Are you considering buying a Condo? Understanding the pro’s and con’s of condo living can save you a lot of heartache! About 50% of home sales in Arlington are condominiums. Condo ownership offers you certain advantages over owning a single family home, but the differences should be understood so you can make the best choice for you.
When you buy a single family home, you are buying the land and the buildings upon it, and you normally own it “fee simple,” which is the most complete form of ownership. Single Family homes provide the maximum privacy of ownership, and simultaneously more responsibility for upkeep and maintenance. Condominium ownership gives you exclusive right to the interior space of your unit, and you are a co-owner of the rest of the property, land, building, fences, driveways, etc.
Single family home owners are usually free to renovate or landscape at will, whereas condo owners would need the approval and cooperation of other unit owners, especially if joint funds are to be used for improvements. The two-family home style condos in Arlington are mostly managed by the owners of the units, and arrangements can be informal. In the larger condo complexes a professional management company handles most of the affairs of finances, repairs, and landscaping, etc. As a Trustee, you would be able to vote, but there is less absolute power of decision than either a two-family condo or a single family. In return for less responsibility for the upkeep of the property, individual unit owners have less say over decisions made and actions taken. At certain points in your life this may be a great choice.
Two-Family Style Condos in ARLINGTON
The majority of condos in Arlington are in Two-Family style homes, the largest density of which are located in East Arlington. A typical layout of a unit may have five rooms, two bedrooms and one bath. The early 1900’s was a boom for building most of these homes, and they still have the special charm of that era. Gleaming woodwork, built-in cabinets, crown molding, hardwood floors, and in some cases glass doorknobs (my favorite). Variations on the theme include fireplaces, sunrooms, and front or rear decks. Over time many of these have been updated to have amenities like granite and stainless steel kitchens, gorgeous modern baths, overhead lighting, better insulation, replacement windows, gas fireplaces, central air conditioning, and walk-ups to a finished 3rd floor. I always wonder what those original builders would think if they came back today and saw what we’ve done with their work!
When Two-Family homes are turned into condos, one property turns into two. Legal documents are created establishing the Condo Trust, the Rules and Regulations, Master Deed, Unit Deeds, and detailed floorplans including common and private areas. These documents must be recorded at the Registry of Deeds when the properties get sold.
If you buy a condo, you should review the Master Deed, Unit Deed, Rules & Regulations, Budget, and if possible, minutes of recent meetings. Normally your attorney reviews these during the inspection period, while you are also learning about the house itself. You also want to know if any future assessments are planned for improvements, which will be levied on unit owners. Your Buyers Agent will help get answers to these questions.
Townhomes in Arlington
Another popular style of home is the Townhouse, or side-by-side condo. The layout provides a unit to have multiple levels of living area, from basement to second or third floor. Some recent builds (since the late 1990’s) have become some of Arlington’s most popular housing options. These could have 2500′ or more of finished living area, built to modern code standards, while maintaining yesterday’s charm. These townhouses range from the mid $400,000’s to the mid 5’s.
There are about 20 larger condo complexes in Arlington, which are managed professionally. Condo-living in a building or larger complex has the appeal of requiring less physical involvement in the upkeep, and are potentially more private (less involvement with your direct neighbor) than living in a Multi-Family style condo. A larger building condo may also have under-cover parking and elevators. These are advantages, and you do pay for them. Condo Fees are usually higher in building-style condominiums, and can range from $300 a month to as high as $800! Check the listing sheet!
As a rule of thumb, the interior living space of a “renovated condo” is higher than that of a single family home when compared dollar-for-dollar. Taking exmples straight from recent MLS sales in Arlington, here are photos of kitchens from properties that sold for around $300,000. See if you can guess which one belongs to the single family home, and which one belongs to the condo:
SINGLE FAMILY HOMES in Arlington
Depending on your stage in life maybe you are physically and financially ready to tackle landscaping, repairs, shoveling, and maintenance. Perhaps you need the room for a growing family. Many people forego the fancy condo updates in favor of the privacy of owning their own house. Over time you can make improvements that will add to your enjoyment and the value of the home. With some soul-searching and thorough property touring, I believe you will come to your own conclusion of which is right for you, a Single Family, or a Condo. There’s no right or wrong answer to this one, just where you think you’d like to call HOME.
Condos make a great alternative to renting, and are ideal for First Time Home Buyers. Once you outgrow your space there will be someone thrilled to buy your condo when you move up to your Single Family Home!
What other advantages or disadvantages do you expect from owning a condo? If you would like help exploring this topic, feel free to contact me for some help. I specialize in helping first time home buyers, who often find condos in Arlington the perfect choice.