Condo and Apartment, What’s the Difference?

It is easy to feel a bit dazed and confused after a day of viewing potential new homes. After multiple viewings, they can all start to look the same. But have you ever wondered what the difference is between an apartment and a condo? They look exactly the same! If you have, you’re right. They are aesthetically no different from one another. The difference between an apartment and a condo is purely legal.

Condos and apartments are essentially both apartments that are part of a bigger building. Where a condo differs from an apartment is in terms of ownership. Condos are apartments sold individually to different owners. The same building in its entirety could be owned by one person and the apartments inside rented (but not owned!) to separate people.

A condo is typically defined as a group of houses that are individually owned on one piece of land. When you own a condo, you don’t own the land it is built on but instead you buy the air containing the borders of your condo. You can find out precisely what these borders are in the declaration document.

When you own a condo you are buying a piece of real estate with access to communal areas such as hallways, elevators and gardens. You can find out exactly what these common areas are in a document called the master deed. These common areas are managed by the home owners association that elects a board to deal with the daily running of the condo. This board will represent the building as a whole and will act on the general will of the owners. The board will decide upon the rules and regulations of the condo including pet ownership, maintenance money for the upkeep of communal areas and external decorating restrictions. If you are unsure what the rules and regulations of you condo are they can usually be found through a search engine if you type on the name of your condo association.

Detached condos are also available whereby individual houses are separately owned but the grounds including gardens, courtyards etc are not looked after by the homeowners. In this situation home owners have a greater say in the outside looks of housing. Restrictions are put in place in order to keep streets looking uniform. Detached condos, however, are very rare in Bangkok due to its basis as a high-rise city and also because of a lack of development space.

The concept of condo ownership can also apply to other building types including offices, shops, and hotels although this is also very rare with businesses preferring to make independent stylistic decisions and have a greater flexibility in the daily running of their business space.