There’s an abundance of housing choices in urban areas and most home buyers are left wondering which option would suit them best, when considering a townhouse vs condo.
Each housing choice, whether it be a condominium, a townhouse, or a detached single family home has its benefits and downsides.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a condo vs townhouse, then read on to learn more.
A Condominium (Condo) – Defined
A condominium also known as a condo, is a single residential unit where you own the interior space of the unit that is situated within a complex or building. This housing option is cheaper than a townhouse because the land that the condominium sits on is shared between all of the condo owners. This is also why condos are perfect for first time homebuyers.
Common spaces are collectively owned by all of the condo owners. These areas may include; swimming pools, lawn or park area, any other outdoor space and additional amenities.
These common areas are maintained by homeowners associations. The residents of the building have to contribute to homeowners association fees. These fees are utilized for the maintenance of the building’s exterior, trash removal, upkeep, insurance of the areas outside of the unit as well as other expenses associated with the upkeep of the property.
A Townhouse – Defined
Subtle features distinguish a townhouse and a condo. Townhouses are multilevel, independently owned homes. Townhouses also share one or two walls with neighboring units.
Townhouse owners also own the exterior, interior and land that the townhouse sits on. Townhouses generally come with HOA fees and will have some facilities that can be used by the owners within the townhouse community.
Differences Between A Townhouse Vs Condo
Some of the key differences between a townhouse and a condo include:
The main differences between a townhouse and a condo have to do with their ownership. Townhome owners generally own the land on which the house sits. This includes the front and backyard areas that have been sold with the townhouse. Townhouse owners also own the exterior of the house.
A Condo owner owns the inside of their unit and any external areas are owned collectively by all of the condo owners. The homeowners association fees cater to the maintenance and upkeep of any area outside of the unit. Such as, lawn care, trash removal, maintaining the pool or gym etc.
Townhouses and condos are also differentiated by the amenities they offer. Condos generally come with more amenities than townhouses. For instance, a pool and gym that residents are able to share.
Townhomes generally have less amenities than condos but are beginning to offer more amenities in newer builds. Such as, a clubhouse, playground, pool and even some come with resort style amenities.
3. HOA Fees
Typically, townhouses have lower monthly HOA fees, where as, fees for condos are typically higher. However, things are changing fast, and you might find a townhouse that comes with a heftier price tag depending on the amenities included. Some townhouses may also require you to pay more for maintenance of the exterior.
Privacy is a key factor when searching for a home to buy. You should note that both condos and townhomes offer less privacy then traditional houses. However, between a townhouse and a condo, townhouses offer more privacy because you are only sharing one or two walls, whereas in a condo you may be sharing more walls with someone above and beneath you as well.
You are also likely to have more space where your kids can play in a townhouse, which may be ideal for growing families.
5. The Rules And Regulations
Generally, condos tend to have stricter HOA rules than townhouses. This may be because HOA plays a more significant role in maintaining the exterior and common areas of the condo complex. However, if you want to be free to decide what happens with the landscaping and aesthetic choices, then you should choose to go with a townhouse.
The Cost of Owning A Condo Vs Townhouse
Condos are often cheaper than townhouses because with a condo you’re purchasing the area within the unit, which tends to be a smaller space than when you are purchasing a townhouse. When you purchase a townhouse, you are also purchasing the land that the townhouse sits on, as well as the front and backyard.
It is important to note that the prices that are shown within listings don’t provide the complete picture, as there are additional fees that you need to take into consideration. For example; property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, or any hidden fees.
When it comes to insurance, homeowner’s insurance for a condo is also cheaper due to the size of a condo vs townhouse. As mentioned earlier, residents of condos only contribute to the building’s insurance in the HOA fees.
These fees are paid monthly and can be high depending on what is covered. For instance, some HOA fees may cover the maintenance of the elevators, pool, spa, gym, roof etc.
If you aren’t paying in cash and plan to take out a mortgage for a condo, then you may have to pay additional expenses like a homeowner’s insurance. This insurance covers unexpected expenses that may arise, such as damage from fire or storms, theft, or liability protection in case someone gets injured within your home.
Townhouses pay lower HOA fees because it is the owners responsibility to manage the upkeep of the unit, both inside and outside of the townhouse. When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, the cover is more costly, as it covers the interior of your home and the exterior.
Condo and townhouses owners are also required to pay property taxes. When a townhouse is purchased, an assessor is sent to determine the worth of the property. They consider things like: neighborhood, square footage, number of rooms, and how much land you own.
Condo owners typically pay less property tax than a townhouse, in the same neighborhood. This is because they are only paying taxes on the interior of the unit. The property taxes also account for the shared spaces in the building, like the common areas.
