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March 27, 2008

The Highs and Lows of Low Rise Condominium Living

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:36 pm

Living in a low rise or loft styled condominium can have its ups and downs. Here in Center City Philadelphia, we consider a low rise condominium to be an association that generally has anywhere from two to eight units, within a three to four story building. Defined as such due to the physical nature of how such properties simply exist in our area. Generally such structures are converted townhouses or small warehouse buildings, these low rise condominium associations have gained a lot of popularity since their inception in the mid 1980’s.

On the plus side, we find one of the attractions to be low condo fees. Since many of these buildings lack services that a high rise luxury condo building might hold, we can expect condo fees to reflect such a lack of service. No elevators, no door men, no concierge, no parking garage, etc. translates into a reduced common fee, which makes sense. Additionally, the small tight knit condo association, formed from anywhere (again) from two to eight member- each owner of course being a member. Less formal rules such as more liberal pet policies can be a major plus for those looking for condominium living. Also, the ability to play a central role in the budgetary process, and the management of the condominium building can be seen as a plus as well. Owners feel they have more say in to how their building is operated, how money is spent for improvements, and can informally change and add rules as they see fit.

On the possible down side, is a small association in and of itself. Some members may not want to be responsible for the operations of their buildings. They may want an outside management company to pay the bills and make decisions on capital improvements. These owners may not care for the fact that there are such few voting members, should they be “at war” with say another member of the association. A four unit condo association might have a tendency to be kind of an US verses THEM scenario. Additionally, the lack of services may be a drawback  to some potential buyers. Possibly a buyer may want the intimacy of a small condo association, but would prefer a little higher condo fee to say, have exterior windows washed on a regular basis, and have trash removed by an outside company twice a week.

Buying a low rise condominium suits many tastes. But certainly such a scenario is not for everyone. An open mind, and good communication between all members of such an association is important for its well being. I live in a four unit low rise building on Front Street in Old City Philly, with limited services, and I think the situation is just perfect. We all get along well, with the general notion that our decisions are based upon what is best for the association, and the long term upkeep of the building.

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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530 Walnut Street, Suite 480
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