Carriage Homes

Condo or Carriage House? What are the difference and benefits to each?

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Condo or Carriage House?  What are the differences? Which one is best for you and your family?  

As a developer of homes and condominiums across Chittenden County for nearly 30 years, Dousevicz Real Estate has had it's fair share of building and selling some of the areas most recognized projects.  Today we'll explore some of the critical differences (and benefits) of a carriage home vs a condominium.  

A condominium is defined as: 

an apartment house, office building, or other multiple-unit complex,the units of which are individually owned, each owner receiving arecordable deed to the individual unit purchased, including the right to sell, mortgage, etc., that unit and sharing in joint ownership of anycommon grounds, passageways, etc.

A carriage home, on the other hand, really doesn't have a set defintion in Vermont, but instead can be viewed as a single family house which holds ownership of the footprint of the land for which it sits, but shares in the land around the home commonly with the other neighbors in the project.  You may find this type of project referred to as a "PUD", but that is more a term that is used within the municipality for which the neighborhood resides and the term "carriage home" is more of a marketing term adopted in Vermont.  

Now, the biggest difference between carraige homes and condominiums is shared walls.  Condominiums share walls with their neighbors, and carriage homes do not.  Obviously, if you are sensitive to noise or if you like a bit more privacy, a carriage home is the better option for you.  

What often is similar between condominiums and carriage homes that we see selling in Vermont (mostly in such towns as Williston, Essex, and South Burlington) is that the maintenance of the grounds (snow/ plowing) and trash service is covered within your association dues.  What does differ, however, is some carriage homes include exterior maintenance in their association dues (otherwise known as HOA Fees) whereas carriage homes usually do not include exterior mainteanance, although we have seen select areas where exterior maintenance is included in the HOA fees for carriage homes.  

Another difference bewteen carriage homes and conodominiums in Vermont is insurance coverage.  Most condominiums bylaws state that insurance of the conodminium building, along with the interior of the individual condominiums, are covered within the master HOA insurance policy.  Typically, carriage homes do not cover the entire building of the detached carriage house and will only over insurance on the shared, common land, and individual home owners will need to purchase a separate traditional homeowners policy. 

If you have questions about buying a carriage house or condominium, please contact Brad Dousevicz at Dousevicz Real Estate today!

Condominium Association Dues - What Should I Expect?

If you are searching for a new home or condominium in the greater Burlington Area, you have probably seen many of which have association fees. If you have rented in the past or have owned a home with it's own land, this may be a new concept for you. This post will dive into some of the details of Association Fees, so that you are more prepared when looking at a home or condo that may have them.

  • Single Family Homes May have Association Fees!

    A particularly popular concept in today's real estate market is one of "Carriage Homes." Simply put, these are typically singlefamily homes that are part of an association- similar to that of a condo. You may have exclusive rights to use the land immediately around your home, but the land is technically the associations. Along with this land being "common", comes the need for the association to maintain the lawns, and even remove snow from the driveways. Having limited maintenance is a huge benefit for some homeowners, but buyers should be aware there is an associated cost for such a neighborhood.
    Vermont condo associations

    An example of a "carriage home" in Essex

  • Condominium fees in "high rise" structures are typically based on square footage of each individual unit.

    From a management perspective, this is typically the easiest (and fairest) way to set each units fee. In Downtown Burlington's popular College and Battery complex, the fees can range from $250 for a 1 Bedroom Unit- $800+ for a 3 bedroom penthouse. In such a project, Gas heat for each unit is typically included along with general cleaning and maintenance of the building, along with water and sewer fees.
    Burlington Condo Real Estate

    An example of a "carriage home" in Essex

  • Parking is not always included!

    This is typically something you will need to examine asyou look at more "urban" located projects in downtown Burlington such as; "College and Battery", "The Westlake", "Hinds Lofts" and "The Stratos". Parking (and private storage)at the Westlake, for example, is included with the association fees for each unit owner. Having an attached parking garage makes this possible, but it should be noted that not all condominium projects in downtown Burlington have such a luxury. You may need to pay for off-site parking, which is obviously important to plan and budget for.
  • Who typically manages the association?

    Associations can either be privately managed amongst the homeowners, or contracted out to a private property manager. In my experience, this really comes down to the time that the individual homeowners have to manage their neighborhood. Sending out billing, managing maintenance of the grounds, and making sure you have the best pricing for contracted out services can take a great deal of time. On the other hand, associations that contract out their management will have cost associated with such a decision.
  • Always ask about reserves, and what they cover.

    Home-buyers typically ask how much their monthly dues are, but they often fail to ask how much reserves an association may have on hand. If you are looking at a condominium in a 20 year old complex, the reserves should be healthy enough to cover some major exterior improvements including a new roof, for example. If the condo complex does not have adequate reserves for basic improvements, you may be hit with a large assessment in the future!
In summary, not every association is created equal! Always ask the details of what is included, and never assume anything. When I have represented sellers, I have always found it beneficial to personally contact the property managers or association board members on behalf of my clients. It is something that can go a long way and prepare a future home-buyer for any unexpected expenses.