Advantages of Buying a Condo
Believe it or not, there are many advantages of buying and living in a condo. This is a strange notion for me to share because I was born and raised in a single-family house in Aiea. As I grew older, I thought I would always want to live in a house and never truly considered condo life. Due to a great opportunity, I ended up purchasing a condominium unit as a first-time homebuyer and now can’t think of going back to living in a house!
While this may not be true for everyone, there are many reasons why you should consider living in a condo yourself. Here are some of those reasons:
1. Condos are Cheaper than Houses
The median house price for Oahu in April 2021 is $930,000. The median price for a condo is $450,000.
There are many reasons for the price differences:
- Condos are usually smaller in size than a house
- Houses come with additional lot or yard space
- Condos typically build upwards and can maximize more lot space than a house
2. Condos Provide More Urban Locations than Houses
Due to the high cost of land, it would cost a lot of money to build a house in a crowded urban area, such as Kakaako or near Ala Moana. Developers of dense urban areas will only be able to make a profit if they can build upwards. This is why you only see high rises in these locations for any property built in the last 40 years.
Living in the heart of the city is a great advantage if you spend a lot of time there already. My wife works 6 blocks away and walks to work everyday. We live in Kakaako and often walk to the beach and Ala Moana in our free time. We also never need to worry about parking if we go to a Ward Village or Salt event or if we see a show at Neil Blaisdell. If you consider yourself a townie, then living in a condo will allow you to achieve actually living in town.
3. Home Maintenance is Included with the Price
When you own a condo unit, it will be mandatory to participate in the building’s Home Owner’s Association (HOA). This is an organization run by people that live in the building and manage the common maintenance needed to run it.
There area many items included in the HOA fee. The bare minimum for Oahu is that your water, sewage, and trash will be included. Yard and grounds upkeep are also included, you will never need to cut the grass again! A growing number of building associations will use their unit count to score discounted internet and cable rates, allowing for it to be included in the base rate.
What many people don’t realize however, is that many large house expenses are also included. For Hawaiian townhomes, the cost to fix and replace the roof and exterior walls fall on the Association. Many townhome communities also include fences (but not all of them). Condo buildings will budget in piping and main wiring replacements. They will also budget for elevator and common area repairs although these expenses aren’t typical for home ownership.
4. Condos Have More Security
An important expense that many people don’t normally consider in their HOA fee is security. For some people, this is one of the most important factors in owning a condo. Here are several of the added security that a condo can have:
Secured entrance – Many buildings and communities require key fobs for access. Some buildings will have fobs that only work for the floor you work on.
Parking gates and secured fences – Similar to above, key fobs will provide safe access.
Security patrols – For taller buildings and bigger communities, security guards often patrol the grounds.
Package receiving – Worried about your mail packages getting stolen? Many buildings have package receiving and secure mailboxes.
More eyes in your area – Even if your condo doesn’t come with all of the extra security, there will still be much more people living around you than a suburb. The extra eyes and neighbors will make any crook think twice before trying to break in to your home.
5. Most Condos Have Amenities and Perks
Building and community amenities are my favorite part of living in a condo. Such amenities can be a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, party room, BBQ area, and dog park. Trends for newer developments often come with yoga rooms, movie theaters, and guest suites. Guest suites are extra rooms that you can rent when you have guests in town, often cheaper and better than a Waikiki hotel!
I have recently discovered the best amenity rich building in Oahu when I was helping a client. It’s called the Honolulu Park Place building across the street from Downtown Honolulu. The amenities in this building include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, basketball court, party room with billiards, and another party room over a koi pond, racquetball court, tennis court, BBQ cabanas, putting green, golf driving cages, steam room, sauna, massage room with paid therapist, a dedicated plate lunch restaurant with room delivery, and a 2 lane bowling alley!
When considering amenities for yourself, it is very important to truly ask yourself if you will use any of the amenities. While they are great to have, the great majority of owners don’t use them. Don’t forget that all extra amenities must be maintained, which will increase Association costs. The more units a building has though, the more people are there to absorb these costs.
Before deciding whether a building’s monthly maintenance fee is a lot or not, you must first do the math on your own situation. Deduct the costs you know you’ll have if you had a house and see how much is left over. For example, a water and sewage bill for a family of 4 could equal $200/month. Cable and internet could equal $50-$100/month. Many buildings have their own gyms, which could lower your extra monthly expenditures by $20-over $100/month.
Is Condo Living for You?
While living in a condo is definitely worth the experience, condo living may not be right for everyone in the long run. If you still aren’t sure if you could live in a condominium building, you might just have to try living in one and see. Renting is always a good option before buying to get to know an area and see what a building is like. Take note about how the building is run and if you use the amenities. Also see how much time you’re saving from sitting in traffic. I’d love to know if you think it’s worth it and what are the advantages of condo living for you.
Kamehameha Realty is a full real estate brokerage firm. We have many condos and apartments to rent in Honolulu and other parts of the island. Our main focus is property management, and we can help you rent out your condo if you have one. Lastly, we would be more than happy to help you find your own condo for purchase, or sell one you already have. Contact us today if you have any questions on our real estate services in Oahu.