Townhouse

Everything you need to know about buying a townhouse in 2021

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Townhouses have become extremely popular in real estate markets across Canada, offering homebuyers the ability to get more space than an apartment, at a lower price than a single-family home.

The lack of maintenance and the growing interest in the suburbs have first time buyers and empty nests take a close look at townhouses this year. Interest in townhouses is one of the many major real estate market trends to watch in 2021.

Before you start your home search, here’s everything you need to know about buying a townhouse in 2021.

The two main types of townhouses

If you’re looking for a townhouse, you’ll likely hear the phrases “freehold” and “condominium / strata” frequently during your home search. These are the two main types of townhouses, and understanding the differences between them can put you on the right track and save you a lot of time on your research.

Freehold townhouses

When you hear “freehold” you can think of this type of property as a detached house that looks like a townhouse. Although they have the physical characteristics of a low rise townhouse, they have the traditional legalities of a detached house. Nothing here is co-owned or co-managed with other owners nearby.

Freehold townhouses generally give you control of the interior and exterior of your home, giving you the freedom to make changes to your property as you see fit. They generally come with zero condominium fees, no risk of special assessments, and more maintenance work for owners. More information on these advantages and disadvantages later.

Townhouses in condominiums / strata

In most of Canada, these types of townhouses are referred to as condominium townhouses, except in British Columbia where the term “strata” is more commonly used. While it can be a bit confusing, there are a few key differences between freehold properties and these types of townhouses.

Condominium or strata townhouses typically give you ownership rights to anything inside the unit structure, leaving exterior ownership and maintenance to the condominium / strata company. . This means more costs to homeowners each year, but also less maintenance work to be done on your property. If you’re moving out of a single-family home where maintenance has been overwhelming, a condominium townhouse might just be the perfect fit.

Unlike freehold properties, these types of townhouses can also be equipped with amenities. Some have gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, and even spas in their common areas. You’ll pay for the upkeep, of course, which is something to consider when appraising properties.

Affordability

Yes, you can find very affordable single-family homes and expensive apartments, but in general, townhouses fall somewhere between single-family homes and condos in terms of average price. In general, townhouses offer more space than most apartments while not being priced as high as a detached house, making them a great compromise for potential buyers. In many cases, since they typically take up less square footage than a detached home, townhouses can also be found in areas other than the suburbs, with developments taking shape in downtown areas across Canada. .

If you are looking for a mix of space, location and affordability, a townhouse is a great option to consider.

Advantages

As well as being an affordable alternative to a single-family home, townhouses offer many advantages to consider when looking for your next home.

One of the major benefits that townhouse owners often point out is the low-maintenance lifestyle of owning a condominium townhouse. If you are moving out of a detached house, reduced maintenance work is desirable. You will quickly notice that some of the joys of home ownership, like cleaning your gutters and pressure washing your driveway, were not joys at all.

Another major benefit of buying a condominium townhouse is the shared amenities. Always think about what equipment you will be using regularly and what you will not be using, as you will be paying for their maintenance anyway. If your townhouse includes access to a shared gym that you’ll use every day, it’s worth considering when considering your budget. The convenience of being within walking distance of some of your most desirable amenities is an incredible bonus that you won’t often find in many single-family homes.

The inconvenients

The two biggest expenses to watch out for when owning a townhouse are fees and special assessments, as they can add up quickly. Condo or Strata fees are monthly fees that you will need to pay to take care of upkeep, amenities, and general upkeep. Keep in mind that you are getting something for these fees. While you may see the extra costs as a minus point, it shouldn’t be seen that way, especially if you like the lack of maintenance and use the amenities on a regular basis.

Special contributions can also hurt your portfolio, and they can come quite suddenly. Make sure any condo or strata you buy in has a healthy contingency reserve and read strata documents to see if any major repairs have been done recently.

Finally, shared walls and tighter exterior boundaries with your neighbors are to be expected when opting for a townhouse over a detached home, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor for you. If you leave a traditional condo, you will be delighted not to have any footsteps above you, which can be a real nuisance in a wood frame building. End units will only share one wall with a neighbor and are often very desirable in townhouse communities.

Market forecast

Royal LePage recently released its market forecast for 2021, and they included projections for condominiums and standard two-story homes, as well as an overall forecast estimate for major Canadian cities. While some townhouses would fall into the condominium category and some fall into the two-story category, the overall forecast would likely be a more accurate estimate of the townhouse market, which is experiencing a constant influx of buyers who are evolve in Canadian cities. The overall percentage increase in the housing market forecast this year by Royal LePage is as follows:

  • Greater Vancouver: 9.0%
  • Greater Toronto Area: 5.75%
  • Calgary: 0.75%
  • Edmonton: 1.5%
  • Winnipeg: 4.75%
  • Regina: 2.75%

Overall, townhomes in 2021 are expected to attract many buyers and help push some of Canada’s hottest real estate markets even higher. The lifestyle, space, and low maintenance requirements make townhouses a great choice for new families and couples looking to downsize.

To see what is available in your market, search for townhouses on REW today.

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