Your HO-6 Condo Insurance Policy Questions Answered

HO-6 Insurance Coverage
HO6 Insurance May Be Required for Your Condo

If you’ve purchased a condo recently you may have been required to purchase HO-6 insurance coverage.  HO-6 insurance is required if your condo association’s master insurance policy isn’t “all-in” coverage.  Wondering what it’s all about?  Today’s guest post by Maria Lampros of Guard Insurance should answer all your questions.

What is an HO-6 insurance policy?

An HO-6 policy is like a home insurance policy, but instead is for condominium unit owners. Lenders have started requiring HO-6 insurance policies for new condo unit purchases. This is commonly known as “studs-in” or “walls-in” coverage.

Why do I need a condo insurance policy, when I already pay into my condo association master insurance policy?

When purchasing HO-6 condo insurance, it is important to take into consider the master condo insurance policy, if there is one. Many master insurance policies cover only the property, common areas and physical structure of your building. But there is a lot more to your condo than that.

Your condo is your home, and your home is filled with items that are unique to you and your lifestyle, like your furnishings, your computer equipment and any upgrades you may have installed. HO-6 Condo Insurance can provide coverage from damages that occur within your unit. Beyond insuring your personal belongings, your HO-6 policy can also help you control deductibles as well as provide comprehensive liability coverage.

What can an HO-6 condo insurance coverage policy include?

The basic categories of an HO-6 policy are:

  • Dwelling
  • Personal Property
  • Loss of Use
  • Additional Property Coverage
  • Personal Liability
  • Medical Payments to Others
  • Additional Liability Coverage

DWELLING

Since insurance coverage on your condominium or apartment building is normally purchased by your condo association, your dwelling coverage focuses on your real property within your condo. Up to a specified limit, an HO-6 policy provides coverage on a replacement cost basis to insure the items in the following four categories:

Alterations and improvements – Your built-in cabinets, kitchen appliances and interior partitions are examples.

Common areas – In the event that your condo association by-laws require you to insure property which is outside your condo, for example a portion of your hallway or stairs, entrance or walkway, coverage can be provided by your dwelling coverage.

Property exclusive to your condominium – Your real property that pertains fully to your condominium, for example, upgraded doors and safety locks.

Structures which you own that are located off premises – Dwelling coverage can also provide coverage for a private garage or storage shed which you own that is located in another part of your building complex. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Do Condo Fees Cover?

condo fees cover a variety of expensesWhat Do Condo Fees Cover?   Many first time real estate buyers tend to think of condo fees as an “extra cost” of owning a condo.  I know I did. Then I bought a house as my first home and quickly came to realize that home ownership inevitably had expenses associated with it. Condo fees started looking a lot more reasonable to me.

So what are the typical things that condo fees cover for condos in Cambridge and nearby towns?

The two expenses most often included in the fees:

Master insurance – this is the insurance policy that covers the building structure and common areas. Typically you’re responsible for insuring the interior of your unit and, if so, banks have started requiring you to purchase additional coverage, called HO-6 insurance, prior to your closing.

 Water and sewer bills –  Typically in Cambridge you’ll find just one water and sewer meter in the building. If that’s the case then those bills will be paid via the condo fees.  Some condo docs will spell out a formula that prorates cost by number of residents per condo but more often, the  bills are simply paid from the condo fees collected.

Other Expenses That May Be Paid Through Condo Fees

  • Heat and / or hot water
  • Snow removal
  • Landscaping
  • Exterior maintenance
  • Professional management
  • Elevator
  • Concierge or security desk
  • Swimming pool
  • Common area cleaning
  • Contribution to reserves
  • Common utilities

Many of the expenses covered by condo fees are simply the cost of home ownership that’s shared by you and other members of the condo association.  Some expenses may cover things that are less important to you – a pool, an elevator, a health club.  Others are costs in lieu of doing it yourself – snow removal, professional management, etc.  You have to decide if the benefits provided are worth the expense of higher fees.

High condo fees are not necessarily bad – they may be an indication that the condo association is budgeting with the long view in mind. Buildings cost money to maintain and an association that fails to budget for inevitable repairs and upgrades will suffer from deferred maintenance and the possibility of large assessments to cover overdue projects.

On the other hand, some associations prefer to keep fees on the low side while each association member banks their own money until such time the association decides to pay for a project by divvying up the cost among the members.