It is important to note that taxes differ from state to state and are determined by the tax rate in your location as well as, your home’s assessed value.
Resale Value of A Condo Vs Townhouse
When considering purchasing any type of real estate, it is important to take into consideration the resale value. This will be beneficial if you decide to sell the townhouse or condo down the track.
It is important to note that the property’s value depends on a number of factors that may be beyond your control, such as the current or future market value. However, there are factors that you can control that you should consider when deciding between a condo or a townhouse.
When it comes to condos, a well managed HOA will ensure that the value within a condo complex is maintained. They will ensure that the exterior is always looking appealing and the facilities are functioning properly, which means you have nothing to worry about when it comes to making a great first impression. Exterior features such as a stunning pool area or well kept grounds may encourage a potential buyer to look past minor issues within the interior.
The resale value of condos really do rely heavily on where it is located. When a condo is situated in an urban area, such as San Francisco, it is generally considered a good investment. This is because the price of the condo will increase each year as the demand increases. However, if the condo is situated in a small town or rural area, it may not be worth as much when resold.
When it comes to townhouses, in recent years demand has increased. This is because people are looking for affordable, space efficient homes that also work well for their family. Due to the demand, the resale value of townhouses has increased. Location is also important to take into consideration, if the townhouse is situated in high traffic areas and urban areas, they have a better chance of getting a higher resale value.
The external and internal appearance of a townhouse, will also impact resale value. It is important to maintain the front and backyard and ensure that the townhouse is presentable and looking good.
Size is also something that needs to be taken into consideration when looking at resale value. If your condo is quite small, it might be harder to sell it vs a townhouse, which has more space.
Pros And Cons For Condo Owners Vs Townhouse Owners
Some of the pros and cons that you need to bear in mind include:
1. Available Space
To begin with, townhouses offer more space than condos, especially townhouses that have multiple stories. They often include outdoor spaces that elevate your lifestyle and provide more comfort to your family or pets. However, you will have common areas within a condo that your family can also enjoy.
With a townhouse, you will have a front yard and backyard that only you can utilize. Whereas, with a condo, you may have a balcony attached to your unit but you won’t have a front and backyard that is specifically designated for your own use. With extra space comes extra work in the form of yard maintenance which also needs to be considered.
Condos can provide a greater experience of living in a community than townhouses can. This is because common spaces are shared with other condo owners and you are likely to cross paths with your neighbors. Some HOAs even hold special events to build a community among condo residents.
When it comes to living in a townhouse, you have less of a sense of community because you don’t tend to see your neighbors as much.
If affordability is a major factor in your house hunting, both condos and townhouses are a cheaper option than a single family home. They are often cheaper in terms of monthly payments and initial investment, even when you incorporate HOA fees and insurance.
When comparing just condos and townhouses, condos tend to be cheaper to purchase then a townhouse.
In terms of privacy townhomes usually offer more privacy than condos do. This may be ideal for you if you are not looking to get too cosy with your neighbors.
When you live in a condo, you usually have someone living above, below and on either side of you. Whereas, in a townhouse you may have one person living on either side of you. So, there is generally less noise depending on the types of neighbors that you have.
5. Interaction With The HOA
A condo usually provides a better opportunity to interact with your HOA. The right HOA will make condo living seem like a breeze. With a condo, the HOA is in charge of ensuring that a management company is hired to address all services and general upkeep of the property.
Therefore, if you have any concerns, you can contact the management company directly and they will address the issue straight away. For example, the elevator breaks down, equipment is broken in the gym, or the garbage chute is blocked. The issues will be addressed quickly because there is a person designated to look after the building and property.
Whereas living in a townhome requires you to meet certain HOA standards. In a townhome, you generally will not interact with your HOA as often as a resident of a condo and there isn’t often a management company designated to look after the facilities.
Townhome HOAs have rules and regulations about landscaping, decorations, paint color, upkeep, and many other factors that affect the property’s appearance. While they may not have much to say about the interior of your home, they are concerned about everything else outside your walls.
The Bottom Line
The reality is that both townhouses and condos are popular choices. However, at the end of the day, it really comes down to cost, lifestyle and convenience. If you are looking for more space and privacy, than a townhouse may suit you best. If you are more concerned about the cost, living closer to downtown and would like to be apart of a closer community, then a condo would be the best option for you.
Overall, condos and townhouses are both great options depending on what you are looking for. If you’re still not sure whether you’d like to purchase a townhouse or condo than reach out to a real estate agent because they will be able to to guide you through the process and show you some options in your area which would suite your needs.
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