Life is short…buy the detached condo
No mower. No edger. No pool equipment. Not even a rake.
Perhaps the best illustration of how our last move differed from previous ones was what we did not take with us.
Spending hours fishing leaves and tiny frogs from the pool of our SummerBrooke home were taking their toll. So was raking, fertilizing and endless weeding of flower beds and caring for a half-acre lawn.
From inside the home, large picture windows framed a pastoral setting: a pool deck dotted with perennials, mature trees, shrubs and roses. However, after 21 years – kids grown and at college — I told myself, “Life is short. Too short to spend playing maintenance man to a yard kids were no longer playing in, and a pool no one was swimming in.”
Something had to change.
Caring for a pretty home like this was no longer the obsession it once was. Then, out of the blue, my wife texted a Zillow listing of a single family detached condo close to town. We found the concept intriguing.
Not because the home was smaller – it wasn’t. And not because there was no landscaping to care for. The landscaping was even more appealing than what we had.
What was hard to ignore was that with one move we could gain more time, be closer to town, and simplify our lives. Sign me up.
What is a Single Family Detached Condo?
A single family detached condo is closer to a house than a condo in appearance and lifestyle. There are no common walls. You essentially have your own yard including trees, sprinkler system, driveway and garage. You are responsible for all exterior siding maintenance and your own roof if it leaks or needs repair. So in many ways it is just like owning a house.
If you purchase a home and have fractional ownership of the entire development, pay HOA fees to maintain the common areas and “roads” (parking lot shaped like a road), then in fact you have not purchased a house as we traditionally define one. You have purchased a condo.
Some single family detached condo communities – like the Naumann Group’s Windsor Trace and Braemore Park – feature models with lots of amenities as well as in-law suites and carriage houses with their own entrances. These make great spaces for, well, in-laws or short term rentals.
The homes are generally more energy efficient. We would have no more high heating/cooling bills that come with a 20-year old home.
Like SummerBrooke, the neighbors are awesome. And, because of the close proximity, it’s easy for folks to look out for one another. A community fire pit and dog walk area completed the picture and add a nice community feel.
Minutes away was a Trader Joe’s and Lucky Goat. It just kept getting better.
What About Downside?
We are often asked, “What are the downsides?” Well, there are not many.
The HOA fees were higher, of course. However, this is only a downside until you realize most subdivisions have these fees anyway. Ours fees cover mowing and all landscaping, tree care and bedding. The HOA maintains the driveway and other services including holiday decorating. We were paying for lawn service anyway so it’s not a bad deal.
The other downside might happen upon resale since these homes may not be listed on MLS as a house and may, instead, be listed as a condo. That could mean less exposure though we had no trouble finding the one we bought. Once the use of detached condos are more widely adopted, which will almost certainly happen over time, this perceived limitation should lessen.
Even so, after looking at traditional homes closer to town, we decided the detached condo community, the floorplan and price was the best solution for us.
What About Financing?
According to Laura Jo Hewitt (NMLS #775253), Prime Meridian Bank Mortgage Lending Manager, though no survey is required, “financing a single family detached condo does not differ from other traditional, conventional financing.”
Knowing the additional disclosures and other required documents, though, is important.
“Our underwriters definitely have it down. Lenders have to comply with Fannie Mae guidelines regarding these types of homes,” she says. “Our underwriters understand them (condos), and, most importantly, we can get them closed on time.”
There are also condo docs to read. Be sure you do as they are very thorough and address lots of questions you may have. Sellers should make these available to you upon request.
For Us, It Kept Getting Better
Oh, and now for the best part. The unit we liked was designed with an apartment ideal for short-term rentals. These make a lot of financial sense if you are so inclined. They also make great places for visiting guests.
Consider your situation, and perhaps a detached condo home is right for you.
About Prime Meridian Bank
Headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, Prime Meridian Bank offers a broad range of business and personal banking services. Founded in 2008, the Bank serves its primary market of the Tallahassee Metropolitan Statistical Area, but also serves clients in the North Florida and South Georgia markets. The Bank currently has three office locations, two in Tallahassee, and a third in Crawfordville, Florida. For more information about Prime Meridian Bank, please visit www.primemeridianbank.com. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS# 393620.