Time to Buy: Single Family or Attached?

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Oct 01, 2016

Whether downsizing, upgrading or becoming a first-time home-owner, choosing between a condo or a townhouse and a single-family home can be a tough decision. Consider location, lifestyle and cost to help make the right choice.

For those who like an urban location, such as downtown or Little Italy, there are far more condominium options available. Condos in the heart of the city have a vibrant feel and are within walking distance to shops and restaurants. Single-family homes usually have quieter neighborhoods but require more commuting.

If your location is flexible, consider your lifestyle priorities. If you like privacy and control of your property, a detached home is the best option. With multifamily housing, you really get to know your neighbors, which can be a good or a bad thing. If you are annoyed by noise, living in close proximity to others can be a challenge. But if you like social interaction on a casual daily basis, condo life can provide a sense of community. Just picking up the mail or taking out the trash can offer a chance to catch up with neighbors.

Detached houses provide much more privacy, especially when it comes to outdoor spaces. But having a front- and backyard- even your own roof-also requires maintenance.

“For buyers looking for a low-maintenance, lock-and-leave living experience, attached homes may be the way to go,” said Brad Termini, Zephyr Partners co-CEO. “The landscaping and exterior maintenance is often organized by the homeowners association within these communities, and in some-like our development SummerHouse Carlsbad-an onsite concierge service is available to assist with day-to-day activities, like walking the dog, picking up dry cleaning and more.”

This, of course, comes with a price. Monthly homeowners association fees can cost hundreds of dollars a month, depending on the amenities, and fees can increase. These fees should be factored into the cost of a home.

“High-end amenities that provide an all-inclusive lifestyle are another perk offered at attached communities,” Termini said. “Our luxury midrise development, The Park, will include an exclusive private pool with relaxing spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, clubroom and terrace with fire pits—perfect for hosting family and friends.”

With detached homes, maintenance costs are up to the homeowners and their willingness to take on DIY projects. For many, gardening is a welcomed hobby and not a chore. However, many new-home developments also come with HOA fees for common areas such as parks and community pools.

But no matter how long the wish list of space and amenities, the bottom line is the cost. Attached homes are typically less expensive than their detached counterparts—even with the homeowners association fees factored in. Also, check the resale value if you’re not planning on buying your forever home. Sometimes condos are more difficult to sell, especially if several units are available in the same complex.


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