Many adults who move to an active retirement community are attracted by the desire to have a maintenance free lifestyle. Nowadays, builders are focusing heavily on designing homes that are easy to maintain and require minimal upkeep.
Before purchasing in an active adult community you should give careful consideration to the level of care and maintenance your new home will require. Be wary of builders offering “no maintenance” homes or “maintenance free” homes as sometimes that is not actually the case.
There is a distinct difference between low maintenance versus no maintenance homes. When builders refer to the maintenance aspect of their community they are generally referring to the exterior of the homes, lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal. As a general rule, townhomes fall into the maintenance free category and single family homes fall into the low maintenance category. Here is a comparison:
The community association maintains your lawn care and snow removal. In some cases, landscaping, lawn irrigation, and driveway resealing is also maintained in these communities. On low maintenance homes, the community association does not maintain or repair the exterior of the home such as siding, windows, or roof.
No Maintenance or Maintenance Free
The community association maintains all facets of the exterior of your home including lawn care, snow removal, landscaping, driveway sealing, lawn irrigation, exterior maintenance, and repair on your home or townhome.
In multi-story condominiums, this also includes elevator maintenance and cleaning of the lobby and hallways. Due to the fact that more work is required on homes that offer no maintenance versus low maintenance, the association fee is generally higher. This explains why association fees tend to be more for townhomes and condos than in single family homes.
Keep in mind that a portion of your monthly association fee is reserved for the maintenance of your home and yard and the remaining portion is reserved for the maintenance and governance of the community and its amenities.
As a buyer, be sure to do your homework prior to purchasing. Buying a low maintenance single family home could mean more work for you in later years. However, the money you could potentially save with the lower association fee on a single family home could be applied to the future repair and upkeep of your home. Still, with many of the latest materials and building techniques presently used by builders, the time and effort you put into your home should be fairly minimal.