Contents

There are a lot of considerations that must be weighed up before pulling the trigger and purchasing a new home. One of the things to consider is what type of housing you are interested in when buying or renting. Do you want a townhouse or condo? Well, you have most definitely heard of these terms before, but most individuals still don't have an understanding of what it's like to live in a townhouse or what a condominium is.

You might not know that there are other single-family homes available if you grew up in a traditional detached house with a yard. These days, many home buyers are leaving the detached single-family home for the more community-friendly style of living that townhouses and condo apartments tend to provide.

It is good to consider how much responsibility you are willing to take on, what type of lifestyle you are interested in leading, and how much you are prepared to spend. That can help you to find the perfect home to suit your and your family's criteria.

There is no primary advantage of one choice over the other, which is why you should get to know the pros and cons of the townhouse development and condo debate before you settle for the home of your dreams.

What Is the Difference Between a Condo and A Townhouse?

Condos and townhouses both refer to a type of ownership, which means no rent is payable to the landlord or property owner. However, owning a townhouse and a condo offers entirely different homeowner experiences, including the part of the property you have to maintain, how much you pay, and what you own.

Generally speaking, townhouse owners own the property surrounding land and the home's structure but might end up sharing a wall with neighbors. Alternatively, a condominium owner has a single unit within a large complex or gated suburb.

We want to help you better understand the distinctions between condos and townhomes, so let us delve a little deeper into both of these terms.

What Is a Condo Owner?

If you hear the word "condominium", it should make you think of apartment-style dwellings. You own the space within your apartment walls but anything outside of the unit is not yours. Everything outside the condominium, including the land, common areas, and the building exterior, is enjoyed by the community but owned by a separate entity.

It is good to note that not all condos are apartments and vice versa. Some houses are condos within large residential complexes or golf estates. Regardless of the style of the unit, the principle remains the same; you have exclusive rights and own the unit, but nothing around it.

What Are Townhouse Owners?

On the other hand, townhouses typically are similar to traditional houses in that there are multiple levels and, in most cases, usually have front and backyards. However, a townhouse is not a detached property and typically consists of a row of narrow homes connected by one or more walls to the neighbor's property.

After buying a townhouse, the person owns the exterior and interior of the home and the land it sits on. That means that the homeowner is responsible for all the maintenance required for the property, both outside and inside.

It is time to look at some of the most vital determining factors of these apartments, which can help you decide between a townhouse or a condo.

Condo vs Townhouse - Important Factors to Consider

Homeowners Associations

If a condo owner is responsible for their unit, who must maintain the land, elevators, and hallways outside of the apartment? Condo units generally have homeowners associations, which are responsible for taking care of and managing the property.

It is required that condo owners pay a common monthly charge and follow the rules set out by the association in exchange for the property upkeep work. These associations are responsible for everything, and if you have any problems with your condo, you must not hesitate to inform them.

These homeowner associations oversee the community's preservation for a while and are not responsible for maintaining the individual townhouses. As a result, these associations charge homeowners a small fee for trash removal, exterior maintenance, or snow removal services.

Some HOA's require that homeowners follow a set of specific guidelines to protect the feel and look of the neighborhood.  If the townhouse is classified as a condo building, you might find that the rules are even more restrictive.

Costs and Higher HOA Fees

When deciding whether to purchase a townhouse or condo, price is a factor that comes to mind. Both choices are generally cheaper than staying in detached houses due to the community-style living arrangement. However, there are some crucial differences between townhouses, other units, real estate, and condos regarding pricing.

Condos tend to be more affordable to purchase because ownership is constricted to the inside of the unit only. All the condo owners typically spend less on insurance and taxes because there is minimal square footage space and living space; condo owners don't need to pay insurance or property taxes on a complex in urban areas or a townhouse community.

Although the living quarters' taxes and purchase price are generally more expensive for townhouses, the HOA fees are often lower. There are fewer communal expenses because townhouse owners maintain their properties.

On the other hand, condo holders are required to partially pay property taxes for all repairs or improvements deemed necessary to enhance or preserve the land where their unit is situated. Most condos provide the owner with additional common shared spaces covered by standard charges through monthly condo fees.

