What makes a home a condo?

What makes a home a condo? l Austin condos for saleWhat makes a home a condo? I represent buyers and sellers all over Central Texas. When I’m not looking for specific buyers, I’m touring new communities. I have seen various types of condominium regimes and neighborhoods comprised of fee simple single-family houses. Think you can tell a fee simple house from a condo? Think again. The perception is that you can tell a single-family house or duplex from a condo just by looking at it. Truth be told, there is nothing about the style of a house that dictates its classification.

House or Condo?

How a house is classified as a condominium used to be determined by whether the land the residence sits on is fee-simple or undivided. If the parcel is undivided, then the structure is in a condominium regime which gives owners partial interest in the land, and common areas.

If the parcels on a given street are divided, with individually platted lots, and meet required set-back requirements of the city, with no ownership interest in any part of the subdivision – it is not a condominium and truly gets the single-family designation.   A residence can be fee-simple where the owner holds absolute title to the land and structure, but still, be in a condominium regime if it does not meet said set-back requirements. 

Housing density has changed how new homes and communities are built, which plays a role in the dwelling classification.

Here is an example of how creativity affects housing classification.  When a builder wants to fit a certain amount of homes on a specific street, the dwellings may need to be designated a condominium regime just to get around setback requirements. As a single-family (SF-1) residential house in an area with low-level density in ‘the burbs’ like Shady Hollow, the dwelling may need to be a certain distance from the street and neighboring home, but as a legal condo (SF-4B) – it does not.  That house may have a survey and be fee-simple and still be in a condo regime.

What makes a home a condo?

Condominium regimes can come in a variety of architectural styles like garden homes, row houses, single-family, duplexes, and multi-level designs. Many have backyards, which can make it impossible to tell how a property is classified just by looking. Single-family residential properties are available in the same styles, with the exception of tower buildings. Some people don’t want to live in a condominium regime because they feel too restricted in how they can utilize their backyards. Understand, single-family residential homeowners still need to abide by city, deed, and zoning restrictions, and can also be restricted through their homeowners’ associations.

Condominium regime home owner associations (HOAs) will often let homeowners improve their property with patios and other outdoor improvements as long as they get permission first and comply with certain aesthetic guidelines.  Make no mistake, single-family residential properties can do that too which is very common in master-planned communities.

Keep in mind not all homeowner associations are condominium regimes, but all condominium regimes have homeowner associations.  Even a duplex condominium has an HOA even if it consists of two people.  A common area is shared and needs to be insured and managed in some way.

Buyers don’t often know the legal distinction until it’s time to fill out a contract.  Are they signing a 1 – 4 Family Residential Contract? Or a Condominium Contact?  Until I ask the question or look at the tax records – I don’t always know.  The state code A4 is for single-family condominiums.

Austin Condos for Sale

As the population of Austin grows, the land is getting more and more scarce. Developers are getting more creative with condominium regimes which allow for a denser population of housing, along with a greater variety of home ownership options for buyers.  Density guidelines in Austin are in the process of changing too.

Explore my Austin zip code 78704 condos page which will give you access to Austin condos for sale as well as show you a good mix of different architecture.  The Mueller community page also tends to have a good mix of Austin condos for sale and offers another example of building unique housing in less space.