Condominiums and townhouse offer an affordable option to single-family homes in most areas. But consider these facts before you buy.
Storage. Some condos have storage lockers, but usually there are no attics or basements to hold extra belongs.
Outdoor space. Yards and outdoor areas are usually smaller in condos, so if you like to garden or entertain outdoors, this may not be a good fit. However, if you hate yard work, this may be perfect option for you.
Amenities. Many condo properties have swimming pools, fitness centers, and other facilities that would be very expensive in a single-family home.
Maintenance. Many condos have onsite maintenance personnel to care for common areas, do repairs in your unit, and let in workers when you're not home.
Security. Many condos have keyed entries and or even doormen. Plus, you'll be closer to other people in case of an emergency.
Reserve funds and association fees. Although fees generally help pay for amenities and provide savings for future repairs, you will have to pay the fees agreed to by the condo board, whether or not you're interested in the amenity.
Resale. The ease of selling your unit is more dependent on what else is for sale in your building, since units are usually fairly similar. Single-family homes are usually more individual, so even if there are others for sale in your area, they probably won't be exactly like yours.
Freedom. Although you have a vote, the rules of the condo association can affect your ability to use your property. For example, some condos prohibit home-based businesses. Others prohibit pets. Read the covenants, restrictions, and bylaws of the condo carefully before you make an offer.
Proximity. You're much closer to your neighbors in a condo or town home. Look at profile of other owners be sure you'll be comfortable. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors.
Condo Associations. Nearly 42 million Americans live in condos, coops, and communities governed by such associations.
10 Questions to Ask The Condo Associations:
Before you buy, contact the condo board with the following questions. In the process, you'll learn how responsive—and organized—its members are.
1. What percentage of units is owner-occupied? What percentage is tenant-occupied? Generally, the higher the percentage of owner-occupied units, the more marketable the units will be at resale.
2. What covenants, bylaws, and restrictions govern the property? What grandfather clauses are in place? You may find, for instance, that those who buy a property after a certain date can't rent out their units, but buyers who bought earlier can. Ask for a copy of the bylaws to determine if you can live within them. Review of the Declaration of Condominium Owner’s Association Documents, by-laws, current operating budget reports and the last 6 months of the condo association meeting minutes. Have an attorney review property docs, including the master deed, for you.
3. How much does the association keep in reserve? How is that money being invested?
4. Are association assessments keeping pace with the annual rate of inflation? Smart boards raise assessments a certain percentage each year to build reserves to fund future repairs. To determine if the assessment is reasonable, compare the rate to others in the area.
5. What does and doesn't the assessment cover—common area maintenance, recreational facilities, trash collection, snow removal?
6. What special assessments have been mandated in the past five years? How much was each owner responsible for? Some special assessments are unavoidable. But repeated, expensive assessments could be a red flag about the condition of the building or the board's fiscal policy.
7. How much turnover occurs in the building?
8. Is the project in litigation? If the builders or homeowners are involved in a lawsuit, reserves can be depleted quickly.
9. Is the developer reputable? Find out what other projects the developer has built and visit one if you can. Ask residents about their perceptions. Request an engineer's report for developments that have been reconverted from other uses to determine what shape the building is in. If the roof, windows, and bricks aren't in good repair, they become your problem once you buy.
10. Are multiple associations involved in the property? In very large developments, umbrella associations, as well as the smaller association into which you're buying, may require separate assessments.
Not all condominium, townhome and patio home residents are retired. Many younger professionals seek the luxury of upscale patio home developments because they would rather be hiking, skiing, and playing tennis or golf on the weekends, instead of mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters. Higher-density home types are also in high demand by first-time homebuyers who are finding them to be affordable, and an entry to home ownership before their families have grown to where they need a larger house.
Individual units in a building or development in which owners hold title to the interior space while common area such as parking lots, community rooms, and recreational area are owned by all the residents. All of the exterior maintenance is done by the condo association.
Townhouses (Fee Simple Properties):
Although most townhouses legally are considered condos, the differences are apparent. Townhouses usually have at least two stories, for example, with the bedrooms located upstairs. Moreover, buyers often own the land beneath their townhouse, while condo owners do not. In a Fee Simple townhome most of the exterior maintenance is the responsibility of the owner not the condo association. Most townhouses share party walls. Because noise is the primary complaint of townhouse residents, it is critical for prospective buyers to check the quality of soundproofing in these communities. Additionally, home-seekers will want to ask current residences about their likes and dislikes about the community; and also check the reserves and financial state of the homeowners association, as well as find out if there are any pending assessment hikes.
Partio Homes or Cluster Homes:
Patio homes or cluster homes are single family homes. These homes are built on small lots which causes then to be close together thus in clusters. The home and land is owned. There is usually an association fee that includes lawn and landscaping care.