janigal, Home Buyer in Orlando, FL

Okay this might seem a stupid question, but I am not from the US. What is the differences between a condo and an apartment.?

Asked by janigal, Orlando, FL Fri Jan 4, 2013

I stay in the UK and am looking to buy a holiday home - well a 1 bedroom apartment, but everywhere I look says condo. What are the differences between condos and apartments?

Help the community by answering this question:


Me again. When you buy a condo you want to make sure that the area is safe. You can find the report on crime rates in residential complexes in Altamonte on the website of the Altamonte Springs Police Department: http://www.altamonte.org/assets/ASPD/Reports/Residential%20R…

I think that there is only residential zoning in Altamonte but I am not sure. Zoning for vacation rentals are mainly South, e.g. in Kissimmee close to the parks. I like Altamonte much better. The area is nice, lots of lakes and trees and only about 35 Minutes by car to New Smyrna Beach. I bought a condo at the Oasis at Pearl lake, a lake front community and I like it a lot but will rent it out until I retire and then use it myself. Lakewood Park is supposed to be nice, too. Both have good public transport and are close to shops.

You also need to consider closing costs. Sometimes the seller will pay closing costs. I can also give you contact information in case you need a good reliable handyman. He is not the cheapest but reasonable and he does great work and is reliable. I contacted several companies but as soon as they hear that I am from Germany nobody gets back to me even though I have a property manager (Verandah Properties) in Orlando who would pay the invoice. I am also very happy with my property manager but she does only long term rentals, but she replies asap to any questions I have and gets things done. You get great deals if you buy a Foreclosure. You can put in an offer and have ususally 2 weeks to get a house inspection done. If the condo has major issues you can either ask the seller to drop the price or get out of the contract. I had a great real estate agent: Alex Galitzky: news@TopOrlandoRealty.com. He replies immediately even on weekends (which is very appreciated) and is just great. If you need to contact me: yucaiapa@web.de.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2013
In my case the real estate agent was also paid by the seller. So not costs for me but a great service. I can highly recommend Alex.
Flag Thu Feb 7, 2013
Thanks, the information you have given me will be invaluable. I will be flying out there, from Glasgow, in April for 3 months. Hopefully that will be enough time for me to get to know different areas around Altamonte Springs.
Flag Thu Feb 7, 2013
An apartment is generally a rental. A condo has a Condo Association and the units within the condo building are owned by different owners. The owner can be an individual or corporation. Same concept with a townhome.. Has a Homeowners association and owned by individual owners. The associations handle the common areas for the condo and townhome communities.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 14, 2013
A condo is just a form of ownership; an apartment is literally a living unit inside a larger building.

For the purposes of property registration, a condo is a simple way of identifying apartment ownership - basically, you can buy and sell Apartment #8C.

Since apartment buildings have common areas, hallways, rooftops, et cetera, homeowners have a share in that, as well.

Because a condominium is an easy way to divide property that has common areas like hallways, some detached properties are condos, especially if they have common driveways, landscaping, or some other feature that is jointly owned by homeowners.

So: apartment is the property type, condo is the ownership type.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2013
In the United States, condos are typically owned by individuals, while apartment buildings are typically owned by one landlord, who rents out individual apartments within the building.

And of course, I live in Miami... where the two terms are used completely interchangeably!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2013
thank you : ) Looking forward to getting out to FL in April for 3 months.
Flag Thu Feb 7, 2013
I am from Germany and bought a condo 2 years ago. Not sure how it is in the UK but in Germany I can do with my property whatenver I want (long-term or short term rental) in the US you need to check the zoning. In Germany we also sign lease contracts that continue if not cancelled while in the US tenants sign usually a 1 year lease agreement and the agreement mus be renewed each year . Here is the difference to the US from a German point of view:

