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Condos or Townhomes on James Island, SC; Which to Choose?

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By : Mike Ciucci    99 or more times read
James Island is a popular spot for many when making a condominium or townhouse purchase. With so many communities to choose from, it can be difficult making a decision on which might be the best fit for you. With James Island, it’s all about location. With close proximity to downtown Charleston, and being right down the street from Folly Beach, it is a favorite location for many. A lot of the CofC students (College of Charleston) and the MUSC students (Medical University of South Carolina) like the location of James Island, since the commute is normally 10 minutes or less. So lets take a look at a few of the differences between condominiums and townhouses, and try to determine what might be the best fit for you.

First of all, whether you’re choosing a townhouse or a condo depends on your lifestyle. If you are looking for the “resort lifestyle” so to speak, then condos might be the best fit for you. The reason I say this is because swimming pools, cabanas, tennis courts, gated communities, and lawn care included are all typical benefits of living in a condo.

If you’re the type of person that has a long day at school or work, and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on maintenance or landscaping, then a condo may be a great choice for you. Be sure to know that when living in a condominium, you actually own a percentage of the whole condominium community. If there are 100 condos, and you own one, you own 1% of the community.

There are covenants and restrictions set in place (rules or guidelines), that you must obey and are enforced. Typically, there are regime fees paid by the condo owners (you) that can amount to $350+ a month! These are the fees that pay for the use of the cabana, the pool, tennis courts, landscaping and maintenance, and any entry gate. Also included is hazard insurance for the exterior of the condo (normally from the drywall, out), exterior maintenance such as pressure washing, roof repair, siding repair, as well as the sidewalks and walkways around your condo. Some condo communities also have water usage included. So condominiums will be more expensive to live in per month, on a whole, but this may be beneficial for you if you like all of those extras listed above.

Townhouses or townhomes are a little different. While sometimes similar in size and appearance to condos, townhouses do not have regime fees. You actually own the townhouse outright, and you are not a part of any regime. Typically, there aren’t any swimming pools, tennis courts, cabanas, or lawn service. This means you take care of your own exterior hazard insurance, your own water, and if the roof needs repair- that is your responsibility. You maintain the area around your townhouse, which means all of the landscaping on your property, and any gardening you wish to do.

There are no covenants and restrictions so normally you are also able to park your boat on the property, or do any modifications/changes to your townhouse without having to submit a written request asking permission to do so. A lot of people like this freedom, and feel they shouldn’t have to ask for permission to make changes to something they own (like paining). However; the condominium people feel that this may affect the property values negatively if there are changes made that are not in the best interest of the community.

Take note that if there is no regime with covenants and restrictions, any homeowner may be a little more careless about having cars parked in yards, or stained driveways, or boats parked on the grass on cinder blocks (you get my point). There is no property management company to enforce the rules of the community as in a condo regime. The biggest positive I see the townhouse having vs. the condo is there are no regime fee’s to pay per month. If a similar condo of the same size has a $350 a month regime fee, then you may be able to afford a more attractive townhome since you will not be paying any regime fee’s per month. Also note that when there is a down real estate market or economy- the townhomes usually sell better than condos. For example: One townhome selling at 100K, and one condo selling at 100K with a monthly $250 regime fee. That $250 a month regime fee is tough to chew on for someone qualifying for a 100K place to live.

So there you have it, a minor breakdown of the differences between condos and townhomes. Like I mentioned, the choice is yours depending on your lifestyle. Be sure to take note of location obviously when choosing, but also find out if a condominium community is in litigation. On James Island alone, there are a few communities that are under litigation (a lawsuit), where the owners have sued for a specific reason. Normally, the lawsuit is for defective workmanship of the condo buildings, or something similar.

VERY IMPORTANT: Which means if you are a seller…drum roll please…you have to sell your condo as cash only. A buyer will not be able to purchase a condo when it is under litigation, because the banks will not fund a loan when in this situation. So be careful when choosing!

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