“How to choose between a condo, house, townhouse or apartment - Bankrate.com” plus 3 more

“How to choose between a condo, house, townhouse or apartment - Bankrate.com” plus 3 more

How to choose between a condo, house, townhouse or apartment - Bankrate.com

Posted: 14 Aug 2019 12:07 PM PDT

One of the few constants in life is change. So, there's not a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing what kind of home makes sense for your current stage of life."Buyers should consider their budget and lifestyle, as well as their desired amount of involvement in home maintenance when it comes to deciding which style of home they should focus their search on," says John Ameralis, a licensed associate real estate broker and founder of The Ameralis Team with Compass Real Estate in New York City.

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer evaluating a condo vs. townhouse, an empty nester looking to downsize into a smaller house or condo, or if you're trying to determine if renting an apartment or buying a home is best for you, consider this your primer on what type of housing might suit your lifestyle.

Know your options: condo vs. house vs. townhouse vs. apartment

As with any major purchase, it's important to thoroughly understand your options. Beyond the obvious factors like price and location, there are other points to consider with each housing category. It's important to understand the differences so you can make an informed choice.


A condominium (or "condo" for short) is a salable unit within a larger structure, which could be a high-rise building. It's easy to think of them as similar to apartments, but instead of renting, individuals can buy a unit.

Pros of condos

Of all the home types on the market, condos "require the least amount of maintenance. You only need to maintain the 'walls in,'" Ameralis explains. Things like a leaky roof or peeling exterior paint are up to the property manager or condo association to fix.

Condos can be great for anyone who wants to keep home maintenance to a minimum, including first-time homebuyers, singles, older homeowners or people who travel frequently. With a condo association to take care of maintenance and even security, you won't have to worry about things like mowing the grass or arranging trash pickup services.

Cons of condos

Condo association rules can be highly restrictive, meaning you may not be able to customize your unit the way you want. Those who value exclusivity and privacy might find the community areas less than ideal. "It is important to keep in mind that in condos, even the most exclusive ones, you are still sharing elevators and other amenities," explains Judy Zeder, a Realtor-Associate with The Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker in Coral Gables, Florida. You also might be restricted from renting out or home-sharing a condo, depending on the HOA rules. If you want to make an income from your property or need a tenant to help pay bills, check the HOA rules before you buy a condo.


When most people talk about "buying a house" they mean purchasing a single-family home, which is a stand-alone structure on a foundation. Single-family homes can be single-story ranch homes or have multiple stories, as well as a basement or attic space.

Pros of houses

Perhaps the biggest point in favor of buying a house is the freedom to decorate, maintain and alter it however you like (while obeying local building ordinances and/or homeowners association guidelines). "Owning your own house gives you more freedom to live how you want to versus condos, which have bylaws that govern what you can and cannot do," Ameralis says.

A house doesn't share walls or common spaces as some condos and townhomes do, meaning you have more privacy. Many single-family houses also have yards, so you get more outdoor space to enjoy.

Cons of houses

Owning a house means you'll be responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs, which can be considerably more cumbersome than you'd have with another type of home. Think  lawn care, keeping the gutters clean, servicing the furnace, HVAC unit and other routine maintenance. Those tasks can add up to significant time and money. Read more about the differences between a house and a condo to learn which best for you.


Most modern townhouses have small footprints, multiple floors and shared exterior walls with neighboring homes within the community. Some townhouses might have small yards or patios, and can be much cheaper to buy than a single-family home.

Pros of townhouses

For homebuyers deciding between houses and condos, a townhouse might be the best of both worlds. You get multiple levels, often more space (like a single-family house) with less exterior maintenance (a major perk of condos). Pet owners will like the fact that their townhouse may have a small yard for their four-legged friends to enjoy. Townhouses also tend to allow property owners a bit more autonomy when it comes to shutter and door colors, though those things typically have to be HOA-approved.

