Condo vs. Townhouse: What’s the Difference?

In 2019, 31% of all home buyers were first-time buyers. When it comes time to buy your first property, it can feel a bit like a riddle to determine which type of home is best for you and your family.

There are pros and cons to all types of dwellings, whether you are considering a townhouse, condo, apartment, or single-family home.

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However, there are a number of similarities that make the distinctions between townhouses and condos a bit confusing. What exactly is the difference when comparing a condo vs townhouse?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

What Is a Condo?

The term condo is short for “condominium.” This is a residential unit that exists within a larger building. Depending on the building, the layout can vary widely.

In some buildings, you might find that there are a number of units on each floor. This means that their might be other units next to you or above or below you. You can find condos in just about every part of the price spectrum, including suburban condos and luxury urban high-rises.

What Is a Townhouse?

A townhouse is basically a hybrid between a condo and a single-family home. Most townhouses are two or three stories tall. While they don’t have any units above or below them, they share walls with the next-door properties.

Both young families and first-time homebuyers find townhouses to be a popular option when it comes to purchasing a property. You can also find townhouses in communities that are geared towards active adults above a certain age.

Condo Vs Townhouse: Key Differences

When it’s time to purchase a property, there are likely so many questions swimming through your head.

One of these questions might be: should I buy a townhome or is a condo better?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for as a property owner. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences to help you decide.

Types of Ownership

When you are comparing different property types, one of the biggest differences between a condo and a townhouse is the maintenance that will be your responsibility as the owner.

If you own a condo, you are typically responsible for maintaining the inside of your particular unit. Then, it is common to pay homeowners’ association dues that cover the maintenance costs of the building’s amenities, exterior, and common areas.

When it comes to owning a townhouse, there are two standard types of ownership. These are condominium and fee simple.

If you have condominium ownership of a property, it means that the upkeep of the exterior is covered by HOA fees. In this ownership structure, you only own the inside of your townhome.

On the other hand, fee-simple ownership means that you’re responsible for both the interior, exterior, and yards of your home.

Amenities

The amenities and common spaces available are different between condos and townhouses. Not all buildings or communities will have the same amenities, but most condos have things like gyms and pools.

There are usually fewer amenities at townhouses. However, newer construction townhouses tend to have more amenities than older ones.

It’s common for townhouses to have a pool, clubhouse, or playgrounds. In newer townhome communities, particularly in active adult communities, it is more common for there to be resort-style amenities available.

In some of these communities, you can even find private gyms, tennis courts, and group fitness classes.

Privacy

When you buy a condo or a townhouse, you generally don’t have as much privacy as you would if you lived in a single-family house. At the same time, though, single-family houses can be more work and money to maintain than condos and townhouses.

If you’re looking to buy a townhouse or a condo but are hoping for more privacy, a townhome is the better option. While you will have neighbors to either side of you, you typically will have a private yard space that is all your own.

Homeowners Association Fees

Both condos and townhouses can have homeowners association fees that go towards the maintenance and amenities of the community. In general, but not always, the fees are cheaper at townhouses than at condos. However, it’s important to understand that cheaper HOA fees typically mean that you are paying for several aspects of maintenance on your own, so it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper to live at a townhouse than a condo overall.

Rules and Regulations

While every community is different, it is common for HOAs to play a larger role for condos than for townhomes. This means that rules and regulations can be more strict in condo communities than in townhome communities.

Depending on what your preferences are, you might find it more or less appealing for there to be stricter rules and regulations. Some people might want their community to have a more uniform look, while others might value a more “live and let live” attitude about what others do with their property.

The rules associated with HOAs definitely have their pros and cons. Some of the advantages include having cost-effective and efficient maintenance as well as assigned parking spaces. On the downside, you might find it restrictive to not be able to freely alter your property in the ways you choose without getting permission.

Condo Vs Townhouse: Which Is Right For You?

When it comes to real estate, there aren’t really right or wrong answers. However, depending on your personal preferences and needs, certain types of homes might be far more suitable for you than others. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be thorough in researching what your options are.

Did you find this article comparing a condo vs townhouse useful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for all things real estate!

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