Sold in Belmont: What Would You Have Bought? The Renovated Condo or One of the Smallest Houses in Town

A weekly recap of residential properties sold in the past seven days in the “Town of Homes.”

 68 Unity Ave. #1 Condominium (1924) Sold: $489,750. Listed at $439,900. Living area: 1,018 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 33 days.

 33 Knox St. Ranch (1957) Sold: $526,000. Listed at $549,000. Living area: 1,027 sq.-ft. 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 92 days.

The town residential properties that sold last week in Belmont are similar in two ways; each are affordable relative to the median value of homes in these parts – nearly $840,000 according to town data – and each a tad more than 1,000 square feet of livable space. While the Unity Avenue property is a single-floor condominium on the Cambridge line, the Knox Street ranch is snug in Belmont Hill.

So, which would you have bought?

The ranch: The structure is yours, you don’t have to share common spaces and parking have a neighbor living above you – God only knows who’ll move in next year – or pay a condo fee on top of property taxes. It’s located on “the hill,” it’s quiet and you can jump right onto Rt. 2.

But it’s just a smudge more than 1,00o square feet of interior space, making it one of the smaller homes in Belmont. You better be on good relations with whomever you are living with because there is limited private space available. It’s one of the few houses in this one-time subdivision previous owners didn’t build-on extra space. In fact, a look at the interior shows a great deal of original detail. Ranch developers wanted to put them up as cheaply as possible. The result: middling-quality material that should be torn out and replaced. The ground floor rooms need extensive rehab and fast.

The condo: As a South End developer once told me, people who buy condos are “purchasing air,” as the owner’s property rights extend only to the four walls in which the condo lies. Want to improve the common area? Renovate the garage? Replace the grass with stone in the backyard? Hello, neighbor! You are constantly seeking someone else’s cooperation to increase the properties value, improve your quality of life or just park your car in a slightly different location. It’s like being a kid again, living in the same room with your brother. That’s fine if you like him; if not, it’s potentially a nightmare.

But just look at the Unity Avenue condo’s interior: now this is great detail. French door, built-in cabinets, closets with real doors, hardwood floors that you can polish, an open kitchen design with new everything. Recently renovated, you can move in and not worry about putting mucho dollars into the property. It shouldn’t surprise anyone the condo sold for $50,000 above asking in only a month.

I pick the condo.

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