Condominiums and townhouses in Maplewood and South Orange, NJ appeal to many buyers as an alternative to traditional single family home ownership. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of options in this segment of the market with the great majority of homes in our area being single family. In the last year over 500 single family houses have been sold in the two towns and only 61 condo units closed in the same year.
A condominium is a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses. They are commonly referred to as condos. A similar type of housing option is a townhouse which is usually an individually owned two or three-story unit with common walls bordering the adjacent unit. It is always on a small lot. Condos generally have higher Homeowner Association (HOA) fees and are smaller, while townhouses have lower HOA fees and are built with more square footage.
Condo or townhouse living
Condos can be constructed anywhere – from low-rise buildings, townhouses, single family houses, duplexes, triplexes or “mixed use” buildings with housing above office/store fronts. They can be new, a resale or converted from another use, such as a factory or a church. Townhouses generally have a smaller footprint and are built up rather than out. This allows for more square footage. And depending on the location of the unit, some townhouses have larger pieces of property than others. For example, an end unit usually has a larger plot of land than a unit in the middle because it is on the corner.
A Homeowners Association manages the condo and townhouse complex through an elected board of directors. Monthly fees are assessed to provide for the repair and maintenance of the common spaces. (Keep in mind with a single family home you have additional expenses for exterior maintenance, landscaping, snow removal etc.) These fees can vary depending on the age of the complex and the amenities in the complex. Older complexes, for example, generally have higher monthly fees because they require more maintenance.
Within a condo complex, the owners of the individual units share ownership of the land, building and common areas and collectively own the hallways, walkways, laundry facilities, HVAC system, elevators, etc. Each owner shares maintenance costs with fellow members of the condo association, and the board of directors or a property management company makes the big decisions such as when to get new windows or a new roof. Within a townhouse complex, owners of a unit also own the small plot of land the unit is on. But, the outdoor spaces are maintained by the HOA.
Here are some of the pros of owning a condo or townhouse:
- Someone else maintains the outside. Part of your monthly fees go towards maintaining the outside common areas. If you don’t particularly care for shoveling, raking, mowing or outdoor repair work, maybe condo or townhouse living is for you.
- Great amenities like a pool, gym, and theater room are often found in condo complexes.
- Major costs are shared. Part of your monthly fees go towards repair and maintenance of the structure as well as the amenities. The cost of a new HVAC system or new windows, for example, is shared by all homeowners.
- It is your space so you are free to renovate, paint, etc.
- Owning a condo or a townhouse can be more affordable than owning a traditional house.
- Condos and townhouses are often located in urban areas with easy access to work, public transportation, restaurants and other desirable amenities.
And some of the cons:
- You will have monthly fees for as long as you own your unit. Unlike a mortgage which you can pay off over time, HOA fees will continue until you sell the unit. High fees can affect the desirability of your unit.
- Condos and townhouses may not appreciate as much over time as a traditional house. And major renovations may not necessarily increase the value of the home.
- There can be unexpected expenses. For example, if a condo board determines that repair work needs to be done but there aren’t enough funds available to cover the cost of the work, a special assessment is done and condo owners are billed.
- Owners must follow the many rules and bylaws.
- The homeowner has little control over what happens on the outside of the unit. Plant your spring and summer flowers, but all major landscaping project are done through the HOA.
Some local condo or townhouse options in Maplewood and South Orange
There are many options for condo or townhouse living in Maplewood and South Orange, and here are a few for your consideration.
- The Top Condominiums in Maplewood is an exclusive luxury high rise with many amenities and some views of the NYC skyline. There is a 24-hour doorman, valet parking, an indoor pool, gym, community room and nearby Jitney service to downtown Maplewood and Midtown Direct train service.
- The Maplewood Village Condos are located on Boyden Ave. across from the Maplewood Community Pool. This is the most affordable condo complex in town.
- The condos at 14 Highland Place offer a prime in town location within easy walking distance of the train to NYC.
- The Maplewood Plaza Condominiums are newly renovated and located midway between Maplewood and South Orange. They offer a professionally designed fitness center, a large outdoor pool, and a bike room, as well as laundry facilities and extra large storage units on each floor.
- The Newstead is a luxury high-rise condo complex with concierge service, valet parking and an outdoor pool and tennis court. The Jitney stops at the complex for a quick ride to downtown or train service to NYC.
- Village Green condo/townhouses offer an outdoor pool, a garage and a quick walk into downtown South Orange.
- Village Mews are condo/townhouses in South Orange that offer an attached garage, gym, community room, and a quick walk to the village and the train.
As with any other housing purchase, you must be informed when buying a condo or townhouse. Talk to a real estate agent and lawyer who have experience in such purchases and sales. Compare fees, and learn the rules, bylaws and regulations associated with a property. Find out about work that has already been done and work that needs to be done in the future. And, if possible, become involved with the board of directors. It’s a good way to always know what’s going on. Also, remember that not all condo developments are approved for FHA financing so if you are an FHA buyer your options may be limited when buying a condo. If you have any questions about buying or selling a condo in Maplewood or S. Orange, NJ please feel free to reach out to me.
The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing real estate group based at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct in Maplewood, NJ. Allison Ziefert, a local market expert, specializes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills and West Orange, NJ real estate and homes, and the surrounding towns. Allison’s success as a Maplewood/South Orange realtor is driven by earning great testimonials from sellers and buyers of homes in her marketplace. You can read her testimonials at www.azhomesnj.com/testimonials.