Shopping for your first home is exciting. More space! No more rent! Many eager homebuyers have found that the perfect starter home is a new townhome.
Townhomes are enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to a combination of increasing land prices, decreasing availability of buildable land in urban areas, and increased demand for affordable housing in or near city centers. This makes it easier than ever for first time homebuyers to consider a townhome as a starter home.
Defining the “Starter Home”
Starter homes are just what they sound like – a person’s first home, bought with the intention to buy a different home at some point in the future.
“A starter home is viewed as one that you will be transitioning into from a rental property,”Greg Vladi, Agent at Triplemint Real Estate in New York City, says. “Generally, this closely relates to something that the client was renting prior.”
Starter homes ease former renters into homeownership by introducing them to the realities of homeownership, often at a lower cost than buying a larger, more expensive home. Owners typically plan to stay in the house for 5 years or less or until a major life event like a marriage, baby, or even a new pet requires them to look for something better suited for their situation.
Townhomes are Terrific Starter Homes
If starter homes as a low cost, low responsibility entry point into homeownership than larger single-family homes, townhomes fit the bill.
New townhomes are popular starter homes thanks to their spacious open designs, generous square footage, modern appliances, and energy-efficient buildings.
There aren’t many differences between single-family homes and townhomes. While a single-family home is a standalone structure, surrounded by a private yard, townhomes typically share one or two walls with neighbors. They have private entrances, unlike apartments or condos, and may have a small front and back yard, private driveway, and garage. You can easily find spacious townhomes that range from single-level living to multiple stories. Think of them as condensed single-family homes.
Townhomes are Popular Because:
- They usually require less maintenance, particularly yard work.
- They are often located in high-demand urban locations, making commuting easier and offering all the benefits of urban living, without renting.
- They are less expensive than single-family homes, particularly in prime urban areas.
- Unlike condos, you own the entire unit, not just the space inside the four walls.
The design of townhomes varies by city and region. The iconic row-houses (another term used to describe townhomes) in San Francisco, New York, or Chicago are an example of the historic townhome but you can also find single-level townhomes that are more spread out than vertical and share just one wall with neighbors or even quad-units where four separate homes share a space.
One caveat to be aware of: some townhomes are subject to Homeowners Associations (HOA) rules and regulations. Although, to be fair, there are single-family home developments that have HOAs too. When an HOA is involved, there may be restrictions on what you can do to the exterior of the home or how it can be used. You may not be able to rent it out, for example. In some cases, HOAs manage community needs like snow removal or trash pickup in exchange for monthly dues paid by all residents in the community. Not all townhomes have HOAs though, so be sure to ask the builder about that when you’re looking at developments. If there is an HOA, ask to see the rules, restrictions, or bylaws before buying the unit so you can determine if they will affect your enjoyment of the home.
“I always want to get the covenants, conditions and restrictions to the buyer,” said Lori Doerfler, the 2018 President of the Arizona Association of Realtors. “They describe the requirements and limitations of what you can do with your home as well as the grounds.”
Is a Townhome the Right Starter Home For You?
If budget constraints or location concerns have you waiting to buy your first home, it’s time to give townhomes a look. Singles, first-time buyers, and young couples find plenty to love about townhomes.
In general, townhomes make the best starter homes for buyers who want the autonomy of owning their own home and land but don’t want the responsibility of a larger lot or exterior demands of a single-family home. They are also a great option for people who prefer the more convenient lifestyle of a townhome in a more walkable, urban location, a smaller footprint, or a more modern home for less cost.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.