March 28th, 2022 at 11:00 am

What’s the difference between a condo and an apartment?

If you’ve ever been confused about the differences between an apartment and a condo, you’re not alone. Like many terms used in real estate lingo, the distinctions can be subtle, obscure, and hard to track. 

So, what’s the difference between a condo and an apartment? Condos are owned, while apartments are rented. These two different options for residency come with different maintenance responsibilities as well as different rules and regulations. 

What are the unique qualities of each and which is right for you? In this guide, we’ll break it down.

Understanding condos and apartments: The differences 

At first glance, there might not seem to be much that distinguishes condos from apartments.

Despite their similarities, however, condos and apartments are different entities that offer vastly different living experiences. To fully grasp these differences, it’s helpful to have an understanding of each of them on their own. Here’s what makes them unique.

A quick & easy guide to condos 

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer testing the real estate waters or a retiree who want a low-maintenance option without sacrificing the perks of ownership, condos can be an appealing domestic option.

Here’s a quick guide to everything you ever wanted to know about condos.

Who owns a condo? 

Condos are owned by the resident of each individual unit. As a condo owner, you might make a mortgage payment every month, but you pay rent to no one.

In most cases, when you a buy a condo, you buy:

Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?

When it comes to condo ownership, determining responsibility for ongoing maintenance and occasional repairs isn’t always the most straightforward process. 

In most cases, maintenance and repairs are divided between the condo owner and the governing homeowner’s association (HOA). But which concerns are your responsibility and which fall under the jurisdiction of your HOA?

This can vary a lot depending on the specific condo project and the associated HOA. Likewise, different states have their own unique rules and regulations dictating where responsibilities lie in certain cases. 

That said, the responsibilities are usually divided up as follows:

Although the situation can be murky, the details should all be clearly outlined in the governing documents, so you know exactly what you’re responsible for—before and after you purchase.

What are the associated rules and regulations?

Condo owners are subject to the rules and regulations specified in their contract with the condo association. These rules and regulations can pertain to almost every aspect of your living situation, from what you can and can’t do to the outside of your condo to how you can decorate for the holidays.

That said, HOAs don’t have unlimited leeway when it comes to rulemaking and enforcing. HOAs are subject to various state and federal laws which dictate which rules and standards HOAs are permitted to impose—and how they can enforce them. 

If you’re buying a condo or thinking about buying one, here are some common rules and regulations you can expect from your condo association:

If you’re leaning towards finding a condo for your future home, you might need some help navigating the in’s and out’s of the real estate market. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, all of our agents are experts in local real estate and can help you find and buy an amazing condo to call your own. 

Reach out to one of our offices today and let’s start your condo-hunt today!

A quick & easy guide to apartments 

Apartments offer living options for anyone at almost any price point, from recent graduates striking out on their own for the very first time to young couples who just aren’t ready to buy a house.

They’re also an appealing choice for anyone who doesn’t want the maintenance and repair hassles that can come with homeownership, regardless of their economic or professional status. 

Here’s the low-down on apartments.

Who owns an apartment?

Whereas each unit in a condo building is owned by individual occupants, all of the units in an apartment building are owned by one person: the landlord. The landlord leases or rents each unit to tenants who pay the landlord a fee, usually on a monthly basis.

As a tenant, you’ll sign a lease. The lease is a legally binding document that acts as a contract between you and the landlord. It outlines the various responsibilities of both parties as well as the specific rules and conditions that might apply so ensure you understand how to get approved for an apartment first. It covers things like:

Like HOA regulations, landlords and lease terms are monitored at both state and federal levels. This means that the particulars of a given lease will vary depending on what state you’re renting in. 

For instance, California has laws regarding many aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, including how much a landlord can charge for security deposits and other fees, and when a tenant is within their legal right to withhold rent.

Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?

For many people, the best thing about renting an apartment versus owning any kind of home is the freedom it gives you from worrying about most maintenance and repair issues. That’s because when you rent an apartment, almost anything that could go wrong is up to your landlord to fix. 

There are exceptions, of course. Your landlord probably isn’t going to come out and change your kitchen light bulb, and you might have to tackle some small repairs like clogged toilets or sinks on your own. 

But your landlord should cover major, costly repairs like the following:

What are the associated rules & regulations?

Although renting offers you a certain flexibility you might not get when you purchase a property, it can also come with a host of other constraints.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the footing beneath landlords and tenants is not exactly equal. As a property owner, your landlord enjoys certain considerations and protections under the law that aren’t extended to you as the tenant. 

And as the property owner, your landlord has substantial freedom to impose rules upon their renters. Any rules they do enforce will be clearly stated in your lease agreement, but some common examples include:

The world of apartment-hunting can be a hectic one. Between the extensive competition and the intricate application forms, it can feel overwhelming to start your apartment-search. The team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties can be the ace up your sleeve. Our extensive knowledge of Southern California neighborhoods and apartments can make the apartment hunt as easy as signing on the dotted line. 

Condo vs. apartment: Which one is right for you?

So, would you be happier renting an apartment or buying a condo?

Although your personal plans for homeownership and your ability to keep up with property maintenance will definitely play a part in your decision, they’re far from the only factors to keep in mind.

Here are some things to consider.

Find your dream condo or apartment

We know that the wild world of real estate can seem big, intimidating, and difficult to navigate—even once you’re versed in the differences between condos and apartments. 

That’s where we step in. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, we’ve charted a course through the real estate wilderness so that you don’t have to go it alone.  

Are you a first-time home-buyer with big dreams and even bigger questions? Our highly trained network agents work with you and get to know you as a person to help craft a plan that’s in line with your long-term real estate goals. 

Whatever your real estate needs, go with the experts in buying and selling. Let our California Properties agents show you the way. 

Sources: US News, US News, US News, LA Times, US News

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