buyers obviously evaluate the differing price ranges, but there are added considerations to be made. The following are some factors for deciding between single family and condominium properties in San Jose, CA.

Property Maintenance

Condominiums require less maintenance than single family homes . This is because monthly homeowner’s association fees usually take care of exterior maintenance: landscaping, paint, siding, roof, lighting, irrigation, etc. If you own your home, you will have to pay for this upkeep yourself, and it is by no means free (or cheap). With single family homes, you are responsible for all of the maintenance, interior and exterior. If you have a busy life – and who in San Jose doesn’t – then condominium living may be a good fit, both in terms of the time it takes to do all that maintenance, and the cost of it.

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Rehab Options

The ability to complete renovations is a key distinction between single family and condominium properties in San Jose, CA. With condominiums, there are restrictions on what you can and cannot do to your home. In most complexes, you can change the inside of the unit so long as you do not change the structure of the building (e.g. you cannot move walls, etc). Many associations however do control what kind of flooring can be used on a second floor unit (many prohibit hardwood flooring on second floors, for example). Exterior elements are usually controlled by the condo association – including for example what kind of window coverings can be visible from the outside. With single family homes, you only have the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) to consider.

Social Environment

Due to the proximity to other units and the inclusion of amenities, the actual experience of living in a single family home vs. a condominium in San Jose will be somewhat different. With condominiums, you are more likely to meet your neighbors (and hear them, too). With a detached single family home, your space has more separation from neighbors, so socializing with others will require added effort (or easier to avoid, as the case may be). However, some single family homes located in subdivisions will still provide chances to interact with others if there are shared amenities such as a pool, tennis courts, or golf course.

Level of Privacy

Although detached units are sometimes an option, condominiums are most often adjoined to other units – either side by side, above/below, or both. Thus, you normally share one or more walls as well as other boundaries. If independence and privacy are a requirement, then single family houses are the best choice.

Considering Single Family vs Condominium Properties In San Jose, CA

Most buyers – especially first time buyers – would prefer to buy a single family home. The economic reality of the situation though is that buying a single family home is out of reach for many buyers, and they’ll have no choice but to buy a condominium if they want to own a home in San Jose. But buyers would do well to remember that their first home doesn’t have to be their last home – buying a condominium can be a stepping stone to buying a detached single family home down the road. Also remember that the association dues is not money down the drain – it pays for insurance and upkeep, which are very real costs you would have to spend on a single family home anyway.

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