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What's the Difference Between an Apartment & a Condo?

What Are the Differences Between Condos & Apartments?

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Across San Diego, you can find many apartments and condominium units. You’re more likely to find condos in downtown San Diego, but once you get into other parts of the county, particularly those around UC San Diego, apartments are more common. The difference between these two types of homes doesn’t mean much to architects because they see both as housing units. However, the distinction matters to economists who research housing markets, and it’s even more important to urban planners, developers, real estate professionals, and mortgage lending specialists.

For prospective homebuyers, condos are housing units they’ll be able to occupy and have direct financial control over. Individuals who prefer renting are more likely to find apartments, although they can also rent condos from the units’ owners.

“Apartment” & “Condominium” Have Different Etymological Origins

Getting back to the architectural view of condos and apartments, the latter applies to multifamily buildings that are split into units for rental purposes. The word “apartment” comes from French and Italian and denotes dwellings that are part of larger structures. The word “condominium” comes from Latin and means shared dominion over ownership.

There Are More Apartments to Rent than Condos to Sell

Apartment buildings and complexes are ideal for real estate investors who want to squeeze as much profit as possible from multifamily structures. For this reason, many investors acquire or develop buildings to rent as apartments. In these cases, property management entities act as landlords working on behalf of the owners. Condominiums are managed under homeowners association regimes, which means condo buyers share ownership interest in the structure while retaining full ownership of their units. If the homeowners association allows it, units can be made available for rental purposes.

Condominiums Can Be Converted into Apartments & Vice Versa

The county and city councils have authority over condo conversion projects. Condominiums may be approved for conversion to full rental operations, meaning a single entity will control the structure and the units as if they were apartments. Some “garden apartment” complexes in Southern California have been turned into condominiums. Many of the units in these areas are villas with courtyards and open parking spaces, which makes the complexes end up looking like gated communities.

Apartments & Condominiums Compete in Terms of Amenities

Some members of the Millennial generation aren’t sold on the American dream of home ownership—thus driving them toward renting apartments—but they won’t think twice about renting condo units from individual owners if they like the amenities. The traditional Southern California apartment amenities (typically a swimming pool and a single tennis court) are no longer enough to entice millennial tenants. They prefer the upscale gyms, underground parking, security, lounge areas, and rooftop pools with fire pits found in various downtown San Diego condominium towers.

Whether you’re considering buying a condo to live in or you want to purchase one to generate rental income, downtown San Diego is definitely the place to look. If you need advice on buying a condo, call on the professionals at 92101 Urban Living, the experts on every aspect of buying and selling real estate in downtown San Diego. Give us a call today at 619-649-0368.