Freeholds are what many think of when they think of owning a home. This is when you own the house and property that house is on. Although these tend to be the most costly of the three types, freeholds allow freedoms the other types of ownership prohibit. The freedom is very attractive and entails levels of privacy especially in freestanding homes (not duplexes or townhouses) from neighbors and others. Pets and smoking – two heavily regulated issues for renters and in other forms of home ownership – are solely up to the homeowner in this regard. As far as liabilities, the freehold homeowner is responsible for all maintenance, repairs, upgrades or any problems that arise in his or her home. These, of course, can be costly at times, but many find the freedom to do what they want well worth these infrequent expenses.
Condominiums are the second type of home ownership. They tend to be cheaper than freeholds. The owner of a condo is responsible for maintaining the inside of the unit and pays a fee (usually monthly) to the condo association or groundskeeper for things like lawn maintenance, garbage removal or other various expenses. The catch is that condominiums do not allow the same amount of freedom freeholds do by imposing regulations on noise, upgrade/renovations and pet ownership. It is much like living in an apartment complex only instead of paying rent to a landlord and building any equity, you own the unit and are only obligated to pay upkeep fees.
For those looking to own a home, but not yet financially prepared for a freehold mortgage or condo, cooperatives may be the way to go. Cooperatives or co-ops are groups of people who pool their money to own a collection of homes. These originated in the 1960s in response to many families who could not afford freeholds and were unsatisfied with the quality of rental properties. Realtytimes.com states the three basic types of co-ops are:
- Building Co-operatives: The earliest co-ops appeared in Eastern Canada where citizens banded together in order to build and finance their homes. Once construction was complete, they divided the properties into separate titles with separate mortgages.
- Continuing Co-operatives: Members rent from the co-operative, but also control and own it, preserving it for future members. Non-profit co-ops are of this form, established under federal and/or provincial guidelines, built with government funding and supported with rent-geared-to-income programs.
- Equity Co-operatives: These share-based forms, where residents benefit from appreciation in value, are distinguished from condominiums as the property is held by the co-op.