To buy or not to buy?: The pros and cons of owning a condo

First-time homebuyers normally find it difficult to decide whether or not they should buy a condo unit or not. The lack of understanding about the condominium has added to the difficulty in making such a decision.  

A “condominium” is defined by Republic Act No. 4726 or The Condominium Act as “an interest in real property consisting of separate interest in a unit in a residential, industrial or commercial building, and an undivided interest in common, directly or indirectly, in the land on which it is located and in other common areas of the building.”

The “condominium” is a Latin derivative word from the early 18th century; “con” meaning together with and “dominium” meaning right of ownership. Merriam-Webster simply defines it as “individual ownership of a unit in a multi-unit structure (such as an apartment building) or on land owned in common (such as a townhouse complex).”


Condominiums are not limited to mid-to-high rise buildings. Units that share common walls like apartments, semi-detached units, townhouses, row houses, parking slots, and with common areas, facilities, amenities and driveways, can be classified as condominiums, provided that the development complies with the pertinent legal and technical provisions of law.

A condominium project broadly covers the following that are properly reflected in their Master Deed of Restrictions:  

a. Land where the building/s and improvements are located; 

b. Building/s, their units and floors, parking, whether above or below ground;

c. Common areas, facilities and or amenities; 

d. Purpose/s for which the building/s and units are intended or restricted; 

e. Interest of the owners in their units and common areas; and

f. Rights of the unit owners.

Pros of ownership

Condominium units are generally more affordable than a house and lot due to its smaller size and lower land cost compared to expensive locations.

These projects are attractive because they are conveniently located in highly-dense areas and/or within business districts, thus a short distance to malls, groceries and supermarkets, healthcare facilities, laundry shops, etc.

Most have amenities like pools, gyms and fitness rooms, lounge areas and function rooms, kids areas and playgrounds, oftentimes not available to house and lot owners unless they live in a gated community.

Among the major considerations of owning a condominium unit is the availability of 24/7  security. Moreover, residents have additional peace of mind because of installed CCTVs, smoke detectors and fire sprinkles.

Many buyers need not worry about repairs and maintenance in common areas. Even in their own units, residents can expect the assistance of condominium technicians to be available for urgent concerns while having access to an array of fee-based third party providers for non-urgent issues.

Cons and concerns

Traditionalist buyers, however, complain about not being able to personally own the land where their units stand.

Some buyers don’t like their rights and movements restricted because of the stringent master deeds, by-laws and house rules. Renovations are likewise controlled, especially if it affects the building’s structure or exterior appearance. 

Selected buyers complained about their difficulty in expanding their spaces, while some residents expressed concerns about privacy issues due to the large number of units and or constant monitoring by security cameras.

Condominium corporations also require the payment of monthly dues or fees needed to cover their operational costs such as salaries for administration staff, cleaners, security guards, technicians, common utility charges, real estate taxes, periodic repairs, pool cleaning, preventive maintenance for elevators, generators, pumps and water tanks. Additional condominium assessments may be imposed to cover building exterior and common area repainting and the rehabilitation of amenities.  

Condo market

But a condo is a good starter unit for first-time buyers and even for others. 

They are extremely popular among frequent travelers, empty nesters and seniors. Foreigners are also attracted to the condo because they are allowed to purchase these units provided the condominium corporation remains 60-percent Filipino-owned.

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Henry L. Yap is an architect, environmental planner, real estate practitioner and former professorial lecturer.