Real Talk: Home sweet condo

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Real Talk: Home sweet condo
Photo/BTW Images There are monthly fees associated with condiminiums, but they are often cheaper than the cost of maintaining a single-family home.
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By Kerry Adams

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but if the thought of raking leaves and stringing outdoor lights leaves you feeling less than jolly, you might want to consider making a condominium your next home. Here are a few compelling reasons to buy a condo right now.

Increased inventory

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many homeowners have been exiting cities and denser neighborhoods in search of more open space. In the D.C. area, demand for condos dropped, resulting in increased supply.

As of Oct. 28, in the City of Alexandria, there are 240 available condos listed in MLS compared to 103 single family homes including townhouses. In Arlington, there are 320 condos and 157 single family homes. In D.C., there are 1,174 condos and 737 single family homes. Condos are also sitting on the market longer than single family homes. More inventory and more time on the market typically means more bargaining power for buyers.

Low maintenance

With most condominiums, individual owners are only responsible for what’s inside their unit walls. In exchange for a monthly fee, the condo association owns and maintains everything on the outside, such as the roof, exterior grounds and common areas. This frees up time for other pursuits.

One of the biggest complaints about condos is that the monthly fees can be high, but in many cases if you add up the expenses of maintaining a single-family home – landscaping, gutter cleaning, pest contracts, snow removal and utilities – you might find the monthly cost is higher than a typical condo fee. Maybe it’s time to sell your lawn mower and snow blower and take back your weekends.

Amenities

Some condominium developments feel more like resorts with luxuries such as swimming pools, tennis courts, rooftop terraces, playgrounds, shops and restaurants. Others might have one or two of these features. Typically, the more amenity-rich a community, the higher the fees, but it might be worth paying extra to live in a building with a pool and fitness center if it means you can drop your expensive gym membership.

Security

Many home buyers who are concerned about security choose condominiums over single-family homes. Whether a high rise or a sprawling condo development, most communities offer some form of added security, including dedicated security personnel, monitored systems or both.

In buildings with underground parking, owners are typically given a key card or fob to enter the garage, and then there’s added security upon entering the building. Some buildings have units with personal elevators that can only be accessed by the owner of the unit. Motion-activated lighting is also a common feature in condominiums.

Perhaps the best security feature found in condos is good, old-fashioned neighborliness. The close-kinit nature of condominiums means residents tend to look out for each other and report activity that might seem out of the ordinary.

Sound investment

Whether you plan to sell the condo after you have lived in it or hold onto it as a rental, condos can be an excellent investment. When starting your search, consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent who can pull the history of sales and rentals in a community to give you historical perspective. You will also want to review the condominium documents to learn how the property is managed, what the finances look like, whether there are any upcoming assessments and whether there are any restrictions that might affect you such as limits on pet sizes or whether smoking is permitted.

The bottom line

Whether you’re downsizing from a large house or just starting on your homeownership journey, you might feel right at home in a condo. Who knows, you may even find that having less space to put up all those out-of-town guests actually makes the holidays just a little merrier.

The writer is a realtor with the Blumel Adams Group at Compass and a longtime Alexandria resident.

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