Home Buying in Cambridge>Question Details

mscanloncamb…, Home Owner in Cambridge, MA

Do you think it is worth developing my modest single family with 2 stairways and land into condos?

Asked by mscanloncamb@yahoo.com, Cambridge, MA Fri Jun 28, 2013

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Interesting question. My opinion? Absolutely not! Single Family homes are so rare in Cambridge that no matter how modest your home is, in this market, it's probably worth more as a single that it would be as two smaller condos.

Over 60% of home sales in Cambridge annually are condominiums, meaning there would be much more competion as condos than there would be for a Single Family.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 18, 2013
If you are looking to sell you may get the most money out of the property by condo'ng. However, hard to say with certainty without knowing the address and area of Cambridge. Single Families do bring big money in certain areas of Cambridge so it may not be worth the time and money to convert before you sell.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 10, 2013
Changing a single family into a multi unit dwelling may not even be a possibility. The first thing to do is have a discussion with the town to see if it is even possible.

If it is possible you may find the cost of converting between construction and legal work is not worth it. You will need to look fair market value as a multi family vs fair market value vs individual condos minus the cost of converting. There may be personal reasons to do so that may be factored in as well.

As an agent that did numerous conversions between 2000 and 2006 there are also a myriad of other issues to consider. One important issue is if you home is highly mortgaged already and you convert to condos and the sale of one condo does not pay off the mortgage, where will the additional money to pay off the mortgage come from?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
You can call the City or a good real estate attorney to find out if it would be allowed to develop your house into 2 condos. There are many requirements and even if you have enough property to make the change, you may have to spend money on the inside to meet the requirements. If you determine that your property meets all the requirements to become condos, the next step would be to get determine the value of the would-be condos. How much you can sell them for, compared to selling the single family house, for example. You need an experienced agent who is experienced in Cambridge to help you with that - and be qualified enough to consult with you on ALL your options, not just the option of selling - and of course, I'd be happy to do so!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
Thank you, I am getting to the point when I am ready to have a realtor take a look. I understand it is a big decision.
Flag Fri Jun 28, 2013
More often than not, changing from an existing single to two units is not possible. You'll have to meet lot size, parking, floor area ratio, etc., requirements under current building code. Unless you have a small house on a big lot, it's probably not going to work. An experienced Realtor can give you a rough idea of the requirements, but an attorney is required for more in-depth analysis.

Those issues aside, economically it might make more sense to renovate the existing single family anyway. In weighing up construction, architectural and legal costs to convert to condos against the cost to renovate the as-is home, you might find that very little is gained, and a lot of time is lost.

One word of caution, in either scenario, be sure to work with people you trust and who know what they're doing. It's very easy to waste a lot of time and money if it's not done properly.

Hope this helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
What does "worth" mean to you? What are you trying to achieve?

The questions raised below are all pertinent. Depending on where your property is located, what are the regulations that will need to be followed? What is your background and experience in doing this sort of work? Based on your question, it sounds like you've not done this before ... So, even if it isn't entirely financially lucrative this first time ... is this a business you'd like to get into? It may be worth it for you simply for the learning experience.

Find out the zoning requirements. Find out the permitting requirements. Find out the labor requirements. What role can you play? What is the market value of your house now vs what it would be if you converted it? To how many condos? What kind of condos? What kind of condo market do you have in your community?

If you'd like more tips about how to figure this out, let me know.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
Couple of issues

1st is zoning does zoning allow it. (ask town)

2nd will it meet building codes ( check with building dept)

3rd is it financial feasible ( is it worth more as a single or a condo)

4th do you have the expertise, time and money to do it (legal, survey's, meetings with City, construction to code, sales)

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
Honestly it all depends on location and cost and with the return on that investment could be. The market in Cambridge is pretty hot and sales prices are up. Doing a condo conversion may work out and make you quite a bit of money if done properly. Have you spoken with a Cambridge Realtor to help you with this task and assessment of the property ?

There are many steps in this process from architects , general contractors to attorneys. Doing things properly can make the difference of a profit vs. loss.

Let me know how I can help
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
Do you have the cash to do it? You should first speak to a real estate attorney that is a Cambridge expert who might be able to map out what is needed legally. With extra land could you split the lot and build another single family or add a carriage house?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
That is a tough question to answer. Zoning into Condos seems to be one of the largest obstacles as well as money, architects, surveys, approvals etc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
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