Boston condos are going green.

For those wishing to do without a personal vehicle, buying a downtown condo may be the best way to do it. When you own a downtown Boston condo you’re close to shops, restaurants and work. Boston’s T system — including the bus — will get you anywhere you need to go in the downtown area. And many downtown Boston condo highrises are are close to the public transportation sysytem

Condo vs. Townhouse:

The bif difference between these two is ownership, not structure. You might hear that condos are always apartment-like dwellings, while townhouses are the row-style attached homes that you see in neighborhoods across Beacon Hill and Back Bay. While this is true in general, the word “condo” is often used to describe what is actually a ownership in a row-house. The true difference lies in the way the properties are owned. With a condo, you’re buying just the interior of the unit. With a townhouse or row house, you’re getting the whole unit (including the roof and exterior.

Prices of condos and Townhouses.

Generally, condos are less expensive than townhouses. This is partly because they tend to be smaller. But buyer beware — that cheap condo could come with some heavty price condo fees. That’s because the condo association takes care of the exterior of the building, the grounds and all the common areas. Because condos usually have more of a community outlook, there may be a communal exercise room, club house, or similar amenity, all paid for out of condo fees, hence. why some condo fess can run into hundreds if not thousands of dollars per month.

Check the budget reserves & assessments

Okay, you found the perfect condo (or townhouse) in the right downtown Boston neighborhood, with fees that are affordable. You’ve verified the fees and determined that you can move ahead with the purchase.Hold on. What capital improvement projct? what’s an assement?  An “assessment” — when the condo assesments looks over the entire property and determines what major upgrades need to take place. Assessment costs may come up all at once, or be factored into an increase in the regular fees. Either way, it could turn an affordable unit into an unaffordable one. Before you buy, find out what assessments the HOA has planned and whether they have set aside funds (known as “reserves”) to pay for maintenance and upgrades. 

Baby Boomers impact on the Boston Real Estate market

According to Zillow, Baby Boomers are retiring and moving out of their single-family homes, causing a “Silver Tsunami” to wash over the real estate market in the coming years. Their localized data shows  senior homeowners in the suburbs will be selling their home in the next few years. What’s more, research by the Insured Retirement Institute shows that, in the US a a whole, 45% of Baby Boomers lack retirement savings — meaning they’ll need to sell their home if they don’t want to live off Social Security alone. For many seniors, this will mean downsizing into a Beacon Hill condo. As a result, condo buyers in downtown Boston should expect more competition over the next couple of decades 

Winter is the best time to buy a downtown Boston.

In general, spring is when most Boston condo buyers hit the market, and sellers have the advantage. Those looking for a good deal  on a Midtown condo would be wise move quickly  before  buyers come out in the  Spring.

Bottom Line

Buying a downtown condo or townhouse in Boston is different than buying a detached single-family home. Condo transactions must take into account the added rules and restrictions of the homeowners or condo association — in fact, buyers and their agents should research the condo association just like they would inspect the home itself! Is your real estate agent up for the task? Are you connected to the home inspectors, lenders and other industry professionals who also understand the particularities of condos? 

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