I work with a ton of first time home buyers. They might be my favourite type of buyer. They are almost always super excited! Usually, they have been renting for a while and have recently realized the benefits of owning their own home. The 3 most common types of properties that first time buyers end up choosing, whether due to money or lifestyle are:
1: Apartment Style Condos
Apartment style condos can be a great place to start for first time buyers. Depending on the location and style, these are usually the lowest cost of entry to home ownership. Generally, condo fees are going to be a little higher than the other property types on this list, however, they typically include some, if not all, of your utilities. It is very common for apartment condo fees to include your heat and water/sewer. Some will even include electricity and cable tv.
A major benefit of condos is that you are essentially forced to save for repairs via your condo fees so when the roof needs to be replaced, if the complex has been managed properly, you shouldn’t be out of pocket for the repairs.
Townhouses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Typically, they are larger than apartment style condos and include multiple levels (2 storey, 2 storey plus basement, bungalow style plus basement, etc). Townhouses are sort of a blend between traditional “apartment condo living” and “detached home living”. Townhouses have the feel of a house but the benefits of having the exterior maintenance and landscaping handled by the condo corporation. The downside is that your home is literally attached to one or more other properties.
Townhouse condo fees are usually lower than you would find in the average apartment condo, however they typically do not include any utilities. Most townhouses have their own furnace and hot water tank that you are responsible for as well.
3: Half Duplex
A half duplex is essentially two homes that are joined by a common wall. For many, the idea of paying condo fees every month is a turn off, but they can’t afford a detached home yet. Again, these can come in many shapes and sizes. There are 2 storeys, bungalows, split levels and variations on each.
A half duplex can be a great way to get in the door of home ownership and maintain the freedom of not having to conform to the rules and by-laws of a condo corporation.
While you do have more freedom, it’s important to remember that any maintenance and repairs are solely your responsibility.