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The best way to think of a townhome building as a deck of cards standing on end and each card is a townhome. The unit is anchored to the ground and rise vertically for two, three or even four stories. No other dwelling units exist above or below the unit, but there could be a neighbor to the left and / or right. If there are only two cards in the deck, it would be considered a duplex; three is called a triplex; four a fourplex, and so on. The only exception to this layout is if they were horizontal townhomes, where the card deck was actually sitting face down and the units were stacked, one on top of the other (comprised of one living level). However, this practice is seldom used in Steamboat Springs.
Town Home Ownership Defined The space (wall) that separates one card from the other is called a “party wall.” This wall is known as a “limited common element” (LCE), as it is shared in common with a limited number of units, but not the entire project (which would then be termed a “general common element” (GCE)). At a minimum, the ownership of a townhome is further defined from the midway point of the party wall and includes the exterior (or perhaps interior) walls and down to the ground. Depending upon the development, individual ownership may also extend beyond the structure walls to the land to the front, back and perhaps sides. This can be confirmed by a review of the townhome subdivision’s plat map.
The HOA If individual land ownership does not exist, the land is considered a GCE and owned by the homeowners association (HOA). Ownership of the roof will also depend upon the townhome’s HOA structure, and is considered a LCE, GCE or owned individually. This will also dictate whether upkeep or replacement costs are shared with other owners or if each owner is individually responsible. Buyers should pay careful attention to this (and heed your exclusive buyer broker’s opinions) – especially when considering a stand-alone duplex where one owner’s desire on upkeep and maintenance may not be in sync with another potential owner.
Steamboat Springs townhomes can either be part of a multi-unit development with several townhome buildings, offering common amenities such as pools, hot tubs and shuttle services, to stand-alone duplex and triplex buildings with no common amenities. Ownership or access to these amenities and services will come with a cost of HOA dues, and will include snow and trash removal, common amenities and management services. Insurance coverage will vary with each project, and your Buyer’s Resource exclusive buyer broker will be happy to research what is offered with each property, along with other important characteristics.
Precautions Owning a stand-alone townhome that is not a part of an HOA is not immune to many of the ownership costs that come with a townhome attached to an HOA. With the exception of the cost of the amenities, most other costs of ownership exist no matter what the townhome property.
Benefits Town homes fill the niche between single family homes and condominiums. They can provide more privacy and space than a condo, and because of shared land, utility and building costs, are less expensive than a home. Steamboat Springs townhomes first entered the market with less than one thousand square feet of livable space.
However, since the availability of land to build new single family homes is dwindling every year, larger townhomes are continuing to enter the market, which rival the size of many single family homes, where five and even six thousand square foot residences are now considered common. Private elevators, media and wine rooms, three car garages and gourmet kitchens can now be found in this type of property. Because of this evolution, Steamboat Springs town homes can be used as a primary, second, retirement or rental home.
In my first 17 years in real estate I have helped design, position, build and market several town home developments. As discussed above, there are nuances with every one. I would be happy to provide to you, as your exclusive Steamboat Springs buyer’s broker, my 30+ years of experience to pursue this type of property.