Cons of townhouses

Townhouses, like condos, usually come with HOA rules and dues. Depending on the age of the property and amenities offered, those fees can add up fast. "The older a townhouse development, the higher the maintenance fees tend to be, because the communal parts of the property, whether it's the grounds, pool, roof or siding, are common and shared and they need to be repaired over time," explains Andrea Webb, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty NJ Metro Group in Montclair, New Jersey. Read more about the differences between a townhouse and condo to learn which is best for you.


"Apartment" is the general term that can be used to describe any residence inside of a residential building, where the individual units are rented. In bigger cities, these can be condos that are being individually rented or they may be large buildings of units owned by a single company.

Pros of apartments

Apartments give residents a place to live without most of the responsibilities that come with homeownership, such as property taxes, maintenance fees and building upkeep. These buildings may come with community amenities like a gym, pool or dog park. Apartments can be a good choice for someone who doesn't have enough income or funds in reserve to afford buying a home.

Cons of apartments

When renting an apartment, the resident is limited on what changes they're allowed to make (think paint colors or fixtures), and the landlord can dictate things like whether to allow pets. Also, renters don't build equity, nor do they get the tax perks that come with homeownership. Read more about the differences between owning a condo and renting an apartment to learn which is best for you.

Bottom line: Know your options so you can choose confidently

To ensure you're making the right choice, consider your budget, how much space you'll need, how long you'll stay in a home and how much savings you have to put toward things like repairs and maintenance.

Visit open houses and search online listings to see what's on the market in your price range. Consider working with a real estate agent to help you narrow your choices and do in-depth research so you go into the home-buying process with a solid understanding of what you want.

Learn more:

How to Get a $5,000 Amazon Credit: Buy a House Through Realogy - The New York Times

Posted: 23 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Over the past year, the decidedly analog business of buying and selling real estate has been upended by a flurry of new money and start-ups trying to usher in a world where homes are bought and sold online. Now, Amazon is creating a partnership that goes in the opposite direction by using its gigantic retail platform to facilitate phone calls with human real estate agents.

On Tuesday, Amazon said that it was working with Realogy, the nation's largest residential real estate brokerage company and owner of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and other brands, to create TurnKey, a service that will help prospective home buyers find real estate agents. To entice customers, Amazon will give buyers up to $5,000 in home services and smart-home gear when they close.

Amazon is now as much a search engine as it is a store, and the deal fits into the company's effort to capitalize on its status as an online destination by making money on advertising and other services. It's also a way to encourage people to adopt products like Alexa speakers and Ring doorbells and to promote its list of handymen, furniture assemblers and other home services.

For Realogy, who will pay for those benefits, the partnership is a way of using Amazon to find home buyers and help its brokers separate the closers from the lookie-loos by rebating a portion of its commission, in the form of free Amazon stuff, to anyone who actually buys a house.

Here's how it works: Buyers who are interested in the program go to Amazon.com/TurnKey and answer four questions about who they are and where they live. They then get a phone call from a Realogy representative who tries to determine what sort of home they are looking for and how serious they are about buying.

The best prospects are sent to agents. Depending on how much buyers ultimately spend on a home, those who close with one of Realogy's agents get a coupon for $450 to $1,500 in Amazon Home Services like unpacking, cleaning and furniture assembly, along with $500 to $3,500 in smart-home products that Amazon or some affiliate will install. To get the maximum benefit, worth $5,000 in equipment and services, a buyer would have to purchase a home for $700,000 or more.

"Neither us nor Amazon envision this as a way to give cash back to people," said Ryan Schneider, Realogy's chief executive. "We took a different lens, thinking, 'What could we do together that would just make it much easier to move into a house?' People want the stress release of getting someone to clean the house or getting someone to put the furniture together."

