What exactly is a zero lot? This is a term that I’ve only heard in Iowa. A zero lot home is a duplex style home where the owners share a wall. Each owner is sole-owner of the unit they own, including the land. This is NOT the same as a regular duplex, also available in the Iowa City market. A regular duplex look like a zero lot in that two families can live there. However, it’s considered to be one unit. By that I mean that it can only be sold as a whole, and not as two separate units. That’s what makes the difference between the two, zero lot style homes are sold as two separate units.
There are are A LOT of zero lot homes in Coralville and North Liberty and not nearly as many in Iowa City. (The photo is of a split foyer style zero lot home in Coralville). In Iowa City there are some “condos” treated like zero lot homes. What that means is that if you buy one of those condos you will NOT have the usual benefits associated with condo living. No-one taking care of your yard or snow removal, and you will be expected to maintain the outside of the home too. (Roofing, siding, etc). It is in effect treated as a zero lot. I don’t want to confuse you here, so keep in mind it needs to be a townhouse style condo with two units to fall in this category. It will be stated in the listing details on the Iowa City MLS if a condo is treated like a zero lot. There are a lot of condos on the market in Iowa City and the majority are condos in the true sense of the word.
The biggest advantage to a zero lot home is that you can generally get quite a lot of house for a good price. And it is only one shared wall. You don’t have too many neighbors or a condo association to deal with. Logically, no condo association means there no condo fees either. You have the freedom of a single family home where you call the shots, with a little less maintenance and a lower price tag than a single family home. Of course you are still sharing that all important wall. That may not suit you when it comes to the privacy factor. That’s a personal preference and something you’ll want to think about when you start your search for a home in the Iowa City and Coralville area.