As a part of the homebuying process you’ll have the chance to review the condominium association’s financial documents. You’ll want to decide if you’re comfortable with the finances and the association’s financial style.

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Cambridgeport Condos – Cambridge Real Estate Market Activity

Cambridge MA Real EstateCAMBRIDGEPORT is a popular neighborhood for Cambridge real estate buyers.  Cambridgeport  runs from Mass Ave in Central Square to the Charles River between River and Sidney Streets.  Tree lined streets, parks, Victorians, lofts in converted industrial buildings, and turn-of-the-century multi-unit buildings make for an appealing neighborhood.  There are a variety of transportation options in Cambridgeport including buses that run through the neighborhood, the Red Line T stop in Central Square, and the Green Line just over the B.U. Bridge at the far end of Cambridgeport.  Three major universities are minutes away – MIT, Harvard and Boston University.

Cambridgeport Condos For Sale

Cambridge real estate buyers have 29 Cambridgeport condominiums to choose from today, with condos currently on the market priced from $319,000 to $1,495,000. 

Average list price for Cambridgeport condos currently on the market: $599,566

Median asking price for Cambridgeport condos on the market: $559,000

Average price per square foot: $465.  Prices per sq. ft. ranged from $312 to $690.  That compares to an average price per square foot of $480 for all condos currently on the market in Cambridge.

Median price per square foot: $499

Average days on market: 121

Median days on market: 53

Cambridge real estate buyers will find condos in Cambridgeport for sale in vintage brick multi-unit buildings, in converted Victorian houses, in recently built townhouses, and in a converted school building.  Three one-bedroom condos, fifteen two-bedroom condos, and eleven condos with three or more bedrooms are currently on the market in Cambridgeport.

Recent Cambridgeport Condominium Sales

Seventeen condos sold in the Cambridgeport neighborhood of Cambridge, MA in the last six months.  Sale prices ranged from $320,000 to $779,000.

Average sale price: $512,676

Median sale price: $475,000

Average price per square foot: $375

Average days on market: 82

Cambridgeport condos sold included lofts, townhouses, and condos in triple deckers and in multi-unit Victorian houses.

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Condos, Condos Everywhere – Arlington Condominiums

Arlington, MA Condominium Buildings and Styles

New residents of Arlington, MA are drawn to the town for its restaurants and shops, the parks, the Minuteman Bike Path, the proximity to Boston and more. Not quite the suburbs – not quite the city – just right for many. And if you’re in the market for a condo, Arlington has a wide variety of choices.  Here’s an idea of some of the condominiums you’ll find in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Classic Brick Buildings

The Irvington Condos in Arlington

The Irvington Condominiums

The Irvington on Pleasant Street and the condos at 230 Massachusetts Avenue are two examples of classic early 1900s buildings that were converted to condominiums.  The units are charming with high ceilings, hardwood floors, period detail and even, at the Irvington, fireplaces.  A one-bedroom unit was recently listed at 230 Mass Ave for $229,900.  The most recent sale at the Irvington was five-room, two-bedroom condo that sold for $400,900 in 2006.

Arlington also has two old brick school buildings that have been converted to condominiums – the Cutter School on School Street and the Locke School on Park Avenue.  The Cutter School was converted to condos in the 1980s and many of the units have interesting layouts. A two-bedroom at the Cutter School closed for $380,000 in Fall 2008. Many of the units at the Locke School have super high ceilings and those amazing, large schoolhouse windows. A one-bedroom condo with renovated kitchen sold for $315,000 in 2008.

Arlington Condo Buildings from the 1960s to the 1980s

Arlington has a number of good-sized condominium complexes in buildings that date from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Many of the buildings have elevators, most have parking. Some can seem a bit dated but are still on the modern end of the spectrum of Massachusetts housing.  In Massachusetts “modern” can often mean the 1970s when compared to much of the housing stock.  Some of the choices include:

Colonial Village was built as apartments in the early 1960s and is close to Arlington’s swimming hole -the Arlington Reservoir or “Res”.  There are 144 one and two-bedroom condos spread out in a dozen buildings (12 x 12 – a gross!).  A two-bedroom with the original kitchen and bath sold quickly – it closed 20 days after it was listed – for $158,000 in 2009. Looks like that was a bargain – other units on the second or third floor have sold for more.  The complex has an outdoor pool and parking.

