Rent vs Buy in Philadelphia>Question Details

Toni, Other/Just Looking in Philadelphia, PA

Is it a good investment to buy a condo and use it as a rental property?

Asked by Toni, Philadelphia, PA Sat Jan 17, 2009

Help the community by answering this question:


Yes this is a good investment primarily because condominiums are usually high in demand in urban areas where there are a lot of office workers who want to access their places of occupation much easier than living in the suburbs. However, owning a condo could also expose you to more fees especially with the home owners' association dues. You should always project these expenses, and the expenses you incur while your condominium is vacant if you are looking at condos as an investment. A good investment not only provides the best returns, but also a stable cash flow so that you can allocate that cash in other investments you may have.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 21, 2013
Great Question Toni and as a landlord/investor myself, the answer is in the numbers, specifically the cash flow and return on investment. I use a spreadsheet that takes in all of the parameters and shows you the numbers right down to a five or year sale price projection and proceeds estimate.

The advantages that most condos provide is a lower maintenance factor as most keep up the exterior of the building, the roof, lawn maintenance/snow removal.. For a "seasoned property", as long as the numbers work and you look at the condo docs thoroughly, Though a property may be a good investment from a cash flow standpoint however from an ROE standpoint condos do seem to appreciate more slowly in a normal market than single family homes and may lose value quicker in a slow market due to more value being available with a high inventory of single family homes on the market. The bottom line is you have to do your homework and take a close look at all of the options in the market to determine what best fits your needs.

Best of luck!


Kevin P. Comerford
Real Estate Agent and REALTOR
Residential and Commercial Properties
Coldwell Banker Preferred
610 E. Baltimore Pike
Media, PA 19063
Office - 610-566-1100
Office Direct - 484-468-1053
Mobile - 610-513-3478
Fax - 484-229-1290
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 8, 2009
You may be able to find a good investment with a Condo but it is the same thing as finding a home with positive cash flow. You have to do your numbers, including taxes, condo fees, and what market rent is in that building. Also check to see what the condo fee includes, if it includes any utilities then you can offer your tenant a great incentive. Rent that includes some or all utilities, just hike up the monthly rent to cover it but make sure you are still making money. Try the Murano at 21st & Market right in the business district, it is going to auction on June 27th and you may be able to get yourself a great steal there.
For more details contact me at the below info.

Carmel Archdekin
Coldwell Banker Preferred
223-225 Market Street
Philadelphia PA 19106
Office: 215.923.7600
Cell: 215.680.5998
EFax: 215.940.8207
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 8, 2009
Don't buy a condo for a rental property unless you are an experienced landlord. A condominium complex can go downhill very quickly, particularly if too many units are sold to investors. Also, the HOA fees can go up, wiping out your ability to make a profit.
More importantly, don't buy in a brand-new building where it is impossible to know what the level of rents will be. I suspect many builders are pushing hard to find investors for condos they can't sell to live-in owners in the current market environment.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 18, 2009

This depends on the location, how much you pay for the unit, and what your expenses are. The key is finding an opportunity that requires as little "out of pocket" money as possible.

A real estate professional can provide the insight you need to be able to mke an informed decision. Contact an agent today.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 18, 2009
If you're working a full time job, have a family and other obligations, buying a condo for a rental property is certainly a good bet. You just have to find a unit that is priced right and you have enough money to put down where the rent will cover the expenses of holding the property. Condos are good for rentals because to maintain a condo is much easier than a house or other unit since the grounds and exterior maintenance are usually the responsibility of the homeowners association or the management company.

Good luck! Answers are always free by the way so contact me anytime!

Ralph Windschuh
Century 21 Princeton Properties
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 18, 2009
Hello, Toni,

I presently own two condos which are rental properties, but also have owned other non-condo rentals. Here are some things to consider:
1. What will be your bottom line - rent income vs. expenses out. Condo fees to take up a part of that
2. If you own a non-condo, you have to factor in the cost of roof repairs, exterior building maintenance, snow removal, lawn care, etc. If you are not able to take care of these things yourself, you will have out of pocket expenses which could very likely add up to a condo fee.

Having owned both types of rental property, I must say that the condo is the easier way to go for me. I don't have to worry about shoveling the sidewalk, etc. in the bad weather. The lawns are always maintained, etc. Another issue is property values. In a condo situation, the exteriors are all maintained by the association, therefore, your property value is protected from having slovenly neighbors who do not take care of their homes.

If you can make the Dollars work, go for the condo. If there is anything else I can help you with, please visit my website at

Carol Murray Cei
ReMax Millennium
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 18, 2009
Hi Toni,
The market I work in (Ocean City, Md.) has a significant number of condo properties that are purchased and used as rental properties. When I am looking at properties with a buyer, I can show them either what the property has generated in rental income in the past, or what the potential income would be, if that particular property has not been used for investment previously. I would compare the property we are looking at, to a similar unit in the same building.

A great feature for many purchasers is if there is existing rentals that the new buyer would be honoring. That ensures that the new owner is stepping right into an ongoing established revenue stream.

Know all of your expenses. Weigh that against the income, and see where you are. Remember those numbers do not count any tax savings you will receive for owning the investment property. So after your taxes you should do even better.

Have fun. Real estate can be a great source of passive income. Acquire properties, hang onto them, pay down the debt, and over time your rental rates will go up.

My best.
Monica McNamara
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 17, 2009
Hi Toni, I would add to this that if you are considering investing in a rental property you need to ensure that the rent you will be able to collect (you need to research what other similar units in the area are renting for) is more than enough to cover: the mortgage, insurance, taxes, any maintenance, loss from months you hold it vacant, and any other fees associated with rental licenses and such. After all of those expenses you should still have some profit coming in, otherwise you will likely run into additional costs you did not anticipate and the rental unit will be costing you money every month to own.

Please contact me if you have further questions or would like to view available properties to purchase. My wife and I are REALTORS in Philadelphia

Dale Archdekin
Coldwell Banker Preferred Old City
223-225 Market St.
Philadelphia PA 19106
Direct: 215-370-1236
Office: 215-923-7600
Fax: 215-940-8207
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 17, 2009
Possibly. There are many factors to consider in choosing an investment property. Location, local laws and regulations, availability of renters, tax implications, etc. I would suggest finding a good Realtor who would be able to help you make the best decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 17, 2009
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