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Condos vs. Attached Housing…What’s the Difference?

Condos vs. Attached Housing…What’s the Difference?

By Kathy Schmidt

One of the things that’s really fun about being a REALTOR® is solving riddles and puzzles!  A frequent one is the puzzle of finding the right house for a family with multiple (and what may seem to be conflicting) needs.  Or the puzzle of finding just the right wording to attract the best buyer to our sellers’ homes.  Often, we have the fun of de-mystifying things in the real estate market for our clients and giving them new insight and understanding.  One area that causes a lot of confusion is condos. There’s so much to know before you buy one, from condo fees and what they include, to the long-term impacts of the latest reserve fund study.  Helping buyers make sense of all of that is so important, and really satisfying! One common place of confusion for many people is attached housing.  What do I mean by “attached”?  Technically, apartment style condos are attached, but what I’m referring to here are properties like duplexes and townhomes.  The tricky part is, you can’t actually know what you’re looking at when you see one of these properties!

You might be looking at any one of these!

  • “Single Family” house
  • “Condo” house
  • “Single Family” duplex
  • “Condo” duplex
  • “Single Family” row house
  • “Condo” townhouse

First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a condo and a “single family” property.  Condominium refers to a form of shared ownership.  For instance, did you know that what looks like a single family stand-alone house could actually be a condo?  There are condo complexes in the Edmonton area that are made up of single family homes. They’re called bare-land condos. In that case, the “condo” is actually the lot!  There’s a complex like this just off Ellerslie Road by Calgary Trail called Ravines of Richford, if you’re curious!

Next, there’s the duplex-style of property.  If you see one duplex-style property on a street, chances are it’s actually two single-title properties. However, in the past I’ve sold a condo in a 2-unit property just like that.  So there’s no way to know just by looking at it if you’ve got a condo in front of you, or a traditional duplex where each side is owned completely separately!

Another type of property that’s often a surprise to people is the attached home.  The brick townhomes near the baseball field in Edmonton’s river valley are a good example of those.  They look like condos, but they are actually all individual attached homes!  There is no condo association and no condo fees.

When working with clients looking to purchase a duplex/townhouse we spend time digging into the market to make sure we’re looking at all the options.  An MLS search has to be set up for each type of property to make sure that you don’t miss an opportunity!  It’s just one of the ways your agent should be looking out for you as you navigate the real estate maze.

Is there a real estate puzzle you’d like help solving?  Reach out to us anytime! We love a challenge!

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