Condos vs Townhouses - What's the difference?

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between condos vs townhouses. They share many similarities, and this seems to be the source of this confusion. Even amongst real estate professionals we often hear more opinions than facts. If you are considering buying a condo or a townhouse, it is important for you to understand the different real estate terms.

So, let's start by clarifying, condominiums or condos are a type of real estate ownership. Whereas, a townhouse is an actual style of building.

A condominium is best described as “the concept of ownership of a single unit of air space within a multi-unit dwelling, along with co- ownership of any common amenities (recreation centers, pools, etc...) and common areas of the structures and land among all unit owners.”

Townhouses are generally attached structures of 2 or more stories with common walls. These are a version of the old "Brownstones or "Row Houses" made popular on the east coast.

Let's Review the Similarities:

Townhouse ownership means you own the structure along with any associated land. So the owner of a townhouse can have absolute ownership, like a single family home.

Here's where things get a little confusing. It is not unusual to have “condominium ownership” of a townhouse. In other words, the structure is a "townhouse" while the ownership is "condominium".

Let's Compare the Differences:

Ownership and common areas are the primary differences between condos and townhouses. You can actually have absolute ownership of a townhouse as well as the land (yard) associated with it. In a Condominium you only own the "air-space" inside of your particular unit.

The owners of a condominium development each own an equal share of the "General Common Elements". This includes the structural elements of the building roof, walls, halls, clubhouse, pool, etc...

In a townhouse community, any common elements are deeded to the Home Owners Association (HOA). The townhouse owners are a part of the HOA but don't own an interest in these elements.

"Limited Common Elements" are where we see a departure between townhomes and condos. Limited Common Elements are only seen in condo ownership. These are things that are intended for the use on the individual unit owners. Parking spaces, garages, balconies and patios are examples of Limited Common Elements. Although these are owned by all of the unit owners, they are limited to the use of specific owner/s.

In a townhouse, the balcony and garage are actually owned by the townhouse owner. The exception to this would be if a "townhouse" style home is owned as a "condominium".

Summary:

Both condos and townhouses are what is known as "Common Interest Communities". A "Common Interest Community" is one where common real estate is maintained through assessments and dues.

Because of the Common Interest Community designation, we see a lot of confusion. The easiest way to remember the differences is this: A condominium is a form of real estate ownership and a townhouse is an architectural style.

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International Notary Guidelines

Notary Guidelines

I'm certainly not going to pretend to be an expert on all things regarding legal notary services around the globe. It only came to my attention a few years ago that it might not be as easy to process real estate paperwork everywhere as it is here! 

In the United States of America, many legal documents need to be notarized. For most of us, in our industry, that means every title closer you know can do this for you, and they perform all of our closings. Most title closers are a public notary and provide notary services. If you live in another state and are closing on a property here, sometimes that means walking into your local bank or just finding a local notary service in your area to certify your signature on your legal documents.

Notary Services Abroad

Well, such is not the case around the globe. I had a client moving from a civilian job with the USA working in Saudia Arabia. As they began the search, they of course came here to look at homes. With electronic software, the contract, inspection, amendments, etc. were fairly easy to execute halfway around the world. But when it came to closing time, we discovered they had to have docs sent to them, then notarized and returned. Easy-peasy, right? Nope! First of all, the title companies here require an American notary. So they had to find one... at the US Embassy... and pay $50/page to have it notarized. The title company was so helpful and kept to a minimum the actual documents that needed notary. It was complicated, but accomplished.

Second example, I took a recent continuing education class in which the instructor shared an example of a client that lived in Australia and was selling a property in Colorado. Well, in Australia, to get something notarized you have to go before a judge. Wow, that's complicated!! So the Colorado seller, living in Australia came to the US at some point during their transaction (not Colorado) to visit family. The title company sent documents to them while in the USA, so they could find a US notary and remove some complications! 

I have a client now, living in Prague, getting ready to sell their property here in Colorado Springs. I asked her to get started in the process of what it takes to notarize documents there, so we would be ready when the time comes. Their home here will of course sell in probably less than a week and close in under 2 months. If they are stateside at any time in the next 3 months, we'll certainly try to get any possible documents to them, especially if we are already under contract.

