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Can a condominium unit be owned in fee simple. If so,

how...since your physical ownership in...
Can a condominium unit be owned in fee simple. If so, how...since your physical ownership in a condominium is "the innermost paint layer"? As I see it everything else is owned in common...more like a leased fee.
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3/12/2018
legalgems
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Leasehold ownership is how a condo interest is typically held. What this means is that the leasehold owner has access to, but no ownership of, the common grounds and land.

In contrast a fee simple means the owner has complete ownership of the property, not just access.

legalgems
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
On every appraisal that I perform I am required to define the ownership estate of the property. In the case of a condo unit I have always replied "condominium". Many times I have had a "correction request" from Underwriters. My response has always been similar to the statement that I made to start this discourse with you. In this case they wouldn't accept my entry and I did change it conditionally to fee simple, based on the title report. I need to have a defensible basis for reporting the ownership estate as fee simple.(Response by Title Officer) "Hi Michael, I'll gladly weigh in for what it's worth, and can at least speak to our company's position. I've been working in the title industry 14 years now and have examined/reviewed thousands of titles in that time, so I have a decent first-hand experience with how condos are typically treated in this area. I have to say that leasehold ownership is by far much less common than fee simple ownership in a condominium. In fact, the only condominium that I can think of off the top of my head that had a leasehold ownership structure was the Salmon Creek Estates Condominium, and most or all of those units are now just fee owned and no longer leased. However, I could see a commercial/industrial condo being more likely to have a leasehold form of ownership by a tenant.
I agree with your statements below, that a condominium is not a construction style but a form of ownership, whereby the owner basically just owns the air space within a defined unit, with the common elements being owned in part by all condo unit owners, to the percentage as set forth in the condominium declaration. There could be limited common elements as well which are also owned by all with each holding a percentage interest but which has a use that is only for the benefit of one or more, but not all, of the unit owners. So the fee simple ownership of a condo unit is really just the same as a fee simple ownership in any other type of real property, other than that the common elements, as defined by the condo declaration and/or statute, are only owned in part by each owner, with easement rights held by all/the association to maintain the common elements.
Regarding a leasehold estate or interest, for such an estate to be perfected and insurable there must be a lease recorded on the public records, and so a title company will have notice anytime the ownership of a party is anything other than fee simple.
Hopefully that helps, though I'm not sure if I addressed your concerns entirely, so feel free to let me know if you have additional questions or concerns."(My email to Title Officer) "I'm passing this on to you FYI, and I would appreciate a comment. I am a Certified Residential Appraiser in Washington State and was the Appraiser who handled the job for which you issued the policy covered by your order #XXXXXXX. I have more than 30 years of experience in the field. I have always been told, by my instructors in my continuing education courses and by Attorney clients of mine that condominium is a form of ownership, not a construction style.
Ownership under Articles of Condominium, as I understand it, involves the right to occupy a unit in a condominium project coupled with the ownership in common with the other owners in the project of the grounds and improvements. The common description of physical ownership of a condo unit involves "the innermost layer of paint on the occupied unit." Fee Simple ownership, as I'm sure you are aware, and as described in Black's Law dictionary, is "the unconditional, complete, and total ownership of property". I recently ran the question by a Real Estate Attorney and his response was "Leasehold ownership is how a condo interest is typically held. What this means is that the leasehold owner has access to, but no ownership of, the common grounds and land. In contrast a fee simple means the owner has complete ownership of the property, not just access."
I'm really not trying to be critical of your statement of estate in your schedule A, I just want to have a firm basis for the statement of estate in my appraisals. I changed my statement of estate to fee simple based on your title report."
Michael Metcalf, CRA
Washington State Certified Residential Appraiser
________________________________

That is confusing since the "fee" in "fee simple" refers to the absolute ownership so if the common areas are owned by the association and the individual owners only own inside the unit, that means their ownership does not extend to the land.

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