Not All Condos are Create Equal – Understanding How Condos are Classified for Purchase – Boston Condo Loan Update

Condos can sell fast, because of the many advantages they offer over individual houses. If you are planning on starting the search for a condo, it’s helpful to be aware that not all condos are the standard apartment type. There are actually multiple condo arrangements available in the Greater Boston area. Understanding how condos are classified for sale in Boston can be useful in surveying the full range of options.

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A Condo or a Condominium is simply any type of real estate where you have complete ownership of the inside of your house (the fine details of the ownership vary from condo to condo), but the ownership of common areas and facilities is shared with the other residents of the condominium complex. While there is more than one classification system used in the Greater Boston area, the following is one easy classification system commonly used and based on the number of walls shared with neighbors.

Classification of Condos in Boston

  • Free Standing Condos: These condos will allow you to have the benefits of staying in a condo along with increased ownership of the common areas and increased privacy (in short you will gain the best of both worlds). This level of autonomy is available because you will not share any wall or structure with other condo owners. While privacy and the power to change your surroundings will be greater, the cost and time spent by you on the house will also be greater, because insurance and maintenance costs will also not be shared.
  • Duplex Condos: Similar to “Free Standing Condos”, here also the insurance and maintenance of the front yard will not be shared among owners. But they differ from free-standing condos, because at least one wall will be shared with other structures (most commonly the wall of the garage). They offer great value for the money, since they will cost less than individual houses in expensive residential areas. So you may be able to afford a condo in Back Bay, Boston even if you cannot afford to buy an individual house in the same area.
  • Townhouse Condos: These condos share one to two walls with other houses – in other words, on both sides of the house a wall will be shared. Because of this, the cost of shared facilities also increases. Here what you spend on maintenance and insurance will be shared, and the amount of work for you will be lower. Row or garden types of buildings are perfect examples for this type.
  • Stacked Condos: Also known as High Rise Condos, this type of condo is most commonly found in the heart of the residential area of Boston. They are preferred by builders because a large number of apartments can be built simultaneously. Residents prefer them because these large condominiums usually contain a host of facilities such as a swimming pool and fitness centers. In this type, usually three or more walls will be shared depending on the location of your apartment. While the main advantage of this type of real estate is a lower asking price, disadvantages include lower privacy and lack of control to make changes to the surroundings.

Again, while this is not the only classification system in use, being aware of the range of condo types may be helpful in either narrowing or expanding your search for a home. After all, these choices make it possible for you to get closer to either a free-standing home or an apartment and still own a property in Boston or surrounding areas.

Lender Tip: even if the condo is non-warrantable, some lenders, like us, still offer loans. Don’t turn away from a Boston condo mortgage for that reason alone.

Phil Ganz (354 Posts)

Philip D. Ganz is a Boston Mortgage Broker and Boston Home Loan specialist. For information, expertise, consulting, or advice about home loans, refinancing mortgages, or commercial property loans, contact Phil with no obligation: 617-529-9317


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