The internet and social media has shrunk the world in many ways. Legal services such as notarizing documents might be easy here, but much more complicated in other countries. Sometimes we need to be reminded how easy we have it... what a great country this is!!! 

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Steve's Picks for a Nice Weekend

Steve's Picks for a Nice Weekend

My family and I moved to Colorado Springs in the Fall of 2008 and we quickly fell in love with the lifestyle, the abundance of year-round outdoor activity, fresh air and lots of sunshine! Oh, and plenty of snow just to make things really exciting. This area has so much to offer no matter your season of life. But if you are like me, married with kids, you will soon appreciate the variety of life-giving recreation just minutes from your door! So, here are a few family favorites.

Hiking – You could literally spend a lifetime discovering new trails, rock formations and mountain peaks nestled among the amazing Rocky Mountains. One I highly recommend is Mount Herman. Located just west of Monument, CO this trail takes you up to an elevation of 9100 feet, and can be accessed from Mount Herman Rd. halfway up the mountain. It is given a skill level of moderate and is a 2.2 mile out and back trail. On a clear day you can easily see downtown Denver and downtown Colorado Springs. Pack a lunch and plan to relax for awhile to take it all in!

Zoos – One of the area’s treasures is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It is located Southwest of Downtown and is sitting on the side of Cheyenne Mountain. There are dozens of exhibits and animal species represented and you can even feed the peacocks as they roam around the grounds freely. Annual passes are available at an affordable price so that you can go as often as you like! A real favorite for kids of all ages.

Shopping – You can find 100’s of shops scattered around the area featuring local craftsmen and artists. I highly recommend taking a drive through Old Colorado City and into Manitou Springs. A tourist destination located to the west of Colorado Springs and just next door to Garden of the Gods, this area boasts many restaurants, boutiques, Bed & Breakfast Inns and an old-world Arcade! While in town you can take a ride to the Summit of Pike’s Peak on the Cog Railroad. Check the calendar for a vast array of events including farmer’s markets and street fairs.

Whatever you are into, The Springs area is hard to beat. Come for a visit…you may decide to stay for the rest of your life!

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Understanding Your Property Taxes

Understanding your Colorado Springs property taxes

Will property taxes go up in 2017? Better yet, just how are property taxes calculated? Here, in Colorado Springs, the El Paso County Assessor re-evaluates the value of homes every two years. He starts with the current market value of the home. Market Value is based on the most recent comparable sales in the area.

Once market value is determined, he multiplies the current market value by 7.96%, which is the current assessment rate for all residential properties.   MARKET VALUE times 7.96% = ASSESSED VALUE.

Once the assessed value is determined, he multiplies that by the current mill levy for the area. And that result is your annual property tax.

The mill levy for your area is dependent on many factors including but not limited to the school district, fire district, water district, library district, your county, and city. These various taxing entities comprise the total mill levy for an area. Taxing entities in one area may be higher than another. For example, the taxes for School District 20 are higher than those of School District 11. Although, the school district is not the only taxing entity in an area, the example gives you some information regarding the various mill levies for El Paso County

You can appeal the assessed value of your Colorado Springs home, thereby possibly lowering your property taxes. If you choose to do so, remember the El Paso County Assessor will only consider comparable sales for a specific period. That period must fall within the Assessor’s specific collection dates. For this task, I recommend calling your Realtor. As a part of our ongoing service and commitment to you, we can easily provide those comps to help you through the process, just give me a call.

 

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1st Time Home Buyer's Seminar

1st Time Home Buyer's Seminar

In this crazy, fast-paced real estate market in Colorado Springs, if you blink you might miss out on getting the #1 home on your list. You need to know what you are doing and you need a good team on your side giving you the right advice. On Saturday February 4th, you are invited to a 1st Time Home Buyer's Seminar that will give you some great advice on going through the process of purchasing your first home. Courtney Gilmore, our agent at Springs Homes, teams up with Kevin Stevenson of Integrity Bank & Trust to cover financing, offers, mortgage payments and lots more. The seminar is being held at Integrity Bank and Trust 13540 Meadowgrass in Northgate, Saturday February 4th from 10-11am and refreshments are provided.

 

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