Homeownership choices can vary greatly. Beyond the single family home, there are also condos, townhomes and villas as ownership alternatives. Factors that help to define those options include how much land the owner is responsible for maintaining and how close the residence is to neighbors and amenities.
A single-family home -- a house -- is a single, detached building that is generally home to one owner or family. The owner is responsible for maintaining and insuring the entire home and the property included with the home. A house differs from a condo or townhouse in that a house is surrounded by land on all sides. A house differs from a villa in that a house does not include the rich amenities that a villa includes.
A condo owner only has title to the condo interior and does not own the land on which the condo -- also called a condominium -- sits. Insurance is generally less expensive for a condo owner than for the owner of a house because the condo owner is only responsible for damage or accidents that may happen inside the condo unit. The buildings, land, exterior areas, and all public areas are insured by the condo association. The condo association also maintains the exterior areas, including lawns, siding and roofs. Condo associations tend to place heavy restrictions on owners for what is visible from the outside of the condo, including what can be displayed in windows or hung from balconies. Expenses paid by the condo association are funded by the condo owners via association dues.
A townhome owner owns the unit interior and the land on which the townhome -- also called a town house -- sits. A townhome differs from a house in that a townhome is not free-standing. Several townhomes are connected to each other. Insurance is generally more expensive for a townhome owner because the owner is responsible for the exterior areas of the unit and any patio area that is included in the owner’s title. The owner is also liable for any accidents inside or out on that owner's part of the property. The townhome association would insure the public areas, including parking lots, public buildings, sidewalks, and any recreational facilities. Townhome owners commonly pay association dues. The owner is also responsible for maintaining all exterior area of the unit, including the lawn, siding and roof.
A villa is a large, detached structure with spacious land surrounding it. It is very luxurious and may include amenities such as a pool, stables and gardens. A villa is generally home to a single family, in contrast to condos and townhomes that are designed to house multiple families. Villas are found in less populated areas while condos and townhomes are in more densely populated areas. A villa has the same maintenance and insurance requirements as a house or a townhouse. What sets a villa apart is its rich amenities and seclusion. Rather than living in a villa, the owner may decide to rent out the villa as a vacation destination.
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