Condo Living

My customers often ask me:

  • What exactly is a condominium?
  • For tax purposes, how does it compare to renting?
  • How does it differ from owning a single family home?

There are condominium developments zoned for many locales, in many price ranges and in a wide variety of building styles. A development may consist of an apartment-style high-rise, a row of two story townhouses, an area of ranch side-by-sides, converted warehouse lofts, or even free-standing villas, to name only a few types and sizes.

Buyers of either a condominium or a single family residence have similar choices regarding location, style, price, and amenities.

The condo buyer purchasing a single unit in a development owns, pays taxes on, and may sell 100% of everything within the walls of that unit. In a development having fifty units, for example, a buyer assumes a proportionate share, based on the relative size of the unit ( not necessarily a one-fiftieth share), of the responsibility for the common elements of the development including the land, the walls, roof, hallways, elevators and stairways in a shared building, and as well, any recreational facilities belonging to the development such as pools, courts, clubhouses, or courses.

Each unit owner automatically becomes a member of that condo association and agrees to abide by a set of rules, the by-laws, also called the condominium documents (condo docs.), contained in the Declaration of Condominium for the development, which specifies the site plan, the number of units, and the architectural drawings of the units.

Each condo member pays a monthly fee, determined by an elected board of association members, to share in the maintenance of the common elements, to provide common area insurance and to establish a reserve fund for future expense. The board may choose to manage the property itself or to hire a management company to do so.

Be aware that some general information available about condos may not apply in Wisconsin. Each state has statutes governing condominium law. In Wisconsin, these have recently been revised. Read more about Residential Condominium Laws.