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THE LIFESTYLE

These properties offer a different lifestyle from a stand-alone home. They cater to specific desires. There are no lawns to mow. Okay, there may be lawns, but individual owners don't do the mowing. Or water the flowers. Or sweep the driveway. Get the picture? There's simply less maintenance.

Does the roof leak? If you owned a home you'd be calling a roofing repair company and shelling out a few thousand bucks for a new roof. But if the roof leaks at one of these other property types, the cost will be divided up among the individual owners or paid via a condominium or townhouse association's insurance policy.

If you're in an urban setting, you may not own a car because you live close to where you work. You can walk to work or take mass transit or a taxi. Retail shops abound. Grocery stores and coffee shops offer pretty much anything you could want. If there is a 900-unit condo springing up downtown, you can bet there are plenty of retailers waiting to set up shop and provide their services nearby. Such convenience makes these properties attractive to certain buyers.

Condos, co-ops, and townhouses appeal to some buyers and turn other buyers off. Some folks simply may not like the lifestyle. I'm not interested in such properties because I like my lawn and my trees. I enjoy mowing and taking care of our landscape. If s all about personal preferences. A single-family home has no intrinsic advantages over a condo, co-op, or townhouse. If s the same with automobiles: Different kinds of cars appeal to different kinds of people.

And, as with automobiles, different models come with different price tags. One potential advantage of these types of properties over single-family homes is price. In fact, these units typically sell for less than their stand-alone counterparts. You can find lots of one- or two-bedroom condos at entry-level prices. There is no standard “savings per square foot compared to a house” formula that you can apply everywhere, but many condos have an entry-level appeal that single-family structures do not. How can they do that?

When a builder builds a condo project, he has a predetermined amount of square footage he can work with — and he wants to make as much money as he can. So far, so good. Now, based on the market, he may decide to include more one- bedroom units and fewer three-bedroom units. The square footage is the same; the builder just moves some walls around to create some new condos.

Now, you won't find too many one-bedroom homes. Few people would consider buying one. But you will find one- bedroom condominiums. After living in one for a few years, the owner may want to move into a house or a larger condo. If so, she'll sell her unit for a profit and move up to a bigger place.

Lower prices also mean greater affordability; it doesn't take as much monthly income to qualify for a loan if the selling price is lower than comparable houses in the area.

Another neat feature: These types of properties offer many amenities that may be cost-prohibitive for a single house. Want a swimming pool? Your townhouse has one. But with a house, you must put in your own.

Workout gym? Many projects have health clubs onsite, saving you money on gym memberships and keeping you healthy (if you actually work out, of course). It's there if you want it.

Many properties have security gates and security guards — surveillance cameras and such. Once inside your unit, you should feel safe.

Different amenities, access to work and play, and pride of ownership all come with owning a condo, co-op, or townhouse.

So everything is good, and there is no downside — right? Again, it depends on your point of view. You will suddenly have lots of neighbors. If they are loud, it could be a problem. Someone could be having a party right below your unit; you weren't invited and the music is loud. Boom! Boom! Boom!

Yes, management can calm them down and you can file a complaint, but it's an annoyance.

You'll belong to an HOA. Some HOAs are better than others. The not-so-good ones are often made up of neighbors acting like the Noise Police, filing complaints over the tiniest little thing. You left your shoes out on the sidewalk last night and you're not supposed to. Do that again, and you'll face a fine!

 
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