July 24, 2023
is a condo a good first home
Is a Condo a Good First Home? Condo Living for First-Time Homeowners  
By LLCR Staff

If you’ve found yourself wondering if you should buy a condo before a house, you’ve come to the right place. For those looking for a sense of community, a low entry into homeownership from renting, investment potential, additional security and safety, access to high-end amenities that might otherwise not be available in a home, and an affordable option compared to single-family homes with a smaller down payment, a condo may make a terrific first home. 

But before you move forward with your decision, we have a wealth of information for first-time buyers. We’ll answer the burning question, “Is a condo a good first home?” and provide more helpful insights.

First, let’s take a look at the unique benefits of buying a condo.

Is a Condo a Good First Home? Explore 6 Top Benefits

1. Affordable Option with Smaller Down Payment

One of the most significant advantages of purchasing a condo as a first home is the relatively lower cost compared to single-family homes. Condos tend to be more affordable, making them accessible to buyers who may not have a substantial down payment saved up. The reduced financial burden at the outset can be particularly beneficial for young professionals or couples looking to invest in their first property.

2. Low Entry from Renting to Homeownership

Many first-time buyers transition from renting to homeownership. Condos present an ideal stepping stone in this journey. Owning a condo provides a sense of ownership and builds equity, yet it typically involves less maintenance and upkeep than owning a single-family home. This allows new homeowners to ease into the responsibilities of homeownership gradually.

3. Access to High-End Amenities

Condo living often comes with access to a range of luxurious amenities that might be financially challenging for first-time buyers to afford in a single-family home. These amenities could include swimming pools, fitness centers, rooftop gardens, communal spaces, and more. Enjoying such facilities within the condo complex can enhance the overall living experience.

4. Additional Security and Safety

Condos usually have secure entry points, such as gated entrances or controlled access to buildings. The presence of nearby neighbors can offer an added sense of security, especially for those living alone or concerned about safety. Many condos also have security systems and on-site personnel to monitor the premises.

5. Sense of Community

For first-time homeowners who value community, condos can be an excellent choice. Living in close proximity to neighbors allows for easier social interactions, fostering a more tight-knit environment. Community events and gatherings organized by the condo association can further enhance this sense of belonging.

6. Investment Potential

Condos can be a smart investment for first-time buyers. As Chicago continues to grow, demand for housing close to city centers is on the rise. The potential for appreciation in condo values over time can make them a valuable asset in the long run. Additionally, some condo owners choose to rent out their units, providing an opportunity for a passive income stream.

Now that we’ve covered the advantages condos offer let’s walk through the important steps to consider and questions to ask when finding, purchasing, and owning this property type.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo

1. What Neighborhood Should I Live In?

When buying a condo, the first step is identifying the right neighborhood that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. Consider factors such as proximity to your workplace, public transportation options, and local amenities like schools, parks, shopping centers, and entertainment venues.

Research the neighborhood’s safety, growth potential, and community atmosphere to ensure it fits your long-term goals. Licensed brokers can also provide you with the scoop on the various areas throughout Chicago and their unique advantages and charms.

2. What is My Budget?

Establishing a clear budget is crucial before starting your condo search. Condos can vary significantly in price based on location, amenities, and size.

Determine your maximum budget, including a buffer for unexpected expenses, and get pre-approved for a mortgage to understand your financing options. Be realistic about what you can afford to avoid future financial strain.

3. What Taxes and Fees Can I Expect?

When buying a condo, you need to be aware of various taxes and fees associated with the purchase. These may include property taxes, downpayment, transfer taxes, title insurance, and escrow fees. Consult with a real estate professional to get a clear understanding of all the financial implications involved in the transaction.

4. What Condo Amenities Should I Look For?

With so many luxury condo amenities on the market today, prioritizing will be crucial. Assess which amenities are essential to you and ensure that the condo you’re interested in offers the facilities you desire.

If you have a pet, consider a building with pooch-friendly amenities like dog parks and grooming stations. Or, if you’re a fitness enthusiast, find an option with state-of-the-art equipment.

Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Condo in Chicago

Understand Condo Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs)

Most condos are part of a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), which manages the shared common areas and enforces rules and regulations for the community. Before purchasing a condo, carefully review the HOA’s rules and bylaws, as they can dictate everything from pet policies to exterior modifications. Additionally, inquire about the HOA fees and what they cover to ensure they align with your budget.

Assess the Building’s Maintenance and Financial Health

A thorough inspection of the condo building must be conducted before signing anything. This way, you can assess its overall maintenance and structural integrity. Look for signs of wear and tear, as well as any potential issues that may arise in the future. Additionally, review the condo association’s financial statements to ensure the building is well-managed and financially stable.

Budget for Regular Expenses

Don’t forget to consider common costs as you plan for condo living in the Windy City. Transportation costs may include public transit fees and occasional ride-sharing expenses. Food expenses will depend on your dining habits and the type of groceries you purchase. Additionally, healthcare costs, utilities, and entertainment expenses, such as dining out or attending events, should be factored into your budget.

Decorate Your New Condo

Decorating your new space is an exciting opportunity to infuse your personality and style into every corner. Start by considering your preferred color scheme and furniture layout to create a cohesive and inviting ambiance. Utilize space-saving solutions such as multi-functional furniture and wall-mounted shelves to optimize your living area. Add personal touches with artwork, decorative accents, and indoor plants to make it feel like home. Remember, the key to successful condo decor is finding the right balance between functionality and aesthetics. 

Work with a Real Estate Broker

Navigating the condo-buying process can be complex, especially for first-time buyers. Enlist the services of a reputable real estate broker with experience in condo transactions. We have a skilled team of brokers who can guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and help you find the condo that meets your requirements and fits your budget.

Now that you’re armed with more knowledge about condos, we hope you feel confident that a condo is a good first home. Especially if you are looking for extra convenience, community, safety, and more, chances are you should buy a condo before a house. As you navigate this process, you don’t have to do it alone! Let our experienced team walk you through every step of the way.

Work with Luxury Living

Work With Us

Get in touch with Luxury Living's team of experienced licensed real estate brokers and take the first step in buying or selling a home in Chicago.