Creditvia Realogy

More than half of all product searches in the United States start directly on Amazon, according to the marketing analytics firm Jumpshot, and Amazon has increasingly been using customers' searches to stimulate the sale of services that the company does not directly offer now. Most of that has been through its growing ad business, which uses shopping history to target customers on and off Amazon. Morgan Stanley estimated that Wall Street would value Amazon's ad business at about $100 billion if it were a stand-alone business.

The vast majority of buyers still purchase homes through a real estate agent, but many begin their search online, where people browse listings and look at pictures and fiddle with tax and mortgage calculators to get a sense of what they can afford. This has prompted a number of companies to start nudging buyers and sellers toward online transactions as well.

Companies like Zillow, Redfin and Opendoor have started "instant buying" programs that offer cash and a quick close to sellers, cutting real estate agents out of the process. Redfin, the Seattle-based real estate brokerage firm, said in May that it would let buyers bid on properties on its website — "a buy button for real estate," according the company's chief executive, Glenn Kelman.

Realogy has an instant buying program, too, but still has a lot riding on the traditional brokerage model. The company's stock has plunged by more than half over the past year as it faces competition from instant buying programs and start-up brokerage firms like Compass that are lowering the commission splits that traditional brokerage agents make their living on.

The TurnKey program, which is similar to incentive deals that retailers like Costco and others started offering decades ago, is what people in the real estate business call "lead generation." Real estate brokers generate a little over $100 billion a year in commissions, and buyers who close are worth several thousand dollars to an agent's bottom line. The problem is, most home shoppers do not close but burn up time that brokers could be dedicating to more determined buyers.

As the early stages of home buying have moved online, many agents have dispatched with the old bus-bench ads and instead put more of their marketing into campaigns on Zillow and elsewhere. That company takes in about $900 million a year in revenue from its "premier agent" program, in which agents pay to have their name and email displayed next to listings.

The partnership could bolster Amazon's aggressive push into smart homes, which it believes will become an increasingly important tool to interact with shoppers. The company had once hoped to establish stronger ties to its customers through a smartphone, the Fire phone, but it flopped. So when its Echo speakers and Alexa voice assistant found early success, Amazon poured resources into building a first-mover advantage in voice assistants and smart homes.

Google and Apple have competing products, but about 70 percent of people who own smart speakers have an Echo device, according to a February estimate from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Because the confusion of connecting smart home devices can make some people reluctant to buy them, Amazon has been building a network of technicians to install the systems in homes for a fee, which will be waived for TurnKey customers.

The company also offers other home services, like installing TVs or painting rooms, though it has not stood out in the crowded field of labor marketplaces and referral sites, like TaskRabbit, Porch and Angie's List. Two years ago, Amazon briefly had a "Hire a Realtor" page on its website, but the company took it down after it was spotted by a real estate trade publication. That news report knocked more than 3 percent off Zillow's share price.

Bachelor Alum Lauren Bushnell and Country Star Chris Lane Adopt a Puppy — and Buy a House! - PEOPLE.com

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 09:46 PM PDT

Lauren Bushnell and Chris Lane Adopt a Puppy — and Buy a House! | PEOPLE.com

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I’m Ready to Buy a House. My Partner Isn’t. What Should We Do? - Rewire.org

Posted: 19 Aug 2019 01:06 PM PDT

For best results, settle these conflicts before you begin your search

Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. So, if you're ready to take the plunge, you want your partner to be just as enthusiastic as you are.

But what if you aren't on the same page about taking this big step?

"A home is a serious investment and a decision that requires consideration of income, life direction, lifestyles and open discussions with your partner," said Ron Humes, who has been the owner and principal broker of a realty company for more than 20 years.

Somehow, you need to be seeing eye-to-eye before going all in.

Differences become a strength

When the housing market was bottoming out in 2008, Colin Crook knew that if he and his wife wanted to buy a house in the Bay Area, they had to act quickly.

Though they both came from homeowning families — which means they might have been more inclined to buy a house — Crook's wife wasn't sure they could afford it.

