More often than not, people confuse condominiums with townhomes. In reality, the two are different in several ways, including their physical appearance, maintenance costs, and even their location. Knowing those differences can help you make an informed decision on which is best for you. Let’s look at some of the common differences between condos and townhomes.
A condo is a private residence that is part of a building or community with multiple units. Each unit is individually owned. Condos can come in a variety of sizes and styles and are typically smaller than townhomes. Condos usually share walls with the units adjacent to them. They also have shared common spaces that a homeowners association (HOA) or condo association maintains for a required fee.
Townhomes, on the other hand, are single-family residences that come in a row and typically include at least two floors with one or more walls shared with other units. The townhome experience can be compared to living in a detached single-family home. Their living quarters such as the kitchen and dining room are commonly found on the bottom floor while private spaces like the bedrooms are on the top floors.
Condo units can be located on any floor level in the condo building, so make sure you’re fine with how many stories up a unit may be, particularly in high rises. Most townhomes start on the ground floor and often have two or more stories, which can mean a lot of stairs to climb. So you need to be comfortable with handling that every day.
Condos and townhomes both make perfect alternatives for owning in an urban area where traditional single-family homes are too pricey or even unavailable.
A condo owner only owns the interiors of the unit they live in; the HOA, of which all condo owners in the building or community are members, owns the building and all of the exterior parts. With a townhome, the owner possesses both the interior and exterior of the unit, including the yard, patio or deck. Condos and townhomes can either be rented or purchased.
Privacy and Freedom
When you live in a condo, you are part of a community, so it is important not to inconvenience your fellow condo owners. To make this possible, you are expected to abide by rules that are set by the HOA. Each HOA has rules, known as covenants, conditions & restrictions (CC&Rs), that are meant to protect all condo owners, and is governed by a board of condo owners whose interest is to make life in the building or community run as smoothly as possible. The conditions set on condos and the fact that the HOA provides maintenance services may limit your privacy and freedom. The rules can specify:
- Which kind of pets are allowed, the breeds, how they can live in the unit and their weight limit
- How, where and when to place trash and recyclables
- Which exterior paint colors can be used, which mailbox styles can be used and where they can be located, and whether any exterior landscaping is allowed
- Whether holiday lights and other decorations can be featured on the premises
In contrast, townhome owners are responsible for their own residences and the land around them. Therefore, they have the freedom to do whatever they like to their home’s interior and exterior.
Homeowners Association Fees
Even though condos and townhouses come with HOA fees, those for condos are typically higher than townhome fees due to extra facilities like gyms and rooftop barbecues that require money for proper maintenance. Also, condo fees may cover expenses such as insurance, water, and Wi-Fi. For townhomes, the HOA fees may cover only a few services like lawn maintenance and water bills.
In the United States and most parts in Canada, condos are managed under specific laws set by both the federal and local government. Townhomes, however, are governed in the states by rules that also apply to single-family or detached houses.
Because a condo owner only possesses the interior of their unit, condo buildings have many common areas, unlike townhomes. The communally owned areas include pools, playgrounds and gyms. Townhomes do not have a lot of shared space and the townhome owner owns the exterior.
Condos have a slower appreciation rate compared to townhomes, as condos are more preferred by developers. If you plan to resell your property, you are likely to make more money selling a townhome. Many people prefer townhomes because of the greater privacy they have. They also come with some land that owners can landscape or use as they like.
Home Insurance Rates
Condos tend to have lower insurance rates because the owner is required only to insure the interior. Townhomes may have higher insurance rates because the owner must cover both the interior and exterior.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a home, a condor or a townhouse could be your best fit. Access to amenities, proximity to neighbors, and general lifestyle expectations can differ greatly between the two. Have you decided one is a better option than the other? No matter what you choose, head to NewHomeSource for local and nationwide listings of all new homes for sale.