Lately, we’ve been noticing a lot of clients asking about the difference between townhomes and condos. They have been weighing their options and wondering how purchasing a condo differs from a townhome. Both of these are distinct parts of a larger property, with areas set up for private habitation and several shared or community spaces. The real differences between the two lie in the type of ownership, the fees associated, and the amenities included, rather than the layout of the property. So what are the advantages vs. disadvantages, what are the differences? We’ll do our best to explain.
Ownership: A condominium describes a type of ownership. One significant difference between condos and townhomes is that with condominiums, homeowners own the inside of the property, but the outside (yard, common areas, exterior of the home) are owned by an association. Condos will often look similar to apartments, but can also look like an attached one-story villa, multi-level townhouse, or even sometimes a single family home.
Conversely, a townhouse is also a property within a larger structure. It’s generally connected on one or two sides to the other structures in its complex. However, the owner will own the inside as well as the outside areas of the property. Think the patio, a small yard, the driveway, or something else outside the living area of the property. Remember, that a townhouse may or may not be a condo, depending on if they only own the interior of the structure or if they own the exterior, yard, and outside features of the property as well.
Fees: There are different costs associated with condos and townhomes. Many times there will be an additional homeowners’ association fee (HOA), no matter whether you buy a condo, a townhome, or a traditional single family home. Be sure to budget for this expense when planning out expenses, no matter what you plan to buy. If you purchase a townhouse, your HOA will many times take care of yard maintenance, trash pickup, and snow removal (in colder areas). However, the townhome owner is usually responsible for repairs to the property such as a new roof or gutter repair.
If you own a condo, however, a condominium association’s dues are usually a bit higher because they cover all exterior features such as the roof, elevator, walkways, and outdoor landscaping. These things are all owned by the community together. Having said that, homeowner’s insurance rates will often be less because only the inside of the home and personal possessions are included in the policy.
Amenities: Deciding between a condo and a townhome will depend on the level and kinds of amenities you’d like included. For example, many condos come with amenities like gyms, swimming pools, and sometimes front desk security. Alternatively, townhomes will more often than not have somewhat of a small yard or individual covered parking, and might have more outdoor space to enjoy.
Deciding between a condo and a townhome just depends on what kind of home ownership experience you want. If you’re more hands on and enjoy activities like gardening or customizing the outside of your home, you will probably want to opt for a townhome. If you’re often out of town, enjoy shared community amenities like pools and rec rooms, or simply want one of the lowest-maintenance options available than a condo might be for you! Remember, when looking at these sorts of homes, to check on the intricacies of ownership to determine which option is best for you!