Condos, Town Homes, HOA’s, Oh My!

townhomeWhen looking for a new home and desiring easy care and potential community amenities such as pool, larger grounds, meeting space etc (without the responsibility of upkeep), most people will consider either a condo or a town home. Most also aren’t necessarily familiar with several relative factors important to the selection process, so I thought I’d highlight just a few for you here.

First of all, there is a difference between a condo and a town home ~

Let’s start with condos: A condo (condominium) is a kind of home ownership wherein the purchaser owns the air space inside the unit and joint interest in the common areas, typically the grounds, parking lot, any structures and amenities such as swimming pool, meeting rooms etc. Condo owners belong to an HOA (homeowners association) and pay dues for common expenses such as insurance and maintenance of common areas.

Townhomes are what we call “attached” homes, considered not free-standing and usually containing two or more stories. A purchaser owns the structure and the land on which it sits, and like a condo, generally joint interest in the common areas . Often with town homes you will have a small backyard or patio area which is in excess of what many condos provide, so gardeners or pet owners often find this more attractive. As in condo ownership, the town home owner typically pays monthly dues for upkeep of common areas and other amenities. It is wise to check into the insurance setup of on HOA to find out if it is supplied and therefore included in the monthly dues, or whether the town home purchaser needs to secure their own hazard insurance on the property.

Generally speaking, condos and town homes are attractive for more reasons than just low maintenance and the amenities they afford. They usually are priced well below what one would pay for a similar detached single family residence… or “house”. One thing to give attention to however, is finding out how much the HOA dues are, and what they cover. Does the HOA offer parking? water & sewer? trash collection? cable TV? Take these things into consideration and ask yourself how positively you are offset financially (or not) by being free of these normal expenses of home ownership.

Another thing to take into consideration is the solvency and efficiency of the HOA. I have listed condos and town homes and experienced neighbors in surrounding HOA’s visiting on Open House days, exploring the option of getting out of their own nearby complexes! This is reportedly due to the perception of either oppressive or mis-managed HOA’s. I’ve heard stories of frequently raised dues, extreme restrictions, and just plain inattentiveness… while the HOA next door treats its members with appreciation and service. Bottom line- check out the HOA:

  • Call & obtain copies of at least the two most recent board meeting minutes,
  • Obtain financial statements,
  • Take a look at the Bylaws and Regulations,
  • Find out how much the HOA has in reserves so you have an idea of whether they are in need of maintenance funds,
  • Talk to a few neighbors and get a feel for their level of satisfaction ,
  • Find out whether you might or might not be able to rent your unit out in the future if you so choose,
  • Ask how many units are in the complex, and how many are allowed to be rental units,
  • Does the HOA allow gardening in the back patio area?
  • Are there any restrictions that will impact your lifestyle?
  • Determine if there are any lawsuits anticipated or pending,
  • Ask whether there are any big improvement projects planned which will require capital infusion (i.e. significant dues increases).

Condos and town homes are wonderful options for home ownership, and can be a great place to start as first time buyers, as well as a fantastic way to downsize once the kids are gone. Talk to your Realtor about what makes sense for you, and be sure to get all the facts!

Notable & Affordable Lake Oswego Properties

As many of you know, Dianne and I tour Lake Oswego every Tuesday. We use this scheduled time to view properties that are new on the market, and also to take a look at some we may have missed along the way. Our aim is to be inside every property we possibly can in our community in order to better serve our clients and readers.

