Twinhome with no association fees?

Filed in Minnesota Townhome Blog by on June 21, 2007 0 Comments

Twinhomes and townhomes offer us a convenient, carefree lifestyle at a pricetag that is usually less than purchase price of a single family home. We can enjoy the tax and equity benefits of homeownership without the hassle of painting the exterior, mowing the lawn, or removing snow. After all, price and convenience is what makes the Minneapolis townhome market tick.

But what if we make the argument that it might be possible to hire someone to do the work for less than what we would pay for association fees? Or perhaps we could even do that outside work ourselves to save even more money? A twinhome advertised as having no association fees can start to look attractive.

A twin home that has no association involved is typcially a side-by-side arrangement with a property line running right down the middle of the building and lot. The guy next door mows his side of the yard while you more yours. Sounds simple right?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends. What if the home needs a roof replacement or coat of paint? Will your neighbor agree to that? What if he thinks the property needs new siding, and you don’t? Then what?

Before you purchase a twinhome with no association, check to see of there is a “party wall agreement” that spells out a maintenance schedule, or how emergency repairs are handled. Most lenders will want to see a “party wall agreement” before they finance the purchase. If they don’t, or if you are buying cash, be certain you get to see a copy of the agreement before you buy. You may even want to have an attorney review it before you purchase. Keep in mind that even if you have such an agreement, it may be difficult to enforce, there may be unforseen problems with the condition of the property, and there may be differences in opinion about what repairs need to be made. Even the best agreement may not offer much for practical remedy if the neighbor just doen’t have the money.

The first twinhome like this that I listed was in Chaska, and was only a couple of years old. The next door neighbor for some kooky reason decided that the home needed a new roof. He re-roofed his side of the property. My seller didn’t see the need at all; the result was a building with a new, non-matching roof on the north half, and the original roof on the south half. Pretty hard to explain to potential buyers! I was unable to sell the home, and the listing expired. The real victim in all of this, of course, was the seller.

Twinhomes and party-wall agreements can come in all shapes and sizes, so after careful study, there might be one that would work for you. But proceed with caution!

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