"I was thinking, 'How do I take care of my family? How do I keep us moving forward?'" Crook said. He was focused on creating inertia for their family, and he knew buying a home was an important step to building wealth.

His wife, however, was unconvinced, especially because they live in an area of the country where it is notoriously difficult to move from renting to purchasing.

"My wife is more pragmatic and less risk-tolerant, so we had to work to balance those things out," he said.

Humes's advice is to settle these conflicts before you begin your search for a house.

"Discussions when deep in the process tend to involve much more raw emotions and stress," he said.

When Colin Crook and his wife got the news their offer had been accepted, "there was a sense of relief and it felt like a life-changing moment."

Both Crook and his wife agreed that homeownership was the right choice for them, but they disagreed about timing.

In order to make her feel more comfortable, Crook did his research. Not only did he scour websites and follow trends, he looked into government subsidies. In fact, he was able to apply for and receive about $5,000 a year from both the state of California and the federal government to put toward his mortgage for the first few years.

These programs helped the family afford the home, and, more importantly, they made Crook's wife feel more in control while they were considering such a big purchase.

What looked like a difficult divide worked in their favor when making this big decision. Both partners kept the other in check during the process.

"One thing we have going for us is we complement each other's deficiencies very well," Crook said.

[ICYMI: A Quick Guide to First-Time Homebuying]

Making the switch from renting to buying

Unlike the Crook family, Devon Horace, of New York City, had never considered home ownership as part of his path. No one close to him had ever been a homeowner.

"Being from New York, I just thought, 'Who owns a home?' It wasn't in the plans for me."

But when he saw that it was a make-or-break priority for his fiancée, he listened to her ideas and took them seriously.

"I realized I should be a little more open-minded," he said. "And now I have a home and two rental properties, and I have a real sense of pride and accomplishment."

Horace and Crook both said owning a home has ultimately led to a feeling of financial freedom. While colleagues in the Bay Area struggle to find affordable rent, Crook even feels a little guilty that the risk of buying a home during the mortgage crisis paid off.

But it was a big risk. There was apprehension, stress and uncertainty.

"For two weeks, we ate our meals on the floor because we didn't have enough furniture to fill the space," Crook said.

Considering student loan debt

The rising cost of housing is not the only reason young couples and families have hesitated to buy a home. Many of us are carrying a burden of student loan debt.

Yet buying a home is possible even if you have student loan debt. And if it's truly your priority —if you're re-pinning renovation ideas and poking around on Zillow in the middle of the night "for fun" — there are tools that can help.

Learn as much as possible about your loan. Reach out to your student loan company and explore all repayment options. You might even consider using motivational tools to aggressively pay down your debt as you save for a home.

Millennials have valuable purchasing power, and financial institutions are ultimately trying to make buying a home more accessible to us in order for the market to grow.

[Read: Been Dating for a Bit? Time to Talk Finances]

Caring about your partner's priorities

There are upsides to renting. When you have a landlord, you call them when something breaks. You can move more frequently and easily, and learn more about your preferences when it comes to where you live and how.

Home ownership simply isn't everyone's ultimate goal. It depends on your priorities.

But learning more about the process can strengthen a couple's relationship and help them understand each other's wants better.

For both Crook and Horace, researching the benefits of home ownership with their partners helped them make good financial decisions.

The moment Crook and his wife received the news that their offer had been accepted, "it was total joy," he said. "There was a sense of relief and it felt like a life-changing moment. It really did."

Whether you choose to buy a home or not, having open discussions with your partner about your financial priorities is healthy. Humes, who has helped countless couples in his years as a realtor, said they must "open their hearts to one another and (get) dirty in the details of their lives" before they're ready to own a home.

A headshot of Jamie Lynne Burgess. PBS Rewire. Jamie Lynne Burgess

Jamie Lynne Burgess is a writer who is fascinated by how places shape culture. She also loves podcasts, personal essays, and public libraries. Get in touch on Twitter @jamburgess or follow her on instagram @jamielynneburgess.


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