The Brentwood in Arlington Center was built in the 1970s and has more than 100 units.  A 4th floor one-bedroom condo at the Brentwood is currently listed for $199,000.  The lobby has a retro feel and there’s an elevator in the building.

The Millbrook Condominiums were built in 1971 and are on Mass Ave not far from the Blue Ribbon Diner. The association consists of two buildings – one in front with traditional layouts and balconies and another set back from the street with loft-style units. These condos have a two-story living room and stairs to a balcony bedroom with adjacent bath. I’ll never forget my first visit to the Millbrook Condominiums.  It was spring and though the sliders were all closed the sound of the rushing water from the brook was mesmerizing.  It reminded me of one of my favorite stream-side camping sites from childhood and I was sold – someday I’ll sell all my stuff and retire to a one-bedroom at the Millbrook.  A brook-side unit sold for $235,000 in 2008.

Spy Pond Condos

Spy Pond Condos

The Spy Pond Condominiums on Hamilton Road were built in the 1980s.  The condo buildings are flanked by the bike path on one side and Spy Pond on the other. Pond-side units have beautiful views of the lake and picnic tables for residents sit by the shore. The most recent sale was a one-bedroom on the bike-path side that sold for $207,000 in 2008.  The last pond-side penthouse two-bedroom to come on the market sold for $535,000 in 2005.

Watermill Place was built in 1988 and has over 100 units.   These condos have central air conditioning, in-unit laundry, garage parking for many units, and a fitness room with exercise equipment.  Two Watermill Place condominiums are currently on the market – a one-bedroom for $259,000 and a two-bedroom for $319,900.

Condominiums in Multi-Family Buildings

Many of Arlington’s condominiums have been created by converting multi-families into condos.  Condo buyers will find varying levels of quality in these units – some will be close to rental quality, some have undergone modest renovations, and others have been gutted and renovated with quality finishes.  These buildings were usually constructed between the mid to late 1800s through the 1930s but renovations can transform them into units that will meet the standards of buyers who prefer more modern condos styles and amenities.   Condos in two and three unit wood frame buildings typically have between two and four bedrooms, with the larger units usually found on the second and third floors of two-families.   The diversity of quality and size is reflected in the sales prices which ranged in 2008 from $193,500 to $725,000.

New Construction – Arlington Adds to the Condo Inventory

The real estate boom of the last few years meant that a number of new condo developments were built in Arlington.  New condo complexes include:

Russell Place is a forty-unit development built in 2002 in Arlington Center near the bike path.  There’s a variety of styles among the units – townhouses, flats and lofts. A two-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse sold in 2008 for $530,000.

Avenue 264, a 27-unit condo building, was built on Massachusetts Avenue near the Capitol Theatre in 2005. The building has an elevator and the condos have central a/c, hardwood floors, in-unit washer/dryer, and garage parking.  A two-bedroom, two-bath condo sold in 2008 for $415,000.

A few blocks further down Mass Ave at the corner of Mill Street a development of 19 free standing townhouse condos, Heritage Square, was built in 2004. A three-bedroom townhouse on Mass Ave sold for $610,000 in 2008 and earlier in the year a larger unit on Mill Street sold for $675,000.

There’s something for every condo buyer in Arlington, including many more buildings than you see here.  If you would like more information about Arlington condominiums remember – I’m just a phone call or email away!

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Arlington Condos – Just The Facts

The Condo Market in Arlington, MA

 
Highest price paid for a condo in Arlington: $780,000 in 2005 for a free-standing townhouse condominium in Arlington Center.  
 
Least expensive condo sold in 2008: $95,000 for a two-room, 394 sq.ft. unit
 
Most expensive condominium sale in Arlington in 2008: $725,000 for a three bedroom, 2.5 bath condo in an historic house on Pleasant Street
 
Average Arlington, MA condo sale price in 2008: $372,917
 
Median sale price in 2008: $353,625
 
Number of condos sold in Arlington:
  •     In 2008:  226
  •     In 2005:  303
  •     In 2000:  159
  •     In 1998:  133
 
Condominiums make up about 20% of the individually owned housing inventory in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Condos can be found in buildings all over town – in converted two or three-family houses, in classic, older brick buildings, in former schoolshouses, in converted apartment buildings, in high-rise buildings, and in newer townhouse style developments.
See Arlington Condo Buildings and Developments for more information about the types of condos you’ll find in Arlington.
Want to know more? I’m just a phone call or email away!
 

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