Yesterday I meant to take you along with us as we toured, but forgot my camera (darn it!). I did, however, decide to pass along a few properties that we both believe are worth noting. So, here we go:

(All square footage and house info used is from listing agents’ data in RMLS so, deemed reliable, but not guaranteed by the Property Blotter.)

enter23190 Duncan Drive – This property is 2401 SF, 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, built in 1986, and is bank-owned. It is at the bottom end of a long, steep, private drive shared by a couple of properties, and sits on a hill/perched above Boones Ferry Rd., which you can hear when outside, but not really see too well through the beautiful, natural greenery surrounding the home. Practically speaking, you enter from the driveway side into the kitchen back_main-entry4area. Double attached garage, deck, large laundry room… generous living room w/fireplace opening to a dining room… flows nicely. Nice master on the main with walk-in closet and jetted tub. Large bath and bedrooms upstairs… You’d want to do some updating, especially in the kitchen and with flooring/new carpeting, but this just seems like a great opportunity in Lake Oswego for someone at $259,900!

front2a4411 Lakeview Blvd.– This home is a split level (sometimes I confess not to like them personally), but this one is a nice layout with a very open entry where you feel like you’re in the living room as you are entering/not in a little hallway as some tend to feel. It is 1828 SF, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, built in 1972 and remodeled. It has seasonal lake views, and is basically across the street from the kitchenwater. It is close to the intersection of Bryant and Lakeview, and so is close to schools, shops etc etc etc. It is just a really nice house with a great flow, and tasteful updates. Enter the back from a sitting room off the kitchen with beautiful picture window. The backyard is large & very relaxing.You’ll hear the train when it passes (I happen to LOVE the sound), but you’ll be in good company! …other homes on livingsmallerLakeview currently for sale range from $425,000 to $7,500,000. The listing agent states: “Sellers will entertain offers between $299,000 and $338,876.” This home is also listed as a “possible short sale w/one lender”. I am told that the Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) has already been finished, and the listing agent’s experience is that the Rep is very responsive. Seems like a great deal to me, especially at the bottom end of the range that is specified!

indianfront18791 Indian Creek Way – This property is 1965 SF, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, built in 1977 and remodeled. When we say remodeled, this one is really gorgeous. Dianne and I both looked at each other and said “This is nicely done.” The living room and fireplace are inviting, the feel is open and airy, there are stainless gas appliances, a wine fridge, 2 gas fireplaces, hardwoods, vinylpatiosmaller1 windows… lots of them, skylights, and a beautiful backyard patio surrounded by English Gardens (it was evidently featured in Sunset magazine) great for entertaining. The home is advertised as having Bryant Woods pool membership, and proximity to the grade school and middle school is excellent. The price on this one is $439,900. Compare what’s out there… this one is special.
parkforest-frnta1 1921 Park Forest Ct– This home is 2531 SF, 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, built in 1975 & remodeled. The owners have relocated, and I have to say that both Dianne and I were very impressed with this one. The owners took great care in special details, and this home includes high-end features like a gourmet kitchen with beautiful slab spatubaquartz countertops, a spa w/fireplace, walk-in stone & tile steam shower, air jet tub & heated floors. The plank wood floors are a favorite of mine. The windows in the living room are large and feature beautiful tree’d views, the baseboard detail is stonework throughout the home, and there is a hot tub outside which is windowsbincluded “as is”. This one is situated above SouthShore Rd in back. Greentree Pool and Lake Easement is advertised as available. The entry to this home is deceiving… Once you’re in the door you feel like you’re on vacation. There is a water feature to your left as you enter, and the beautiful quartz kitchen with spacious pantry to your right. Walk in and the fireplace and windows say “relax”. The owners wanted that “spa feel” throughout. The asking price is $529,000.

frontb17675 Cardinal Drive – This home on the Blue Heron Canal is 3458 SF, 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, built in 1966 and is advertised as a fixer. Dianne and I took a look at it yesterday, and were very impressed with the waterfront location. The living room is open and the window views are out onto the deck & water. The home needs p1010003-3extensive cosmetic fixing such as wallpaper removal, flooring updates, kitchen updates, etc. We are not inspectors, but truly, the feel is of a solid home that has been well lived in with just not much attention to updating. At $599,000 on the canal, I’d say this one deserves some attention.

Hope this information is useful to you. As always, feel free to email or call for more info or some help in locating or viewing these properties. There are lots of great buys out there!

Very Best,