In the Real Estate business, a question I get asked quite often by home buyers is, “What do you think about purchasing a condominium in Bozeman?” It usually only takes about three minutes for me to explain the realities before a customer gives me the thumbs up, or waves their hands at me and says, “let’s start with homes first!” I also get asked why I don’t live in a condo—and I explain I’d literally be your nightmare neighbor. I love to play musical instruments, especially guitar; I play them loud, often, and sometimes late at night. That is why I live in a house!
Let me note, this article has been written to present the realities of condo living. I believe some condo properties are excellent investments and that some people are suitable for the condominium lifestyle.
Most prospective condo buyers in Bozeman fall into four categories:
- The desire to live close to Downtown Main Street.
- A first-time buyer that sees more value in condos, because they feel they are getting more for their money. Mainly due to the fact that the properties are recently constructed or if older are less costly to update.
- Parents of MSU students who want an investment property to house their child while attending college.
- People looking for a second home to use for recreating in the winter and summer months.
Like every major decision, there are pros and cons to buying a condo. It is important to weigh these important factors.
Pros to Buying a Condo in Bozeman:
- Affordability: Condominiums are often priced lower than single-family homes and you are closer to Downtown Bozeman. If you want to dive into home ownership, a condo can be a great first step.
- Maintenance: One of the biggest benefits of living in a condo is that other people do most of the maintenance for you. They cut the grass, shovel snow, maintain the grounds, and fix the roof. This is huge for you if you’re busy with work, like to travel.. .or if you are worried that all the extra work associated with home ownership will cut into the amount of days you spend at Bridger Bowl!
- Security: Some condominiums offer security professionals and surveillance cameras for residents safety. In addition, living within a close proximity to many other people is a huge benefit in an emergency.
- Amenities: Some properties have the added bonus of a community club house, fitness center, or nature trail.
- Long Term or VRBO Rental: Lease properties are in demand, so in the event you do decide to move is very easy to find a tenants. MSU brings a flood of possible renters for the long term, and the multitude of recreational activities around Bozeman allows for great Vacation Rentals (VRBO).
Cons to Buying a Condo in Bozeman:
- Homeowners Association Fees: Maintenance, security, periodic updating, grounds keepers, and administrative employees all cost money. These fees will also cover water and sewer on some properties as well. When you buy a condo, you essentially become a business partner in that community. You pay a monthly fee each month (in addition to your mortgage) which goes towards the upkeep of the property, as well as future investments (e.g. new lighting for the parking lot or exterior paint). HOA fees vary depending on the location, size, and quality of your community, but plan on spending at least $200 a month in association fees.
- Lack of Privacy: Condo living usually involves having neighbors on the other side of the wall, and neighbors going up and down the hall at all hours of the day and night. If zen-like serenity is what you are looking for, a condo may not be the right choice.
- Storage Space: Unless the condo you are looking at has a private garage or locker, you’re going to have to think about seriously downsizing your recreational toys and household items.
- Selling Can Be a Challenge: Flat out, condos can be harder to sell. One of the main reasons is that they look very similar to each other, and there is a larger amount of them on the market. If there are empty units in your building, those are typically going to sell first. And if there are a handful of empty units… best of luck!
- Rules, Rules, Rules: Living in a condo means you have to live by the HOA’s governing rules. For instance, there may be a cap on the size and quantity of animals you can have. If you’re caught breaking the rules, you could be fined until you are in compliance. Most of the rules are set in place to benefit the complex and maintain a uniform presence, but some rules can be challenging to abide by.
- Slow Appreciation: Condominiums often appreciate in value much slower than homes. This is because you own a very small amount of land. Land tends to be primary push for rapid appreciation. In addition there is always going to be a newer complex popping up down the street. And I cannot forget to mention ‘Fee Simple Properties‘ vs. ’Lease Hold Properties‘- A Fee Simple property is ownership of real property, or the land underneath which the building sits. A Lease Hold property is land that is owned by another party, in which after a term of years can be taken back. Yes, that means they could decide to not renew their lease with the condo community and tear down the buildings. *Please call me for more clarification on this as most condo properties in the state of Montana are not Lease Hold Properties.
Final Statement: Buying a condo takes a lot of research and due diligence! First and foremost get your financing secured, condo loans are not typically as simple as conventional financing on single-family homes. If you’re on the fence even after reading this article, the best thing to do is for us to schedule to view a handful of condo properties around Bozeman. It will put condo living into serious prospective and allow you to get a grip on these pro and cons.
Prudential Montana Real Estate