If buying a home is on your cards, you will need to make many decisions. The location, budget, and type of kitchen are just a few among them. However, the most crucial decision would be related to the type of home – whether it needs to be a condo or a townhouse?
As home choices are abundant in the housing market, first-time buyers would be in a confused state. It’s true that each type of home has its own takers and before you decide your pick, it is crucial to have a clear picture of what you are gonna buy.
When you are not for a detached single-family home, a condo or a townhouse would be your option and you will be pulled into the condo vs. townhouse debate. Though there are many similarities between both, a condo is different from a townhouse. It is important you know both in detail, including the pros and cons to make the right call.
There are thousands of homebuyers who are not aware of the differences and as you read this article, I assume you are also curious to know what the differences between a condo and a townhouse are.
Worry not! We’ve got everything you need to know about both condos and townhouses.
Once you go through the article, you’ll be in a better position to decide which one to pick.
Here we go!
Condo vs. townhouse: the basics
Let’s start with defining the architectural differences between a condo and a townhouse are.
A condo is the shortened form for a condominium which is similar to an apartment that is an individual unit residing in a building or community of buildings. However, unlike an apartment, a resident owns a condo and it is not rented by a landlord.
On the other hand, a townhouse is an attached home owned by the resident and it shares walls with an adjacent attached townhome. A townhouse offers more privacy than a condo as it has got its own land.
Additionally, townhouse communities have homeowner associations (HOA) that take care of the exterior upkeep and insurance-related issues for anything outside.
Condos are often cheaper in comparison to townhouses as they come with no land. If you own a townhouse, you’ll have your own interior, exterior, and land where the home sits.
Both condos and townhouses are seen in urban areas, rural areas, and the suburbs and they can be one story or multiple stories.
To shed more light on condos and townhouses, we’ll see five major differences between them that may impact both your lifestyle and wallet.
7 Key Differences between Condos and Townhouses
A major difference in condo vs. townhouse is who owns it. When you call yourself the owner of the condo, you are responsible only for the maintenance of the inside of your unit. And you pay your share to HOA for the maintenance of the exterior. You have a joint owner of the whole property, which includes not just the building structure itself, but the common areas, such as the gym, pool, and grounds, as well as the airspace.
In the case of a townhouse, you are the owner of a detached single-family home. You personally own the structure and the land it sits on. You are responsible for the maintenance of the space where the home stands.
While we call homes ‘condo’ and ‘townhouse, you need to know they refer to ownership and not architecture. This means you may find condos that resemble townhouses or just the opposite.
This means, when you are looking for a townhouse, don’t go by the looks and instead you need to confirm with the real estate agent about the ownership.
As mentioned on the top, a condo is a private residence that is a part of a building or community with multiple units. And each unit is individually owned. There is no fixed size or style for a condo and normally condos are smaller than townhouses. Apart from sharing walls with adjacent units, condos also have shared spaces and are more community-based. The maintenance of the common spaces is the responsibility of homeowner associations or HOA which is run on a specific payment.
Normally townhouses come in a row and are single-family residences with at least two floors. A townhouse will share a wall or more with other units. Living in a townhouse is more like living in a detached single-family home. Usually, the living quarters such as the kitchen and dining room will be on the bottom floor while private spaces like the bedrooms are on the top floors.
But for condo units, there is no fixed position and can be at any floor level. While you are looking for a condo, be sure you are comfortable with the floor level and you can climb the stairs every day multiple times.
A condo is different from a townhouse in amenities and the common spaces you share. The amenities that a condo or a townhouse offer may be subjective and it doesn’t mean every condo will have the same features. However, amenities like pools and gyms are available at most condos which the residents can share. When you compare with a condo, the facilities might be fewer in a townhouse but most newly built townhouses boast clubhouses, pools, and gyms that the residents can share. Some townhouses also have tennis courts and recreational rooms where group fitness programs are hosted. You may even find private garages at some townhouses.
The next major difference is privacy. While you stay in a single home, you have the privilege of more privacy than you staying in a condo or a townhouse. Privacy is another key difference between the two home types. If you are too concerned about privacy, how comfortable you will be with a condo is doubtful. However, condos and townhouses are easier to maintain as they are taken care of jointly by the residents.
Townhouses are less noisy than condos as you’ve got neighbors only on either side of you and not above and below. You’ll also likely have a yard where your kids or pets can play, that’s separate from other common amenities.
Homeowners association fees
A Homeowner Association is a major factor in every conversation about condos vs. townhouses. This is because HOA is one of the big things that differentiate them from single-family properties.
HOA is run by the tenants including you and it handles the daily maintenance of the shared spaces. For this, every condo or townhouse owner needs to pay monthly fees.
While in a condo the HOA is managing the building, its grounds, and its interior common spaces, in townhouses, it is responsible for common areas, which includes general grounds and, in some cases, roofs and exteriors of the structures.
Apart from overall maintenance, HOA is also responsible for the general rules for the tenants. These may include rules around renting out your home, noise, and what you can do with your land. Sometimes, rules related to keeping pets are also created by HOAs. While you compare a condo with a townhouse, it is crucial to ask for the HOA rules and fees as they can vary widely from property to property.
Rules and regulations
HOA establishes the rules and regulations for both condos and townhouses and when we analyze the difference between condos vs. townhouses; we will realize that the rules for condos are stricter than townhouses. This may have both pros and cons, based on your preference as a condo owner. For example, when the HOA demands a common structure for the landscape, you may agree on it in the name of uniformity but for someone else, it would be an invasion into his freedom to arrange the landscape. However, one thing is sure – HOA rules help in proper maintenance and efficient management.
Though you may be able to pick out many differences between condos and townhouses, both share many similarities. And it is your choice to decide whether you need a condo or a townhouse.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What is the legal status of both condo and townhouse?
In the US and most parts of Canada, condos are managed under specific laws set by both the federal and local governments. Townhouses, however, are governed in the states by rules that also apply to single-family or detached houses.
How much does it cost to own a condo or a townhouse?
It is not an easy question to answer. Just like any real estate property, the cost would be based on the area, facilities, and many other factors. It is better to approach a real estate agent to get the exact picture. However, one thing is clear – a mortgage for a condo typically has a higher interest rate than a mortgage for a townhouse.
What are the pros and cons of living in a condo?
In a condo, you will get more opportunities to make friends but it would be noisier. In addition, HOA can have a big role in your living. If you’ve got a good HOA, life will be easier but when you have the wrong HOA, you may feel sorry for moving in.
What will be the value of appreciation for condos?
The rate of appreciation will surely be lower for condos than townhouses as developers prefer condos more. If you plan to resell your property, you are likely to make more money selling a townhouse. Privacy is a major factor in the preference for townhouses.