Should you buy a condo, a townhouse or a house?

Home choices are plentiful, especially in urban settings, leaving many first-time homebuyers wondering what type of home to buy. Each housing style – condominium, townhouse and single-family home – has its advantages and disadvantages. Buyers should consider their lifestyle and budget, as well as their level of involvement in home maintenance when deciding which type of home is best for them.

Key points to remember

  • Townhouses, which are usually attached to other residences, are defined by ownership, which includes the land the house is located on, the front and back areas, and the exterior of the house.
  • Condominiums offer the most convenient approach to home ownership and are physically indistinguishable from rental apartments.
  • Condos are often less expensive than townhouses because they are landless; the exterior and grounds are considered common areas shared by all residents.
  • Condominium owners pay a monthly homeowners association (HOA) fee that can be significantly higher than for townhouses, in part because it covers exterior maintenance.
  • Single-detached homes often offer homeowners the most freedom when it comes to improving structures or the land that accompanies them, but they can lack many of the conveniences of condos and townhouses.

How does joint ownership work?

What is a townhouse?

Less experienced homebuyers may want to know what makes a residence a townhouse. The physical description alone – a narrow, multi-level residence attached to other residences on a street – is not always a clear giveaway as some areas have condominium communities comprising attached two- and three-story residences.

The defining characteristic of a townhouse is ownership. Townhouse owners typically own the land on which the home sits, including any front and back area that goes with the residence, no matter how small. They also own the exterior of their home.

Additionally, townhouse communities typically have Homeowners Associations (HOAs). Landlords pay monthly dues to cover insurance and maintenance of common areas in the community, as well as services such as garbage collection and snow removal. Some HOAs enforce community aesthetic rules, such as what exterior paint colors are allowed and what types of fencing homeowners can install.

Homeowners also remain financially responsible for exterior maintenance and repairs to their townhouses. A townhouse is suitable for people who want to be involved in maintaining their home, but don’t want the responsibility of owning and maintaining a large lot.

What is a condominium?

Condominiums offer the most convenient approach to home ownership. Many of these types of residences are physically indistinguishable from rental apartments, although some developers are building condos that resemble multi-level townhouses. Condos are often less expensive than townhouses, in part because they don’t own land. The exterior of the units, as well as the land surrounding them, is considered a common area and is collectively owned by all condo owners in the community.

The monthly cost and maintenance are the defining characteristics of condos. Like townhouse owners, condo owners pay monthly HOA fees, although their fees can be significantly higher. The HOA condo fee covers the cost of exterior maintenance of the unit; insurance required to cover expensive items such as roofs, elevators and parking structures; as well as services such as garbage cans and snow removal. A condo works well for people interested in owning reasonably priced real estate close to where they work or play.

Condo vs townhouse vs house

Situated on their own land, detached houses generally offer homeowners the most freedom when it comes to improving structures or the land that accompanies them. The square footage of single-family homes ranges from small to mansion-sized, but the defining characteristic of this type of home is the free-standing structure; there are no neighbors to share the walls with.

Like condos and townhouses, some single-detached homes, especially in urban and suburban areas, may have HOAs, but the fees are usually nominal and cover no more than snow removal and shared road maintenance. And many single-family homes don’t have an HOA at all. These offer the most independence and freedom of choice.

Detached homes appeal to people who want large yards for their children to play in and room for other structures, such as a detached garage or workshop. Owning a detached house is also the right solution for people who are not afraid of gardening work or who yearn for a large garden.

On the other hand, unless the single-family home is part of a community, it may lack some of the amenities that come with many condos and townhouses, such as a swimming pool, fitness club, or tennis court. tennis.

Condo vs. Townhouse vs. House: Key Differences
Condominium Townhouse Individual house
Initial cost Often the cheapest housing option Usually cheaper than a single-family home Prices vary widely depending on size and location
Ongoing charges Monthly homeowners association dues Monthly homeowners association dues Generally none
What you own Your individual unit, but not the grounds or other common areas Your home plus the land it sits on and possibly a yard Your home plus the land below and around it
Approvals Condos often have shared amenities like a pool or fitness club May also have shared amenities like a pool or fitness club Amenities depend on what was there when you purchased or have since added
Responsibilities You are not responsible for mowing the lawn or any other maintenance You are not responsible for mowing the lawn or any other maintenance Lawn mowing, snow removal, repairs, etc. are your responsibility
Autonomy A homeowners association may impose rules that you must follow You may also be subject to the rules of a homeowners association Unless there is a homeowners association, you can do whatever you want within the law.

Who should buy what

The decision to buy a townhouse or a condo – or opt for a single-family home – usually comes down to cost, convenience and lifestyle.

Millennial buyers who have little experience as a homeowner and don’t have the time to deal with home maintenance may benefit most from starting out in a condo or townhouse. city, and to move to a detached house only after learning what it takes to maintain a house.

Established buyers who want space for their growing families and those who don’t want to be bound by the rules of an HOA will benefit the most from buying single-detached homes.

And at the other end of the age spectrum, seniors can benefit from the lower costs and reduced responsibilities of living in a townhouse or condo instead of a single-family home. A condo generally requires the least amount of work, leaving owners free to travel and enjoy their leisure time.

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