Friday, September 28, 2007

Condo Vs. Single Family Home

Whether to purchase a house or a condo seems to be a pretty hot topic of conversation these days. I am getting a lot of questions about the advantages/disadvantages of each scenario. The most common question is which is a better investment. Of course it all comes down to money. In general I would say that the single family home is a stronger investment. As I have reported in past postings, the median home price in San Francisco has appreciated over the past few months while condo prices have gone down over that same period of time. That is a general note for all of San Francisco. When you are looking at the strength of your investment, I think it is important to look specifically at the property you are considering. Location is probably most important, because the one thing you cannot change about a property is its location. Condition of the property is next, and with a condo that includes taking a look at the association. Is it run efficiently, and are there healthy reserves for building maintenance?

When making the decision about what type of property you would like to buy, you need to answer a couple of questions that may help guide you in the right direction. The first question is, "how much do you want to spend?" Figure out what a comfortable monthly payment is. That amount along with the size of your down payment will determine your purchase price. Let's say you've done that and you've come up with a purchase price of $800,000.

The next question is, "where do I want to live?" If you want to live in Noe Valley or anywhere north of there, you are pretty much condo bound with $800,000. You can buy a house in Bernal Heights, Sunset, Mission Terrace, Exelsior, Ingleside, and other neighborhoods on the southern side of the city for that same amount. In San Francisco, the neighborhood you choose will determine the type of property you can afford.

You also need to ask yourself, "what is most important to me?" Take a look at your lifestyle and think about what you want in a home. If your vision is children and pets playing in a backyard, then a single family home is probably the way to go. On the flip side, if you travel a lot for work or can't be bothered with gardening or maintenance of a building, a condo is definitely for you.

My advice is that instead of looking at the property for answers, take a look at your lifestyle and what you need. Think about why you need what you need as well; there may be a few different solutions. Make a wish list and don't be afraid to ask for everything you want...you just might get it!

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