Buying a Condominium or Townhouse is a Little Different than Buying a House…Most of the Time!

If you are purchasing a condominum or townhouse in Silicon Valley, you will need to consider a few things more than if you were buying a house that’s not held in condo ownership*.

Like what?

Most of all, with a condo or townhome (or planned unit development) you are buying a fraction of the entire complex as well as your own living space (condo or townhome). Condominium ownership includes a percentage of the community’s property. You will benefit from it, but you also will be responsible for it.

Additionally, there are a lot of  documents to read and understand when purchasing a condominium or town house. You will need to be able to accept the rules, bylaws, financial statements, meeting minutes, articles of incorporation and more.  You will want to read the newsletter (and minutes) carefully to see if there are any “issues” in the complex.  Plan to invest several hours in reading and digesting the information in the 2-3″ stack of papers.

Naturally another difference is that your neighbors will be in very close proximity.  If you are a non-smoker but the neighbor in the unit next door smokes, you may not be too happy about it later.  A few months ago I showed a Rivermark (Santa Clara) townhouse that was just darling but the next door neighbor came out and smoked on the front porch while we were there.  My buyers didn’t want to purchase the home for that reason – they did not want to deal with the smell later. You may have similar concerns about other odors or noises.

Perhaps most important are the financial issues and risks: