Condo Vs. Townhouse: Which Housing Option Is Right For You?
- by Rachel Burris
- October 31, 2019
If you’re in the market for a new home, there are a lot of considerations that must be weighedbefore pulling the trigger. One of them is the type of housing you’re interested in. Condo? Townhouse? You’ve undoubtedly heard these terms before, but most people don’t have a clear understanding of what a condominium is or what it’s like to live in a townhouse.
If you grew up in a traditional detached house with a yard, you might take for granted that there are other housing options available to you. But, these days, an increasing number of home buyers are forgoing the detached, single-family home in favor of the more community-minded style of living that condos and townhouses provide.
In order to determine which housing option is right for you, consider how much you’re prepared to spend, what type of lifestyle you’re interested in leading and how much responsibility you’re willing to take on. There’s no clear advantage of one option over the other, which is why you should get to know the ins and outs of condominiums and townhouses before you settle on your perfect home.
What Is A Condo?
When you hear the word condo, think apartment-style living. You own the space within the walls of your apartment, but nothing outside of them. Everything outside of your unit, including the building’s exterior, common areas and land, is owned by a separate entity but enjoyed by the community.
Of course, not all condos are apartments. Some condos are houses within larger residential complexes. Regardless of the type of unit, the principle is the same: you own and have exclusive rights to your unit but nothing around it.
So who’s in charge of maintaining the hallways, elevators and land outside of your unit? Every condo has a homeowners association that’s responsible for managing and caring for the property. In exchange for the work they do to ensure the property is kept up, each condo owner is required to pay monthly common charges and follow the rules set by the association.
What Is A Townhouse?
Townhouses, on the other hand, are much more similar to traditional houses in that they are multilevel and usually have a front yard and a backyard. However, townhouses are not detached properties. They are typically part of a row of narrower homes that are attached to one another through one or two walls.
After purchasing a townhouse, an individual owns the interior and exterior of the home as well as the property it sits on. As a result, the homeowner is responsible for all the upkeep required for the property, both inside and outside.
Even though townhomes are privately owned properties, they are still often part of larger communities that have their own homeowners association. While these HOAs are not responsible for the maintenance of the individual townhouses, they are in charge of the preservation of the community as a whole. As a result, they charge owners a fee for things like snow and trash removal. Some HOAs also have a set of guidelines that homeowners must follow in order to protect the look and feel of the neighborhood. And if the townhouse is classified as a condo, the rules can be even more restrictive.
What Are The Cost Differences Between Condos And Townhouses?
When deciding whether you want to buy a condo or townhouse, price is a considerable factor. Both options are typically more affordable than detached houses due to their community-centered living arrangements, but there are differences between condos and townhouses when it comes to cost.
Condominiums tend to be cheaper to buy because ownership is confined to the interior of the unit. Condo owners also tend to spend less on property taxes and insurance because there is less square footage, and owners do not have to pay taxes or insurance on the rest of the building or complex.
Although the purchase price and property taxes are usually more expensive for townhouses, the HOA fees are often lower. Because townhouse owners maintain their own properties, there are fewer communal expenses.
On the other hand, condo owners have to chip in to pay for all improvements and repairs deemed necessary to preserve or enhance the entire property that their unit is in. Plus, condominiums often offer owners additional amenities that are funded by the common charges owners pay each month.