Which is Better? Townhouse or Condo?



The question of Townhouse vs. Condo is a very popular, often asked question in the modern era. As with any big investment, you should consider your purchase from a wide variety of angles. Two primary variables to consider are: Lifestyle and Budget. Understand that both have their own individual pros and cons that are unique. For example, the level of upkeep and maintenance you’ll have to commit to is a major difference between Townhouses and Condos. Before I dive into these pros and cons, I want to define a townhouse and a condo and how they differentiate from your standard detached, single family home.


What Is A Condo?


A condo, which is short for condominium, is an individually-owned unit within a community of similar units. These communities often resemble and look like apartment buildings or complexes. However, rather than rent out each unit as one would do in an apartment complex, units are owned. The association of owners will typically have set fees to pay for shared facilities and amenities within the community. Some examples are gyms, pools, tennis courts, etc. The key trait to consider when it comes to a Condo comes down to ownership.

What Is A Townhouse?


A townhouse is a single-family home that often consists of two or more stories. When compared to a condo, a townhouse more closely resembles a detached family home. This could mean having a front yard and back yard, a garage, and a good amount of space. However, townhouses typically share a wall with one or more units that are similar in size and features.



Condo Vs. Townhouse Pros & Cons




When it comes to condo vs. townhouses, there are a number of factors every potential real estate owner should consider before making their decision. Both townhouses and condos come with their own share of advantages and disadvantages that involve:

  • Ownership

  • Homeowners Associations

  • Overall Cost

  • Resale Value

  • Maintenance

  • Limitations regarding customization

Ownership Of A Townhouse Vs. Condo

One important thing to note regarding Townhouses and Condos is that a Condos can sometimes look like a townhouse and vice versa. Again, a major difference between the two is what their ownership rights are. When you own a condo, you share ownership of common areas with the other owners in your community. The grounds and facilities are just two examples. Owning a townhome is more like owning a single-family home. This is due to the structure of the home itself and the property it sits on. To better inform your decision, be sure to ask what exactly you are purchasing ownership rights to.

Townhouse & Condo HOAs

One cannot compare townhouse vs. condo advantages before discussing HOAs. HOAs, or Homeowners Associations, are a group of elected board members that are chosen by other residents. Each unit owner has to pay fees – HOA fees – that go into a pooled budget. The HOA then makes decisions on how that budget is used for the maintenance and upkeep of the community.

If you’re looking at a potential condo or townhouse investment, you’ll have to decide whether having the added cost of HOA fees in addition to your mortgage and insurance payments fit your budget and are worth it to you.

The Cost Of A Townhouse vs. A Condo

Even with the cost of HOA fees, the price tag on a condo or townhouse is generally more affordable than a detached, single-family home. (Of course, this largely depends on your target location and neighborhood.) But between the two, which one is more affordable?

On average, a condo tends to be cheaper than a townhome because you are not investing in the land that your property sits on. When buying a townhome, you are typically buying the land that the property sits on as well. So, generally speaking, townhomes are more expensive. Location, property taxes, insurance, and inspections are other expenses to keep in mind. You can compare and monitor townhome and condo prices using a real estate search engine like Zillow or by using my Real Estate tools.


Townhouse Vs. Condo Resale Value

Although it’s impossible to predict the future market value of your home, there are some factors you can control now to improve your odds of getting a great resale value for your investment. For example, a well-managed HOA will be a good indicator that the general upkeep of your community will be well-maintained. Thus, it will help attract potential buyers when you’re ready to sell. This is a major factor when it comes to having a high value and high-quality home. Second, you can look at the appreciation rates of a townhouse vs. condo in your local area. Historically, condos have had a slower appreciation rate when compared to a townhouse or detached property. In some cases, however, the exact opposite has been true. You should always do your due diligence by researching local resale values against property types or by reaching out to me for more information. National or historical trends won’t always reflect what’s going on in your micro-market.

Condos, Townhouses, and Detached Homes

If you’re debating between purchasing a condo vs. townhouse, is it because you’re assuming you can’t afford a detached home? Condos and townhouses tout a cheaper price tag than single-family detached homes, but it doesn’t mean you should automatically take them out of the equation. For one, HOA fees alone could make up the difference in affordability. Without the added HOA fees, the mortgage for a detached home could possibly be cheaper.

Detached homes can vary greatly in size (the home itself as well as the land it sits on.) This type of ownership could be the right call for homebuyers who don’t want to live in a closely-inhabited community. Even more so if they don’t find amenities or facilities beneficial. In addition, detached home-owners can maintain and make improvements to their home without having to abide by the rules of a homeowner association.

If you already have your sights set on a condo or a townhome, then it’ll likely be a good fit for you. However, this serves as a reminder that a detached home could be yet another option to keep in mind.

Which Is Best For You?




Deciding whether to buy a condo or a townhouse — knowing which option is the best fit for you is the question of the hour. The previous sections addressed some important factors to be taken into consideration, such as physical differences and cost (including HOA fees). Other factors include looking at the available amenities and questioning how much you’ll benefit from them. Plus, how much maintenance or upkeep do you prefer to do yourself or leave up to the professionals? Location, size, and privacy are also important for many. At the end of the day, this decision will boil down to cost, lifestyle, and personal preferences.


Summary

Picking a winner in the townhouse vs. condo debate is no easy feat, mostly because each option has plenty of attributes. Again, you will want to consider the most important factors such as size, location, ownership value, HOA rules and fees, and potential future resale value. These factors alone might help you make a decision outright, but otherwise, it is a matter of personal preference. The best advice in this scenario is to do your due diligence, weigh the pros and cons, and then ultimately, go with your gut!

Based on the factors that were discussed, do you think you’d go with a condo or a townhouse? Have you ever owned one of these two options and have a preference? Let me know below in the comments what your thoughts are.

 

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(Original article adapted from Than Merrill).


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