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Is condo living in Delaware for you?

What is the difference between condo living and one of the new planned communities with a homeowners association? Until I became a Realtor, I always thought that a condo was an apartment-style home. Well I learned differently. Condo refers to the method of ownership, not the style of home. Not all condos share common walls.

For example, I currently have three distinctly different types of properties listed myself that are condominiums.

One of them is an elegant fully furnished second floor 2 bedroom, 2 bath flat with a one-car garage in the community of Paynter's Mill, listed for $200,000. This community also offers single family homes and townhomes that are not part of the condo ownership, but a group of single family homes that are part of their own condo association. All belong to the same community or homeowners association and membership in the community center with a Fitness Center, entertaining space and a wonderful outdoor pool is shared by all.

Another new listing of ours is a two story single family home with a full basement in the gated community of Nassau Grove. With 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths, this home is listed for $350,000. This entire community of single family homes are all part of a condominium association. In this case, the clubhouse, pool and other amenities are covered by the one condo fee.

Finally, we have a wonderful waterfront 2 bedroom, 2 bath one-level condo in a small gated community of only 37 units, all waterfront, all with a boat dock in Millsboro, Delaware, in the community of Hunters Point. There is no community center or common amenities other than the waterfront location and bulkhead docks. This unique condo is available for $350,000. Compared to other coastal areas, there are very few waterfront condominiums in Coastal Delaware.

All condo association fees cover exterior building maintenance and typically cover siding, sidewalks, decks, lawn care, snow removal and common area maintenance as well as access to any amenities like a pool, clubhouse and more. The master insurance policy may be included in the condo fee or billed separately, but the only insurance you need to carry separately is to cover your contents, sometimes called renter's insurance.

A homeowners association will never cover your physical structure maintenance but may cover many of the same amenities and lawn care, snow removal and common area maintenance - it all depends. Today more than ever, you need to review the relevant condo or HOA documents before you make a purchase decision. In Delaware, disclosure requirements are the same for condo associations and planned communities with a homeowners association that charges a fee of more than $500/year. When you write an offer, make sure you receive the disclosure documents (DUCOIA) and review them thoroughly.

Is condo living for you? If you are looking for true "lock and leave" living, a condo is the perfect choice. If it's a second home or you like to travel, the no maintenance style of living in a condo home or flat makes the most sense. And, the fees may be comparable to those in many homeowners association.