- short term/vacation rentals are only allowed in certain zones- if you intend to rent out your condo when you are not using it yourself, you must buy a condo in the respective zone.
- I believe HOA fees for short term rental zones are higher than in residential zoning. And I think taxes are highter, too. But I am sure some of the professional real estate agents can answer these questions.
- Thus, if you want to use the condo solely yourself / family members I recommend to buy a condo in a residential zone.
- money wires are not common, payments are done via check and snailmail so you need an US bank account. I am unable to wire money from bank account to bank account and need to pay my HOA fees by check. If you have Progress Energy turn on your electricity, they require a 200 USD deposit and usually they will send you their monthly statements by mail (not e-mail) to be paid by check! So if you are not in the US this might cause a problem. I got a friend who lives in Florida who takes care of this, my real estate agent won't.
- you also need to check HOA financials and if they have a good reserve. Due to huminity buildings need a lot of maintenance.
- even if it states central a/c - it is solely your responsibility to fix/replace it. Check what is included in HOA fee (e.g. water). In the US they use water heaters instead of the European small electric heaters. This is solely your responsibility. Replacement was over 700 USD. You can sign an insurance that covers most of the costs (Warranty insurance about 500 USD/year plus a trade call fee for every time they show between 30 and 100 Dollars - check rates!) and I would recommend it unless everything is new(er) in the condo.
- I was told you need a/c running (low) even if nobody is living there or there is a good chance to get mold in your apartment. Also not open windows (Germans don't have a/c we sleep with open windows) if humid outside (mold). Energy prices are high. My tenant pais about 150$ per month for a/c for 667 square feet.
- also take insurances into account. Buidling insurance is provided by HOA but you need landlord insurance in case someone gets hurt in your condo (about 500/year). If you use the condo yourself, you need a home owners insurance that also covers your stuff in it. If you use it as vacation rental, insurance is probably high because condo is vacant a lot. My landlord insurance is cancelled if my tenant moves and the condo is not rented within a couple of weeks because they don't cover vacant condos. Its a bit difficult sometimes to deal with this from abroad.
- a property manager (long term rentals) takes 10 % or more every month from rent, one month rent for new leases, about 100 USD for lease renewals.
- also take taxes into account. In Germany taxes are not increased with the value of the property. My taxes in Florida were raised 100 USD because real estate market is better now and properties have more value. I pay about 500 USD/year now ) only 100 Euro/year in Germany for a larger place.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
Hi Sybille, just to saying thanks again, and to let you know that I have now purchased my Condo, at Oasis at Pearl Lake, so I might even get the chance to meet you in person :))
Flag Fri Jun 21, 2013
Thank you so much for this detailed information. This is very helpful to me and will give me a bit more info to go.
Flag Wed Feb 6, 2013

I agree with Julie below. And in addition to all the Legal issues she mentioned below there are some Structural issues. Many properties were built to be rental apartments, and as such the drain pipes and even some electric circuits on the walls may be shared by several adjacent units. The units may only be divided by extra insulation as a sound buffer. When a building is designed to be sold as individual condos, there is emphasis on there being solid unit partitions, dedicated drain pipes, electric circuits, A/C ducts and no common crawl space. This is an important factor to keep in mind when purchasing an older unit that may have been originally used as rental apartments and later repurposed and sold as Condo units. Was this answer helpful? If so please click on the "green thumbs up" or the "best answer".
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 4, 2013

Your question is excellent. Many real estate search portals use the two terms differently, sometimes interchangeably. But to be correct, the two terms are not interchangeable. ..If the property you are considering is part of a Condominim Association, understanding before you decide to buy all the details about what your ownership rights, responsibilites and limitations would be, is required by the State of Florida. If the property is a condominium, it has documentation of its ownership rights, responsibilities and limitations in the Condominium Association's recorded Documents, By-Laws, Rules and Regulations.. The condominium association's fiscal budget is also to be reviewed by potential buyers, because the maintenance fees and other assessments owners pay to the condo association are determined by the condominium association's budget. There are imprtant matters to know about, such as, are there major repairs or shortfalls in the budget that require special assessments to be paid? And the list goes on. Condominium buyers in Florida review those documents before deciding to buy . I recommend you team up and hire a local Florida attorney experienced in real estate, title and closings, to represent you in your purchase and review all documentation for you, including the Condo Documents and Budget, your Purchase Contract , Deed, Title Policy and related Closing Documents, and your HUD-I Settlement Statement ..

See All listings and get Free information at http://www.BUY-SELL-RENT-FLORIDA.com
. Julie Rosenthal, Broker, ABR, GRI, EcoBroker, TRC, CAM
Your Florida "go-to" Real Estate Expert
(561)827-6789 mobile phone julier6789@gmail.com
Propery Brokers International
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 4, 2013
Hi janigal,

There are no "stupid questions...." actually, this is a good one....

There are many terms in real estate that are confusing....there can be several different terms that actually define the same type of subject property. With this said, "apartment" is a term generally associated with rental units while condo may imply ownership. On the other hand, condos can be rented as well.

If you are buying, you should probably focus your attention on listings that are shown as condos, villas, or townhomes.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 4, 2013
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