Condo vs. Townhouse: Which Is Best For You?

Key Takeaways

What is a condo? |What is a townhouse? |Condo vs. townhouse ownership | Homeowners’ Association | Difference in cost | Condos, townhouses, & detaches homes
 


Detached single-family homes used to be the premier choice for homebuyers. However, the popularity of multifamily has skyrocketed as suburban and rural areas have become more densely populated. “Condo vs. townhouse: which is the best purchase decision for me?” This has become a key question for many homebuyers. As with any big investment, your decision should be made by weighing your lifestyle and budget. The level of upkeep and maintenance you’re willing to commit to is another factor. Keep reading to learn the difference between these property types, condo vs. townhouse pros and cons, and other concepts you should know before making your big decision.

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 apartment buildings or complexes, except the inhabitants are owners rather than renters. 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, and the like.

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.

townhouse vs condo

Condo vs. Townhouse Ownership

What’s interesting about the condo vs. townhouse comparison is that their physical features are not really what set them apart. Condos can sometimes look like townhouses and vice versa. What actually sets them apart 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.


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Townhouse & Condo HOAs

You cannot begin to compare townhouse vs. condo advantages before discussing HOAs. HOAs, or Homeowners Associations, are a group of board members who have been elected 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. Check out this article on everything you need to know about HOAs. It provides a more detailed overview of how HOAs work, their pros and cons, and how the fees are used.

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.

Differences In 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. First, 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. Second, you can look at the appreciation rates of a condo vs. townhouse 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. National or historical trends won’t always reflect what’s going on in your micro-market.

condo vs townhouse pros cons

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 sans 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 condo vs. townhouse 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? Weigh in on the debate, below!

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