Condo or Single Family Home? 3Ls to Guide Your DecisionJanuary's Home Value ImproverAbout Us

Condo or Single Family Home? 3Ls to Guide Your Decision

1. Lifestyle

Sharing Walls.
Does sharing walls with your neighbors give you a cozy feeling or does it make you cringe? Of course, not all condo walls are created equal. Some are extra thick and no sound comes through at all. Others are paper thin, and you can hear your neighbor's every move. I had one client whose baby would cry loudly in the middle of the night. Her neighbor on the other side of the wall would play Dire Straits to drown out the baby crying. While they were very friendly to each other, it was not where you wanted to be at 3 a.m. Of course, if neither crying babies nor Dire Straits music is in your future, you may find sharing walls just fine. Then again, some people find a single family home spooky and isolating - especially if they are living alone.

Sharing Lifestyles.
It's not just what you hear your neighbors doing, but what you see. If you're someone who gets caught up with who is visiting your neighbors, why they stay up too late, or whether someone is cheating on his/her spouse, condo living may not be for you. If, however, you are comfortable with a "live and let live" philosophy, then the convenience of condo living might outweigh any judgments about or from neighbors. Of course, you'll likely see your neighbors if you own a single family home, too, but you'll have a little more distance.

Shared Work and Money.
Don't forget that it's not only walls you'll be sharing, but money and business decisions. Condo governing boards have been known to be contentious. Who wants to skimp on roofing material but go all out on landscaping? These are the kind of discussions condo owners have. However, if the idea of mowing your own lawn or cleaning your own gutters is just horrid, it might be worth your while to buy a condo.

2. Likelihood of Resale.

No discussion of real estate would be complete without the ever-important resale question. The health of condo resales can be a tricky issue. Some areas - especially those where the cost to get into a single family home is particularly high - are great for condo sales. Other areas in which getting into a single family home is relatively inexpensive, condo resales can be stagnant. Get some information on condo (new and resale) in your community before taking a plunge.

While new construction appeals to many of us, remember than when it comes to condos, condo associations that sue their developers for anything put their members in a tough situation. Lenders often don't want to loan money to buyers who want to get into a development in which there is a lawsuit pending.

3. Levied Fees and Taxes.

The No. 1 reason I hear clients choose condos is because they don't want to deal with the work of owning a home. While this is certainly a valid point, it's important to remember that this work you are being spared is not being done for free. Let's say you have a $500 per month condo fee and that covers building and grounds maintenance, and snow removal. Sounds great, eh? Actually, for $500 a month in a single family, you could probably have a landscaper, someone to perform your snow removal, and a savings for routine maintenance of a home.

January's Home Value Improver

How to Choose New Furniture

When your finances do not allow you to break down walls and build the solarium of your dreams, you can still make some fantastic aesthetic changes for a fraction of the price of construction. New furniture can change the entire look and feel of a room, so approach this project with care. Some new furniture cost a small fraction of what a remodeling project will cost, so it's a satisfying way of getting a new room

One of my clients, Selena, spent much of her time this weekend at a furniture warehouse. As she sat in her kitchen waiting for her table delivery, she shared with me some tips for other homeowners on taking this plunge.

  1. Peruse the Internet first.
    Like just about every other project under the sun these days, the Internet should be your first stop. This is a great way to figure out which furniture stores are in your price range, and which ones are likely to have furniture you like.

  2. Find the best salesperson.
    Choosing furniture styles and fabrics, maintenance plans, and sizing can be overwhelming to those of us not hooked on HGTV. The right salesperson can make all the difference. Look for someone who respects your choices, but is also willing to offer his or her opinions. After all, many of them are trained in color selection so they know what they are talking about!

  3. Keep an open mind.
    Styles and trends change. While Selena and her husband were resistant to buy what they called a "giant ottoman," it turns out that storage ottomans are an excellent alternative to coffee tables. The storage ottoman not only has great storage potential for blankets, pillows and whatever you want to toss aside when company is coming, it offers seating and foot resting. A run-of-the-mill wooden tray can instantly convert it into coffee table practicality.

  4. Watch out for trends.
    Selena learned that pub tables are the biggest kitchen trend right now. Pub tables are the height of a bar with bar stool height tables. These are an especially good choice for kitchens that have a bar area with seating. Because the pub table chairs are the same height as bar stools, they are interchangeable between the table and bar.

Westchester Mortgage

January 2012

You've finally decided that you've had enough of rent checks and landlords. You've heard countless people tell you it's a good time to buy, and you are finally ready to make a move. Now comes the big question: What to buy? Single family home? Condo in a large building? Condo in a small two- or three-family house?

This month, I'm offering some guidance to help you make the best decision for you and your unique circumstances. If this is the year you're going to buy a home, take the time and thought to do it right.

I love helping homebuyers with any questions they may have during the process of choosing a home, financing it and moving in. Feel free to email or call anytime!

Best regards,
Debbie Siegel
Westchester Mortgage

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