Home ownership is a goal of the past.
Condos and townhouses are the hottest housing options in urban areas where individual home ownership might not be practical. Owning an entire house isn’t for everyone.
Condos and townhouses offer an experience similar to home ownership without some of the drawbacks.
If you are looking to buy a property but aren’t sure which type of home is right for you, keep reading for our comparison of condo vs house vs townhouse.
First, let talk about detached houses, or just houses. While home ownership is something to take pride in, it’s not right for every individual.
Every homeowner has their own unique situation and set of goals and limitations. When you purchase a house, you own the lot that it sits on. This can be a pro or a con, depending on your priorities.
If you are looking for a large yard or outdoor space for your family, a house might be right for you. Houses often come with garages that can be used as workshops to pursue your hobbies.
Houses range in size and you can purchase one based on the amount of space you need. On the other hand, having more space means more to maintain.
Owning a house means being responsible for exterior and lawn maintenance. For some, gardening and landscaping is a welcome hobby. For others, it ranges from a minor inconvenience to an impossible task.
If your house is located in a neighborhood, you will likely owe homeowners association dues. These fees aren’t usually too high, but the services they cover are limited.
Standard HOA fees cover only snow removal, trash collection, and road maintenance.
Location, Location, Location
Many houses are located in rural areas away from cities and suburbs.
The biggest benefit of owning your own house is the privacy that comes with it. Owning your own land and detached structure gives you the ultimate freedom to do as you please.
If you live in a rural area you won’t be restricted by any rules or regulations imposed by your neighborhood association.
The downside to owning a house located outside of a community is the lack of access to communal amenities. Not having an HOA means you will be responsible for things like removing your trash.
Houses located in neighborhoods often provide access to community amenities like swimming pools, fitness facilities, and sports courts.
Condominiums, which we will refer to simply as condos from here on out, are specific units within a larger property.
Condos are very much like apartments that are contained within a complex. The difference between an apartment and a condo is that condos are owned by the resident.
The other areas of the complex are communally owned by all of its residents. This is different than an apartment complex where residents are tenants in units owned and maintained by the landlord.
With condos, the resident is the homeowner and is responsible for their own condo. Condos allow homeowners to purchase real estate at a more reasonable price than what they would end up paying for a house.
Townhouses are often also referred to as townhomes.
Townhouses offer more space than condos because they are individual homes rather than a collection of units. Townhouses are placed side by side and adjacent homes share one or two walls.
This tends to offer more privacy than a condo, but not as much privacy as a house.
Condos vs Townhouses
Most people understand the pros and cons of owning a house. Fewer people understand the finer differences between owning a condo and a townhouse.
As we have covered the basics of owning a house, we are now going to focus on comparing condos and townhouses.
Who Owns the Land?
If you own a condo, you only own the space inside your unit.
The homeowners communally own the exteriors and common areas. Maintenance of these areas is financed by homeowners association dues.
When you own a townhouse, you also own the land the home is built on. Not much, if anything, is jointly owned when it comes to townhouses.
This matters when you are deciding how much space you need and what maintenance duties you are willing to take on. You will owe property taxes whether you own a condo or a townhouse.
The Structure Itself
Condos are physically structured very much like apartment complexes. The difference is that rather than being owned by a landlord or property management company, the homeowner owns the unit itself and has a shared interest in the communal areas.
Residents of condos jointly own the spaces outside of their unit. This includes areas like halls and garages, swimming pools, and the roof of the building itself.
Townhouses are constructed like houses rather than apartment complexes.
The difference is that they are built as a row of houses and are connected by shared walls. Townhouses are narrow in construction and often two or three-story buildings.
Townhouses usually provide a small front yard and backyard and the owner of the townhouse maintains this property. Townhouses often resemble duplexes and triplexes.
Homeowner’s Associations (HOA)
Homeowner associations, common in neighborhoods and suburbs as well, are often actually referred to as condo associations.
The HOA is the body that oversees and maintains the communally owned amenities in the condo complex. HOAs are corporate bodies and are managed by an executed board that is elected by the community’s residents.
This board makes managerial and executive decisions on behalf of the residents to keep the communally owned property in excellent condition. HOAs are funded by fees, collected either monthly or annually, from the condo owners.
Community meetings are held and attended by condo owners to help make decisions about the complex.
The size and power of an HOA varies by the complex.
Some HOAs collect few dues and have little authority. On the other hand, some HOAs charge high dues and exercise large amounts of authorities through many rules and regulations.
If you purchase property governed by an HOA, you are required to maintain membership with the HOA and pay dues.
Before purchasing a townhouse or condo you should request a copy of the HOA documents to gauge the style of the particular HOA.
Condos have much higher HOA fees than townhouses. This is because condos have shared exterior and communal maintenance that has to be funded.
Condos often come with amenities like pools and clubhouses that require funding. The cost of the HOA dues is the tradeoff for not having to maintain these areas yourself.
Condos HOA fees sometimes include other monthly expenses that you would be responsible for paying on your own if not for the association. These fees include water, cable, some utilities and services, and insurance premiums.
You might pay HOA fees if you own a townhouse, but they will be significantly lower. HOA fees for townhouse owners usually only cover a few services such as waste removal and lawn care, if offered.
One of the biggest benefits of owning a condo over a townhouse or a detached house is the ease of maintenance.
Many condo associations assist with maintenance in the same manner as an apartment complex. Your HOA may fix problems within your unit and of course, they will handle the maintenance of the exterior.
They will hire contractors like gardeners and roofers to maintain the common areas and all of this is paid by your regular HOA dues.
Townhouses require homeowners to do most of the maintenance themselves or to privately hire a contractor themselves. Townhouses might not even have an HOA, as not all of them do.
HOA dues are low but they do not cover grounds upkeep or major maintenance like roof replacements.
Which Is Right for you?
Deciding which type of home for you is a personal decision. There are pros and cons to both condos and townhomes.
Condos might come with more advanced security features but place you in closer proximity to your neighbors.
Townhouses might have more standard home security measures but offer a bit more space.
It really comes down to your needs and preferences. Both condos and townhouses are excellent choices for first time home buyers and those looking to downsize later in life.
Townhouses and condos both offer affordable urban living with less maintenance than a traditional house.
Condo vs House vs Townhouse
We hope that this guide has given you some insight into the comparison of condo vs house vs townhouse.
Purchasing real estate is a big deal and careful consideration should be given to the type of home you buy.
Contact us today to learn more about your options.
Century 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
Mark Li (Broker)
Cell: 416-500-5355 | Office: 905-471-2121