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The easiest way to understand the concept of condominium ownership is to see at as an apartment you own (in fact, many condominiums are apartments that have been converted over the years). Your ownership extends inward from your interior walls, floors and ceilings. In addition, you are a partner, with all of the other owners in the complex, of the exterior structure (the foundation, exterior walls and roof) as well as any common areas and amenities (for example, swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, play areas, etc.)

One of the requirements of condominium ownership is the payment of a monthly condo fee, which covers general repairs and maintenance to the common areas of the complex as well as (hopefully) build up a cash reserve for future needs. In general, all exterior maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the condominium association, although you will be charged for them, either through your association dues or a special assessment (a one time charge assessed to all owners for, as an example, a new roof). The normal day-to-day maintenance of the grounds (some examples are cutting the grass, shoveling snow and maintaining the pool) are also the responsibility of the association. Interior maintenance and repairs (for example, replacing a dishwasher) are the responsibility of the individual owner.

In some areas, a condominium may be the only consideration that fits within your budget. The reason for this are simple. In general, the same square footage will cost less in a condo setting than it will in a single family home or townhouse, due mainly to land cost—you can build many more condos than you can single family homes on the same amount of land.

Advantages of Condominiums
* You will be responsible for little or no exterior maintenance or repairs.
* Many condominium communities offer amenities (pools, play areas, tennis courts, etc.) you may otherwise not be able to afford.
* Condominiums are often located in locations convenient to centers of employment and shopping.
* Condominiums are often more reasonably priced than other forms of housing.

Disadvantages of Condominiums
* You will be responsible for payment of Condominium Association fees.
* You give up more privacy when compared to single family homes as well as townhouses.
* You only own from your interior walls inward. The rest of the structure and all of the land is owned in common with the other condominium owners.
* When it is time to sell, it can often take longer to sell a condominium.

Is a Condominium for You? It is if…
* You want absolutely nothing to do with exterior maintenance and repairs.
* You like the idea of amenities (swimming pools, tennis courts and the like) but you don’t like the idea of having to pay for them on your own.
* You like the safety of numerous and nearby neighbors.

This article courtesy of The Home Buyer’s Information Center, a complete guide to buying a home. 2002

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