Patio Home? Town Home? Condo? Retirement living?

You have finally made a decision to downsize, now what?  Do you want a patio home or town home, and what is the difference?  Or maybe you are thinking retirement complex.  To assist you in making the decision this article will define the some of the terms used by real estate agents.   Knowing the terms may help you define the direction you want to move and the kind of home you desire.

A patio home is typically a separate single family one level home built in a homeowners association.  In the southwest area, though this term also includes duplex style one level living.  The homeowners association generally cares for outside maintenance, including lawn care, snow removal, and exterior maintenance.  Each homeowners association is different so make sure you read the associations bylaws, as well as covenant s and restrictions.  In Montana, the term townhome and condo are generally interchangeable. A townhome usually consists of multiple floors, although ones with more than three floors (including the basement) are uncommon.  Also, a townhome typically means you own the dirt under you, while the condo, you own the space around you.  The complex usually consists of many units with a shared wall.  The complex can also be duplex or semi-detached homes.  In all of these cases the dwellings are managed by a homeowners association and dues are paid monthly for the association to manage the exterior maintenance and landscaping as well as in Montana, snow removal.    The homeowner usually owns from the sheetrock in, and is responsible for such.  The homeowners association fees generally cover the exterior insurance, maintenance, and many times the water bill.  The difference in cost may influence your decision as well.  Patio homes in the Billings market typically start with a price range of the mid $250,000, while townhomes can be purchased new in the mid $150,000.   When using a bank loan, typically townhomes and patio homes are easier to finance

After finding the unit you are happy with, you will be given a copy of the homeowner’s association bylaws as well as the covenants and restrictions.  By Montana law, the purchaser has 3 days to approve.  Be sure to read through these, as the restrictions usually address pets, noise, costs, guests, parking, and any number of items that are particular to that association.   Plumbing, electrical, interior maintenance, these items are the responsibility of the homeowner.

Don’t want any maintenance?  Ready to let someone else manage the details of fixing the toilet?  Many Montana communities offer retirement living complexes where 100% of the occupants are at least 62 years of age.  The complex may have a restaurant, beauty shop, swimming pool, café, or even a small theater.  As well, this living arrangement offers much more social and peer activities.  An assisted living complex offers much of the same, but usually with a main dining room.  The complex offers some care, where the staff members may assist in some daily living activities or DLA.

Only you can make the decision of your next move.  It is important to take time to attend open houses and visit the complexes you are interested in.  Some of your considerations are the level of activity you wish to maintain and responsibilities you are willing to handle.  Some folks wish to travel every other month, others wish to join a bridge club. Determining your lifestyle choices for retirement will go a long way in helping you make your decision on your next move.

Next month:  Age Restricted Communities, what are they and how does HOPA-Housing for Older Persons Act influence these communities.  This is a portion of the Federal Fair Housing Act and was passed in 1988, 1995 and is concerned with Familial Status Discrimination.

Trina White is a realtor with Real Estate by Hamwey, and has earned her SRES designation from the National Association of Realtors.


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