Not sure you’re ready for homeownership?

Ease into the market with a town home or condo

What do the following people have in common; a young busy executive, a single mom wanting to reduce expenses and the level of housework in her life, and a man or woman of a certain age looking to downsize?

They’re all candidates for buying a town home or condominium according to realtor Pam Patterson of Provident Real Estate and Investments.

“There are many types of buyers that a condo or town house would suit well,” Patterson said.

Because the responsibility and expenses are usually much less than those associated with purchasing a home, condos and town homes are an especially good match for young first-time buyers. In Sacramento, prices vary from $150,000 to $750,000 and almost every area offers new or older styles to fit any taste.

Town homes may sometimes have a small yard, but often have fewer amenities. A condo owner will have use of common areas and more amenities.

The amenities that go along with these properties often are considerable. Owners have use of a variety of these “extras” including a swimming pool, club house, tennis court or a fitness area. Exterior maintenance, repairs and landscaping are usually taken care of by the property’s association.

“You have shared ownership and use of amenities that you may not otherwise be able to afford,” Patterson said. “And homeownership is one of the best tax benefits available.”

What disadvantages should potential buyers be aware of? According to Patterson there will be association fees to pay, there can be less privacy than with a freestanding home, and often there are limits on what modifications homeowners may make to the exterior of the home. If your kitty or your boa constrictor must make the move with you, you need to know if pets are allowed.

“A buyer of a condominium or town home should ask what the association fees cover,” Patterson explained. If the property is located in a flood zone the fee may appear to be high, but might include flood insurance. Higher fees may also be associated with an attachd home with many amenities.

As of this writing, the resale market on condos was up according to Patterson. Closed condominium escrows for the month were up 48.1%. Condominium market activity was essentially identical to that of a year ago. The median sale price of a Sacramento condominium was up 0.9% in February at $219,950. The median condominium price a year ago was $244,000.