Garage condos may prove to be a blessing for condo-dwellers, homeowners looking to downsize and those living in developments with storage restrictions. These garages offer a permanent, owned space to buyers in need of off-site storage. They can also be put to use as extra recreational and business spaces, or serve as affordable investment real estate.
Many homeowners living in housing developments need to deal with restrictive covenants that limit the ways in which they can use their property. These restrictions may forbid the construction of storage sheds or refuse to allow the storage of recreational or non-working vehicles on the property. Some property owners simply live in small homes with limited storage space for larger items. And others may just not want to let their valuable collector cars sit in a driveway exposed to the elements. Whatever the reason, garage condos may offer a potential solution.
Garage condos are storage spaces that can be bought and sold in a manner similar to traditional condominium units. Owners of these permanent storage spaces pay dues just like traditional condo owners, which vary depending upon location and the company that provides the unit. Amenities like cable television hookups, controlled temperatures and shared clubhouses are offered by many garage condo associations.
One such group is GarageTownUSA, founded by Tom Johnson and Cliff Mort. “[Johnson and Mort] were developers for [more than] 30 years in multiple states. While doing this, the recurring issue of space prompted them to look into solving this problem for their customers,” Cameron Barclift, assistant vice president at GarageTown, said. “With the rules and regulations most homeowner associations place on people there just isn’t room for the ‘American Dream’ at their house, so we provide that place for [them] to achieve it.”
Unit access for garage condo owners is not restricted to specific days or hours of operation; owners have a key to the property and can access their unit whenever they want. Unit security and setup are completely within the owners’ control, and the appearance of the units can be altered to fit owners’ specific needs.
In fact, units can be redesigned so that they are not storage units at all. GarageTown units have been put to a multitude of uses by owners.
“The primary use for GarageTown units is for storage…but the rest of the space is where it gets interesting,” Barclift said. “We have an owner that has a full batting cage, one with an art gallery [who] uses it as a private showroom for his clients and there are a lot of small business owners who use them for extra space.”
And with a growing demand for additional storage space, garage condos may also prove to be a profitable investment. Their relatively low cost may be particularly ideal for investors just starting out who don’t want to spend a lot of money. And because storage is inherently different from housing, garage condos may prove to be more stable in our unsteady property market.
“[Garage condos are] commercial real estate and owners have sold for a profit. Because of the unique product and it being commercial property we haven’t seen the dramatic decrease in sales compared to the residential market,” Barclift said.
Investors interested in purchasing a garage condo should look into companies with locations in their desired area. Companies like Ultimate Space in Billings, Montana and USA Garage Condos in Phoenix, Arizona offer services to individual regions. GarageTown has multiple locations in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Texas and Washington state. When evaluating properties and prices, potential garage condo buyers should consider which amenities are most important for their purposes and which are unnecessary. A garage used to store boxes of business inventory probably doesn’t need cable television, but a unit intended to serve as an off-site recreation room probably does. Unit prices vary by size, company and location.
If there are no available garage condo buildings in the area, investors with an entrepreneurial streak could consider opening their own location. GarageTown recently began offering franchise opportunities and is currently approved for franchising in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
“We are receiving approval [for additional states] very fast,” Barclift said. Entrepreneurs can keep an eye on the approved states list on the franchise page of the GarageTown website. Those interested in franchising opportunities can also get in touch with a GarageTown franchise specialist through the website for more information.