Ask Andrew: Is Buying A Ground-Level Condo A Bad Thing?
By: Andrew Goodman
Q: I’m shopping for a condo and I’m seeing a lot of ground-floor units available in my price range. What should I be aware of before purchasing a ground-floor condo?
A: There is certainly a lot to consider when buying a condo, especially a ground-floor condo. Before buying a ground-floor unit, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages.
Safety/Privacy: Most buyers are concerned with safety when buying a ground-floor unit. Some buyers believe that since you are on the ground floor, it’s easier for someone to break in.
I can’t disagree with that. Common sense says a burglar would have an easier time climbing or seeing into a window on the ground floor versus one on a higher floor. If the condo association will allow it, ground-floor condo owners who have a safety concern can install metal bars on the windows.
Price Per Floor: I’m asked all of the time, “What is the price difference between a ground-floor unit and a condo on a higher floor?”
When purchasing a brand new condo, the developer usually puts a premium on each floor. For instance, every floor you go up can mean a $5,000/$10,000 premium added to the condominium price. But in resale, that dollar amount isn’t so set in stone. A ground-floor unit (unless it has a special feature such as a large patio) would generally not be worth as much as a unit on a higher floor. Still, the current market is the biggest driver of value.
Layout: Every condo building is different, but some of the lower-level units are superior to the floors above.
For instance, some of the ground-floor units in the Gallery at White Flint have higher ceilings than the upper-level units. In the Midtown Bethesda North building, the units on the south side of the sixth floor (the lowest level of the building with condos) have an extremely large patio.
So there could be some superior characteristics in the layouts of ground-floor units.
Convenience: Living on the ground floor is convenient. You don’t need to use the elevator or stairs, and there’s easy access in and out of the building.
In some cases, you can enter your unit from your patio door instead of having to walk through your lobby. The lower level units are also beneficial to buyers who have difficulty with stairs or need the assistance of a wheel chair.
View: When looking at condos, the view is always a factor. The higher up you go, the better view you would typically have. Obviously, the ground floor wouldn’t have much of a view — therefore higher units do tend to be in higher demand.
Buying a ground-floor unit is not necessarily a bad thing. However, you should keep resale in mind when purchasing. Some buyers don’t mind being on the ground floor and, because of some of the things mentioned above, actually prefer it.
But when considering resale, typically the units on higher floors are in higher demand. This is a generalization. Not all ground-floor units will have this effect.