By R.J. DeLuke
Sales of condominiums and townhomes are brisk in Saratoga County, local real estate agents say. They have their own particular brand of customer and thus their availability does not affect the sale of single-family homes, whether existing or new construction.
The people who are buying condos are a mix of retirees, young professionals and those who use them as a second home, according to Janet Besheer, owner of Equitas Realty, and Julie Bonacio, founding owner of Julie & Co. Realty.
“In general, it goes back to maintenance-free living,” said Besheer. “People want more of a turnkey environment. They don’t want to have to do anything to the outside … You can just live and play.”
Bonacio said people buying condos are attracted by the low maintenance. “They don’t have to worry about snow plowing or raking leaves. Also, they can shut the door and travel when they want to.”
Condos and townhouses are about 25 percent of the inventory for Equitas, Besheer said. But there are a lot of new, large, single-family homes that are being built in the area on large lots.
“There’s still a market for people who want a larger home with some privacy,” she said.
By moving into a condo in the city, customers “want to be close to the action. They don’t want to have to drive. They want everything at their fingertips,” she said.
There is also a tax benefit in downtown Saratoga Springs. Besheer said for people who buy a condo that has a commercial element to it, the commercial tenants are paying most of the taxes. “There is benefit to buying a $500,000 condo compared to a $500,000 home. The taxes on the condo are almost cut in half,”
Some people in housing developments built years ago purchased the homes to be outside the city and have some land. Over time, some of those people wanted to move back to the city. That started the trend of all the condos and the high-rise buildings that started to crop up in the area “that we didn’t have before,” Besheer said.
“This whole new urbanization of downtowns” has happened in Saratoga, but also in cities like Albany, Troy and Glens Falls, she noted.
“We have a lot of young professionals, both are working. They are making god salaries and they don’t want to do the maintenance work,” she said.
Being in walking distance to downtown is important, said Bonacio.
“They can go to the fabulous restaurants and boutiques” and other downtown attractions.
“People love to be able to walk places … It’s a lifestyle,” she said.
Those in the downtown area can take part in the Victorian Street Walk or Chowder Fest and then go home. They invite friends up to experience those events and they stay overnight.
Bonacio agreed that condos and townhomes don’t adversely affect the single-family home market.
“There’s a market for everything,” she said. “There’s enough to go around.”
Bonacio Construction, owned by her husband Sonny, is still building condos in the area. “It’s going great. There’s a strong market for them.”
She noted Bonacio condos are pet friendly, which is attractive to people. Some also have rooftop terrace spaces that are popular. People are putting in outdoor kitchens or growing plants. The availability of space for those types of activities is a selling point.