Nanoparticles with multifunctionality and high colloidal stability are essential for biomedical applications. However, their use is often hindered by the formation of thick coating shells and/or nanoparticle agglomeration. Herein, we report a single nanoparticle coating strategy to form 1 nm polymeric shells with a variety of chemical functional groups and surface charges. Under exposure to alternating magnetic field, nanosecond thermal energy pulses trigger a polymerization in the region only a few nanometers from the magnetic nanoparticle (MNP) surface. Modular coatings containing functional groups, according to the respective choice of monomers, are possible. In addition, the surface charge can be tuned from negative through neutral to positive. We adopted a coating method for use in biomedical targeting studies where obtaining compact nanoparticles with the desired surface charge is critical. A single MNP with a zwitterionic charge can provide excellent colloidal stability and cell-specific targeting.