Should I buy a single-family home or a condo?

Buyers put on reporter's hat to make best decision

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For decades, the single-family residence has been the favored investment for buyers who wanted to purchase and occupy a property. Condos were looked at as a poor second choice. Some ownership rights are given up when you buy a condo. Also, you own parts of the complex with other people with whom you or may not get along. With a house, you're the sole owner and ruler of the roost. Sometimes condo complexes end up in litigation. For example, many condo associations have had to sue the builder for shoddy workmanship. It can be difficult to sell a condo while there's pending litigation affecting the complex. However, perhaps the major reason why condos haven't been the investment of choice is that they have trailed single-family residences in terms of home price appreciation. For decades, single-family residences appreciated at much higher rates than did condominiums. In 2003, however, the rate of condo appreciation surpassed the single-family rate for the first time. This trend has con...