A Look at Condos and Townhomes in Southern Orange County

REAL ESTATE

By Gary A. Miller

What is a condominium? What makes a particular residence a townhome? It is not always immediately clear, when looking at a property, in exactly which category it belongs. In this column, I want to talk about the definitions related to these categories, as well as take a deeper look at these segments of the housing market in southern Orange County.

Let’s begin with some definitions. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC) publishes a Questions and Answers on Condos and Townhomes that makes the following distinction: “Condo unit owners own the inside of their units. Townhouse owners own the complete unit, including exterior surfaces and the land on which the unit is built.”

It is often mistakenly stated that condo units are horizontal and townhome units are vertical. However, as this definition from the NCREC demonstrates, that statement is not always accurate. In fact, it is possible for a home that looks like a townhome, or even like a single-family home, to be classified as a condominium.

To add further confusion, in the Multiple Listing Service, which is the system used by real estate agents to promote and share home sale opportunities (and which feeds data into sites like Zillow.com, Realtor.com and others), there are two separate categories related to this topic: 1) condo; and 2) attached. Townhome is not a category within the MLS.

For the remainder of this article, I will reference the categories of condo and attached homes.

To date in 2021, there have been 288 closed sales of condo and attached homes in the MLS in the ZIP codes 27510, 27514, 27516, 27517, and 27707 within the boundaries of Orange County. That’s a relatively small number when compared to the 691 closed sales of detached homes during the same period. Although this is a year of low inventory, the 288 closed sales for condos and attached homes are not far off prior years, as noted in the table below.

Year

2021 (to date)

2020

2019

2018

2019

Number of condo and attached sales*

288

308

324

356

348

*Closed sales reflected in the MLS in the ZIP codes 27510, 27514, 27516, 27517, and 27707 within the boundaries of Orange County.

Of the 288 closed sales in 2021, 179 were in the condo category. Among these, the average sales price was $244,948, with a low of $56,000 and a high of $740,000. These condos sold with an average of 14 days on the market, with a low of four days and a high of 120.

The remaining 109 properties were in the attached category. For these attached homes, the average sales price was $388,100, with a low of $115,000 and a high of $976,000. These sold, on average, a bit faster, at 10 days on the market, with a low of three days and a high of 145.

The table below shows the price distribution across both categories of homes sold so far in 2021.

Sales price

<$100k

$100k-$199k

$200k-$299k

$300k-$399k

$400k-$499k

$500k-$599k

$600k-$699k

>$700k

Number of properties

27

67

85

55

29

11

5

7

There was a wide range of sizes among these properties, with the attached homes generally having more square footage than the condos, as seen in the following table.

 

Condo

Attached

Average square feet among sold homes

1058 sq ft

1774 sq ft

Highest among sold homes

2308 sq ft

3903 sq ft

Lowest among sold homes

100 sq ft*

860 sq ft

*It is likely that this is a data entry error, as I’m not confident there is a 100-square-foot condo available in Orange County. The next smallest record shows 540 square feet.

As most residents of the area know, Chapel Hill has experienced a surge in construction of condo-like apartment buildings. Although it is likely there would be interest in and demand for attached and for-sale condo properties, so far we have not seen a similar rise in construction of them.


Gary A. Miller is co-owner of Red Bloom Realty. He has lived and worked in Chapel Hill off and on since 1994 and is an avid musician, kayaker, traveler, and former educator.

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