Whether a townhouse is right for you depends on what you want from your living space. Owning a townhouse carries its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Typically, townhouses have a lower purchase price when compared to area detached, single-family homes. Drawbacks may include excessive association fees and mismanagement. Review the pros and cons of townhouse living before you invest in a unit.
Townhouses Vs. Condominiums
Although townhouses and condos have features in common -- they may even look alike from the outside -- there are some subtle differences. Townhouse and condo owners both typically pay homeowner's association (HOA) fees. But unlike townhouse owners, who also own the land their property is on, condo owners own the exterior of their homes, but they do not own the land and, in most cases, they don't even own the exterior of their homes. This primary difference between the two is an advantage to some, and a disadvantage to others.
Townhouse Association Fees
The townhouse's association can act as an advantage or disadvantage, depending on its fees and effectiveness. Association fees vary widely by development and are meant to cover the cost of repairs, improvements and maintenance of the spaces and facilities shared by all owners in the development. An association that is run well will limit fees as much as possible and take care of these common areas properly. A poorly-run association may run short of cash and charge special assessments on top of excessive fees and impact your quality of life.
Lack of Privacy and Space
A common complaint of townhouse living is a lack of outside space and privacy. Your unit is on top of neighboring units. The clustering of buildings often limits yard space in the front and back, so if you enjoy gardening, this may be a definite drawback. However, if you're not a fan of landscaping, the townhouse provides a benefit in this particular area.
Lower Maintenance Costs
Since you're not responsible for maintenance of areas owned by the association, you can enjoy the benefits of using those areas without having to deal with the hassle and full cost of upkeep. For example, if the development has a gym, you get to use the gym without paying a separate membership fee or dealing with equipment cleaning and repair. The association handles green area landscaping and road, pathway and sidewalk shoveling within the common areas so you don't have to.
Check the Amenities
Townhome developments offer many of the same amenities as condo communities. You may have access to boat docks, gyms, recreational centers, pools and other facilities, depending on the development. You are paying for these benefits in your association fees, but since the cost is spread over all the owners in the development, you may save over what you'd pay if you covered all the applicable costs yourself.
Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.