Condo Owners, Community, Property Taxes, and Amenities

Townhouse and condo dwellers benefit from the style of community living that this sort of home provides. Although these housing choices are more based around community than detached homes, townhouse and condominium owners experience entirely different lifestyles.

While condos lack a private outdoor space and are tiny, they offer outstanding convenience, ideally suited for urban environments. Many people choose condos because of the many shared amenities it offers residents, including high-rise rooftop decks, a dining room, playrooms, event spaces, swimming pools, fitness centers, and security. Some condos even include rock climbing walls, bowling alleys, and screening rooms to entice future home buyers.

These factors and regulated HOA condominium boards create an excellent opportunity to bond with neighbors and get to know nearby residents.

Townhouses include increased space inside and outside the home and provide owners with the lifestyle of a single-family home that cannot be ignored. There are neighbors to socialize with and yards for the kids to play in, making single-family homes a great option to consider. While having neighbors close by can be suitable for some people, townhouses offer owners more privacy than the condo community or condo buildings. Still, townhome owners need to remember that they are trading privacy for increased responsibility and the lack of shared amenities.

Responsibilities, Rules, and Regulations

Homeownership comes with many obligations, but luckily for condo holders, they can dodge most of it because they are only responsible for the upkeep of their apartment. Everything else is handled by the condo homeowners association fees or a condo association, so if the roof leaks or the elevator isn't working, the HOA fixes it.  No matter the problem, as long as it's outside your unit, the homeowners' association should arrange someone to fix the individual unit.

Owning a condo has minimal burdens, but condo owners must abide by the rules set out by the homeowner associations. These rules are commonly referred to as conditions, covenants, and restrictions and are essential to maintaining a healthy co-existence space.

These rules ensure that all condo owners are equally satisfied with the co-living experience, which means laws can regulate the appropriate use of units and noise control measures. There are also some guidelines regarding property tax and alterations; one is about the type of remodeling that an owner can undertake because the value of each unit directly impacts the value of the entire property.

Townhouse owners have a vast range of responsibilities aligned with their detached homes, so please be aware of that when making your first purchase. It is up to these individuals to maintain every aspect of their land and their homes' condition.

While HOA's might arrange for garbage to be picked up or snow to be plowed, it is up to the person to adhere to the specific aesthetic standard covering their property. There might be rules that dictate owners must maintain landscaping, paint exteriors, or mow their lawns during their stay in the neighborhood. No matter how absurd or silly these rules might sound, townhouse holders are responsible for following them since they could risk getting a fine.

Resale Value and Financing

If you consider purchasing a townhouse or condo, you might want to know if the property can hold its value when it's time to sell. You might be wondering, is one property type more valuable than the other?

In most cases, the home value depends on the space's conditions and various other market conditions. Buyer preference often dictates lifestyle choices, which means neither home is intrinsically more valuable than the other.

Newer and more modern spaces often command a higher value than a space that is outdated and unmaintained. That is true for both townhouses and condos, so keep that in mind when looking to purchase your dream home.

However, outside the apartment itself, condo owners need to note whether common area finishes are modernized or not, as this could affect the value.

The extent to which you upgrade or care for your home is vital in determining its resale worth. If you choose a townhouse, you are entirely responsible for completing all work necessary to retain its value. It's good to remember that if you purchase a condo, you are only going to be responsible for maintaining your particular unit.

However, if you want to buy a condo, you need to confirm that it is well maintained and updated while at the same time located in a reputable building. If the buyer is appalled at the facility's state, it does not matter how well the individual's home has been cared for.

The impact of the home's ultimate resale value could make it challenging to finalize the condominium.

Conclusion

When deciding whether a townhouse or condo is appropriate for your current lifestyle, the decision often comes down to priorities and personal preference. Are you looking for privacy, convenience, or affordability?

Condos are great for first-time homeowners who are not ready for the responsibilities of a townhouse and seek the convenience it provides. On the other hand, townhouses offer many opportunities for growing families who require a safe environment and outdoor space that fosters close condo and townhouse communities.

Be sure to check out mortgage rates by using mortgage calculators, and if you have found the ideal home for you, financing is the next step to take before purchasing your new home.

David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his two children, he's writing articles here!