In your search for a new home, you may have seen the term “site condo” in listings. So what exactly is a site condo?
Unlike regular condos, which are typically apartments or townhomes attached to at least a few other units, a site condo looks like a freestanding single-family house; it even has its own yard. Nonetheless, a site condo is located in a condo community with all the benefits (and restrictions) of condo living, explains Realtor® and blogger Norm Werner.
Here’s how to tell if a site condo is right for you.
Characteristics of a site condo
There are five criteria that must be met in order for the units in the complex to be considered site condos, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:
- Units must be single-family and completely detached from each other. This includes garages, archways, breezeways/porches/decks, or any other attached buildings.
- No part of the house, land, or airspace can be considered a common area.
- Insurance and maintenance costs of the individual unit and property fall solely on the unit owner.
- Any condo fees collected are for amenities that are outside the bounds of the property.
- Owners must abide by all condo association rules, known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs.
Benefits of site condos
Typically, inhabitants in condos own (and take care of) only their home—not the land on which it’s built. Site condo owners, on the other hand, own both the house and the land. That’s right, they get to experience the joys (and hassles!) of mowing their lawn, planting flowers, and basically keeping their yard in nice shape. While owning land takes work, many people enjoy the privacy and autonomy this patch of property affords them.
Yet while site condo owners may have more home maintenance on their plate than regular condo owners, they aren’t entirely on their own. If a snowstorm blocks the communal road into the community, the condo board takes care of clearing it (although you’ll have to plow your own driveway). Or if your community has a pool, you won’t have to break your back opening it on Memorial Day.
All in all, site condos are a great compromise if you want more responsibilities than that of a condo owner but fewer than that of a homeowner.
How much do site condos cost?
Because the property includes rights to the land underneath the house, a site condo is typically more expensive than a regular condo, but it’s still less expensive than a single-family home. The same is true with the fees: You’ll have some condo fees to cover shared amenities, but those fees typically won’t be as high as if you lived in a regular condo, where fees start at $200 to $300 per month and take care of everything outside your front door.
Restrictions with site condos
In addition to those fees, some people balk at condo association rules, which might impose restrictions on things like what color you can paint your home or where you can park your RV. So if you happen upon a site condo during your home search, be sure to read and understand all of the CC&Rs before you sign on the dotted line.
Watch: Buying a Condo? Here’s What You Need to Know
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