Many buyers are VERY adamant when they tell their real estate professional, “I only want to look at Townhouses, NOT Condos”. But, they may not realize that there are “Townhouse-Condos”. These homes have a townhouse structure with condominium ownership. That is surprising to many buyers, and the next question they ask is, “What is the advantage of that?”
It is really a lifestyle choice. When you buy a townhouse, with “Fee Simple” ownership, you are responsible for the exterior maintenance of the property, i.e., the roof, the siding, the deck, the landscaping, etc. You might be handy, or like to haggle with contractors, and have no problem spending your own time and money on the exterior upkeep. That would be the case for this beautiful townhouse my team recently sold in Fair Woods.
Or, you might have a very busy lifestyle and be willing to pay an ongoing monthly fee for someone else to worry about it. It’s pay me now or pay me later, but you WILL be paying for exterior maintenance, whether all in one lump sum (SURPRISE), or monthly at a predictable, budgeted amount.
Besides the exterior maintenance, what else does the condo fee cover? It depends on the community. Here is an example of included items, from a Fairfax Townhome community with condominium ownership – East Market II near Fair Lakes: Exterior Building Maintenance, Lawn Maintenance, Management, Master Insurance Policy, Reserve Funds, Road Maintenance, Snow Removal, Tot Lot. This tells us where your $244.35 monthly condo payment is going. Considering most townhouse developments in Fairfax have a Home Owners Association (HOA) fee anyway, costing roughly $100/month, the extra $144.35 could be considered an “exterior maintenance fee”.
Are there many townhouse condos for sale in Fairfax? In the postal codes of 22030 and 22032 which are Fairfax addresses, there are currently 12 townhouse condos on the market, in 7 different developments. They range in price from $300,000 to $419,900, with condo fees ranging from $236 to $431/month. All of them include a one car garage, except one. Ten of the homes have three bedrooms, the other two have two bedrooms. They are all on major bus routes, easily accessible to Route 66 and Fairfax County Parkway. They are convenient to grocery shopping, restaurants and malls.
WAIT, one just popped on the market for $610,000! It’s huge, it has 3 level bump-outs and a 2 car garage. No wonder it’s higher than the others… but, the condo fee is $305, right around the average.
So, whether you decide to look at “townhouses – fee simple”, or “townhouses – condo,” really depends on your lifestyle. If you have the time and money to work around the house, or hire contractors to do exterior upkeep, then Fee Simple may be the way to go. If you are very busy and would rather come and go, without worrying about exterior maintenance, then Condo might be best.