Townhouses and condos are two alternative choices for buyers seeking to own a home but do not want or cannot afford a traditional house. Though these two types of properties are very similar, there are some differences for a potential owner to consider. Which of the two types of properties is better is a matter of personal opinion, and each buyer will have to decide for herself.
Cost and Fees
Generally, condos cost less than townhouses with comparable living space. This is because a condo owner owns less property than a townhouse owner. While a condo owner typically owns only what is inside the walls of the condo, the townhouse owner owns everything from the roof to the land below the townhouse. Though townhouses typically cost more, the monthly fees for a townhouse are often less than for a condominium. This is because condominium fees cover more things, such as the upkeep of common areas that townhouses do not have such as shared entrances and hallways. Sometimes the condominium fees also cover some utility costs.
Both townhouse and condo owners generally have access to common areas in the development, but townhouse owners often have some private outdoor area. For example, townhouses often have a small yard and a private porch or balcony. The yard may even have a privacy fence. Though these spaces are not large, a private outdoor area is advantageous for those with small children or pets or for owners who simply want some privacy. Townhouses may also provide a private garage and storage space.
Condominium associations often have stricter rules than townhouse associations. This is due to condominiums having more shared space. For example, condominiums may not allow dogs or restrict the dog’s size. Condominiums usually restrict changes within the condo as well, such as specifying what types of floors that unit can have. Townhouses do not have these restrictions. Though a townhouse owner must follow some guidelines, he can also make changes to the exterior of the home.
As townhouse owners have more ability to personalize and upgrade a property, it is easier for the homeowner to make her townhouse stand out from nearby competition and command a better price. For the condominium seller, cutting the price is basically the only way to compete with other condominiums for sale in the development. As lenders consider townhouses to be a single-family home, it may be easier for buyers to finance a townhouse. This may be a factor for some buyers. However, as with all real estate, location is important. A condominium in a great location, such as on the beach, will often appreciate in value and sell more quickly than a townhouse that is not as well located.
Jay Motes is a writer who sold his first article in 1998. Motes has written for numerous print and online publications including "The Dollar Stretcher" and "WV Sportsman." He holds a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in history and political science form Fairmont State College in Fairmont, W.V.