For parents, sending their children off to college is a major milestone in life. Besides facing the empty nest syndrome, they are also confronted with the high cost of college tuition. Many parents try to defer some of that expense by opting out of traditional dorm housing or renting an apartment for their student and decide instead to buy a condo for them to live in as an investment. While there are some valid reasons to invest in a condo for college students, there are also some facts you need to consider that may change your mind.

With the recent downturn in the real estate market, making any kind of condo purchase should be well thought out before hand. The Chicago real estate market hasn't suffered as badly as some other areas of the U.S., but there is still a glut of inventory and reselling may take much longer than you anticipate. Most experts say that it takes about six to seven years of home ownership before you can sell at a profit, so with a typical college education only taking four years, your condo won't have enough time to appreciate. Another factor to consider is that towns or neighborhoods that have large colleges often get a reputation as being a "party town" and aren't as appealing to the typical home buyer. The value of the condo may not appreciate as much as one in another neighborhood would.

There are plenty of resale condos like the ones listed here as well as student oriented housing such as Ivy Hall at University Village. You can find just about any size condo in any price range in Chicago right now, so there is no shortage of homes if you're looking to invest.

The main areas where parents often miscalculate are how much the condo is going to cost in the long run in terms of maintenance and fees, how much their profit will be when they sell and how well their child is going to be able to take care of the property on their own.

There are going to be expenses besides your monthly mortgage payment. Utilities, maintenance, taxes, condo association fees and insurance are just a few of the other costs associated with owning a condo. Liability insurance is a must, in the event that an accident takes place at a college party held at the condo and you are held responsible.

That brings up the other point about your child's level of maturity or responsibility. Is he or she willing or able to take proper care of the condo, including cleaning and keeping visiting friends from damaging the property in any way? College is challenging, and some students may not be up to the added pressure of taking care of a condo. And if they aren't into housekeeping, that means either you will have to do it or hire a service, which is another expense.

Also consider that there is a possibility, for whatever reason, that your child won't want to live there for four years. He or she could decide to switch colleges, drop out, join the military or any number of other scenarios. They might even decide they are missing out on student life and want to move into a dorm after a few months. Then you'll find yourself stuck with a condo, mortgage and no tenant unless you can find a suitable renter.

As for profit, you should sit down and carefully figure all of your expenses, including the mortgage. If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, those usually have a lower fixed rate for the first few years before the rate increases, so you could reasonably take advantage of that and sell the home before the higher rate kicks in.

Buying a condo for your college bound son or daughter may seem like a great contribution to their education, well-being and overall happiness all while making a profit for yourself. But any type of real estate investment carries a certain amount of risk, especially if you are counting on turning it around and selling in four years. Perhaps the best reason to purchase a condo for a student is not for a quick profit but for experience and long term investment.

Paula Cherrist writes articles about Chicago condos for sale, home trends and new homes for About Chicago Real Estate.
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