Say the term “move-up buyer” and an image of a young couple moving from their first home to the next probably springs to mind. Presumably, this new house is bigger than the first; maybe one parent has a baby on their hip and they’re thinking about a place where they can raise a family.
But while young families certainly make up a significant portion of this group, a move-up buyer is really anyone who’s looking to upgrade—and upgrades mean different things to different people.
Technically anyone looking for a higher quality home is a move-up buyer. Sound like you? In many cases, the features you’re seeking can easily be found in a condo or townhome, making them a better investment than a move “up” to a single-family home. Here’s a peek at why you may want to consider these less traditional move-up options.
Depending on the condo or townhome community, the list of amenities can constitute a significant upgrade to your lifestyle. Options like pools, fitness centers, and 24-hour security are perks that many move-up buyers crave but can’t yet afford in a single-family home, so making a move to a condo or townhome community becomes a better investment. “As a young single woman, knowing I had 24-hour security and neighbors on either side was a huge part of the reason I chose to buy a townhome,” says entrepreneur Amy Lloyd, whose first home was a townhouse about a mile from Redondo Beach, CA.
Great Design Features
A new condo or townhome can provide a well-designed layout and a slew of modern features for move-up buyers. From open floor plans to eat-in kitchens, walk-in closets to larger entertainment spaces, newer construction condos and townhomes offer many benefits.
Newly built condos and townhomes also tend to be smarter and more energy-efficient, reducing utility bills and offering extras such as built-in speaker systems, digital thermostats, alarm systems, and high-speed internet cable. “To be able to afford all of these features in a single-family home, a move-up buyer would generally need a higher budget,” says Nicole Rader, a real estate agent with Mainframe Realty in Orlando, FL.
This one is true if a condo or townhome is situated in a community with a homeowner’s association, or HOA, that requires monthly fees for the upkeep of shared spaces. For a move-up buyer, this can be a better solution than jumping into a single-family home. Think about it: even if it’s in the same price range, the condition of the home may require a significant additional investment just to get it up to the standard of a typical condo or townhome community.
As an added bonus, condo and townhome HOAs often even cover insurance and larger maintenance repairs, such as those from storm damage.
Moving “Up” In Space
If you’re looking to move up to increase the space of your home, you’re not alone; this tends to be one of the biggest motivators for more-up buyers. Sure, single-family homes are the traditional go-to choice, but some three-bedroom condos can easily fill that need—as can some townhomes.
Townhomes in particular tend to be larger, usually with two or even three floors and garage space included. Compared to condo living, townhome buyers also enjoy more privacy in the form of outdoor spaces, whether it’s a slightly larger and more formal front entrance, a patio, a side yard, or even multiple balconies on different floors.
As mentioned before, many condos and townhomes have HOAs that take are of shared spaces, provide shared services, and even take care of larger, more structural issues in exchange for monthly fees. More space for minimal maintenance on your part? Sounds like a win-win.
Downsizing to Move Up
It may sound counterintuitive, but to a lot of homebuyers, downsizing to a smaller but perhaps better equipped home is a move up. “Once I turned 50 and my kids were out of the house, moving to a downtown condo where I could walk everywhere and reduce my monthly maintenance needs was a huge plus,” says Telenia Piedra, who moved from a suburban home in Miami, FL, to a downtown condo and never looked back.
Moving into a condo or townhome that’s smaller than your current home but offers more perks constitutes an upgrade in lifestyle. This is especially true if you’re coming into a new phase of life like Piedra and you’re looking for less maintenance and responsibility, not more. You may also no longer need that third bedroom or home office, so why continue to pay for it?
For a move “up” to be successful, you first need to define what a move “up” actually means to you. Whether it’s a more effective use of space, access to more amenities, or more up-to-date features, a single-family home is no longer the only option. In many cases, a condo or townhome may be the better bet, offering a larger return on your lifestyle, your wallet, or both.
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.