Q: We would like to sell our 2 story single family detached home since our kids are in college and no longer live with us.

We would like to possibly buy a ranch condo that is being built near our community here in Marietta, Georgia.

These ranch condos are luxury ranch condos and we would like to know if you think these would be a good investment or maybe ranch condos in general. Do they typically go up in value like a single family detached home?

Also we read the covenants and they stated that hanging basket plants were prohibited on the front porch however the agent told us the builder told her it would be OK. Shouldn’t I get this in writing?

Thanks again for all your good information and hope to hear from you soon.

A: The word “ranch” typically means a single-floor living environment. But in a single family home/condo development, “ranch condos” could take on a very different aesthetic.

For example, more developers are constructing large master-planned communities that treat single family homes as condominiums. Each home is a condominium unit within the development but the condominium rules usually require the exterior of the single family houses to be maintained by the condominium association.

In doing a Google search on the Internet for ranch condos in Georgia, the results turned up at least one master planned senior community.

One of the benefits of these master planned developments is the ease of living in the community. The lawns, exterior of all buildings and other exterior maintenance requirements are performed by the condominium association. You may still need to take care of the interior of the home but some of the maintenance issues are taken care of for you.

In looking around for a place to buy, the community and its amenities that you buy into will have a strong bearing on what happens to the price appreciation of your home going forward. The good news is that brand new, well-planned communities have been appreciating faster than older homes in more established communities.

And senior communities should show stable appreciation as well, considering the eldest Baby Boomers turn 60 this year.

On the face of it, these are good things. But the entire real estate market is undergoing a shift and frankly, I don’t know where it’s going to end up. But if you buy in a well-designed community built by a quality developer, and you plan to stay there at least 5 years, you shouldn’t lose any money.

In general condominiums have not appreciated as quickly as single-family homes. However, recently in some parts of the country, condominiums have appreciated faster than some single family homes. But if you’re buying in a huge subdivision of ranch condos, and as long as the appeal of the product and location holds, you could see a nice return on your investment.

As for condo rules and regulations, you’ll be living with neighbors who are close by. You’ll have to learn to live with there rules and regulations as they exist. If the developer wants to amend the bylaws, great. Otherwise, even if the developer gives you something in writing, you will be better off if you lead a movement to amend the rules and regulations for the association. That’s because once the developer hands over control to the Homeowner’s Association, their rules and regulations may take precedence over anything the developer has given you.

The fact that you took the time to write means you’re thinking through all of these important issues at the right time — before you place an offer on a property. Good for you. Let me know how it all turns out.