Freehold Vs. Condo Ownership

Three broad categories of home ownership exist: condominium, cooperative and freehold. Which one is right for you is a decision based primarily the lifestyle you would like to have. Condominiums offer low maintenance, and lock and go travel, while freehold ownership gives you more privacy and flexibility with what you do to the property.

What is a Condominium?

Condominiums in Ottawa can be in a high-rise or low-rise building, or can be row-houses/townhouse condominiums.

Condos are typically less costly to purchase than a freehold home. With a condominium, you own, and are responsible for, the interior area of your unit (from the drywall in). You are responsible to pay maintenance/condo fees to cover costs associated with upkeep of the building and grounds. Condo fees can also cover the cost of a number of other items, such as building insurance, amenities, your parking spot, and sometimes some utilities. What is included in the maintenance fee varies between condominium corporations. Condominiums can have strict rules regarding noise, use of common areas, renovations, pets, etc.

Regardless of the style of condo you own, it is important to be an active member of your condo association.

What is a Cooperative?

Co-ops are comparable to condominiums, except instead of owning your unit, you own a percentage of shares in the entire building. As with condo ownership, maintenance and repairs are paid for through the collection of monthly fees and you are subject to the rules and regulations of the co-op board. The purchase price for a co-op will often been less expensive than a comparable condo, BUT, it is likely you will have to pay a significant down payment, and in some co-ops, purchase the shares outright with no mortgage at all. If you decide to sell your shares and move out, the co-op board has the right to approve/reject prospective buyers. Cooperatives are not frequently on offer in our marketplace in Ottawa.

What is Freehold Ownership?

Freehold homes offer the most privacy and freedom of choice of any other type of home. Homeowners are free to decorate and renovate as they please, as they own the entire structure and grounds. But this freedom comes with lots of responsibility too: all maintenance costs are the responsibility of the owner (maintenance inside and out, such as maintaining your roof, windows, driveway, grounds, etc.). You need to plan for time and costs associated with the maintenance of your home. Depending on how renovated your home is, you may need to put the equivalent of a monthly condo fee aside to cover repairs/projects!

If you are trying to decide whether to buy a condo or a freehold home, call me anytime. I can help you determine which is best for you.