Home Tip Tuesday: Condos and Townhomes - Do You Know the Difference?

Townhouses and condominiums help make it possible for people in crowded urban or popular vacation areas to own a home.  Both properties are smaller and require less maintenance than traditional single-family homes, but there are important differences between a condominium and a townhome. Before purchasing either one of these properties, it’s crucial to understand how the differences could affect your home’s value and your quality of life while living there.

Condominium Defined
A condo is similar to an apartment in that one large building may house a handful or hundreds of condos. The more upscale a property is, the more shared amenities the complex will offer, such as a swimming pool, outdoor cooking areas, exercise facilities and more. Condo buyers own their individual living space, but not the property the complex is built on. The shared amenities are communally owned by all the residents of the complex. A Condominium Association fee is paid over and above the mortgage, and those fees are used to maintain the building, grounds and shared areas. Some complexes may allow for residents to reserve certain amenities for private use during certain hours/days; however, condo life comes with the expectation that shared spaces will be just that—shared. Some potential buyers may view that as a negative, but social interaction is part of the appeal for many condo dwellers. 

Townhouse Defined
Townhouses are less apartment-like than condos. They are individual houses built side-by-side with each townhouse sharing at least one wall with another townhouse. Townhouses generally provide more square footage than condos, and some may even come will small private yards. Technically, a townhouse owner also owns the land beneath the building as he or she would with a traditional single-family home.  Most townhouses are managed by a Home Owner’s Association, and extra fees apply. In a row of townhouses, each unit looks almost identical from the outside and have the same floor plan inside. As long as it’s within Home Owners Association guidelines, owners can change the paint color or landscaping of their home or remodel the inside. Townhouse complexes may also include shared spaces like a swimming pool or community meeting house, but amenities are generally fewer than with condominiums. Townhouses provide a more private lifestyle that condos, but at a lower cost and less maintenance than a traditional home.

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