Who wants a townhouse? Everybody wants a townhouse! Boomers, Millennials, singles, divorcees, newlyweds, young families, first-time buyers, empty nesters – townhouses are soaring in popularity among all age groups. What is driving this trend?
The Difference Between Townhouses, Detached Homes, and Condos
First things first. What exactly is a townhouse? Most people are aware of the difference between a townhouse and a detached home; townhouses share at least one wall with a neighboring property whereas detached homes do not share any walls. Townhouses are usually built in a row or as dual- or quad-units and have little to no land beyond what the home sits on, while single family homes have varying yard and lot sizes.
What is more confusing is the difference between a townhouse and condo. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Both share at least one wall with a neighbor, but condos may be surrounded by neighbors on all sides – walls, floor and ceiling – similar to an apartment building. Townhomes only share one wall.
Townhomes and detached homes are the most similar of the three because homeownership includes the entire building – interior and exterior – plus the land it sits on. Condo owners don’t generally own the exterior of their unit and don’t have any land to speak of.
Four Factors that Drive Townhome Popularity
Many of the defining characteristics of townhomes appeal to all types of buyers:
When compared to an equivalent single-family home, townhomes are usually less expensive. One reason for this is townhouses usually have less square footage than detached single-family homes, which helps control costs. But even if the square footage and amenities of the townhome is comparable to a detached home, townhouses still cost less because they don’t come with as much, if any, land or yard. Long-term maintenance costs are typically lower, too, as well as utilities, depending on the size of the townhouse. Those with shared walls, for example, often have added insulation benefits and don’t require as much energy to heat or cool as standalone structures.
Many people find townhouses to be easier to own than single-family homes. Since there’s no yard, there is practically zero outside maintenance required of the homeowner. In many townhome communities, a homeowner’s association manages the external maintenance including landscaping, lawn care, snow removal, and sometimes even roof and siding maintenance. Without home maintenance demands, homeowners are better able to enjoy the amenities the community may have to offer, like the pool and fitness center or neighborhood events. Some communities have 24/7 security guards, gated entryways, and cameras all around, giving peace of mind to those who travel often or are simply away from home most of the day.
As land prices went up, so did building permits for townhomes. Builders can fit more units on a plot of land when they build townhouses than when they build detached single-family homes. This has led to an increase in the number of townhomes that are available, thereby fueling townhome purchases. Sometimes, townhome communities are marketed toward distinct demographics such as retirees, the active adult crowd, or young urban professionals, which also fuels demand for townhomes. An increased number of townhomes being built means there’s simply more townhomes available than ever before. This naturally drives up interest and demand.
It’s not unusual for first-time buyers to be locked out of the housing market due to lack of availability. Likewise, those who want to downsize or upgrade from a condo or apartment to a townhouse are benefitting from this supply increase as are buyers that prefer living closer to the city center. Divorcees often opt for townhomes as they adjust to their newly single status and change in income.
Location has always been one of the top deciding factors for homebuyers. Today it remains so, but what buyers want from their home’s location is changing. A desire to live near work and amenities is increasing among all demographics. That means townhome developments in urban areas are booming.
Dan Cosgrove, a sales and leasing agent with Revolution Realty in Boston, Massachusetts, explained that nearly two-thirds of homebuyers select homes based on their commute to work. “They are willing to sacrifice that extra room in order to live closer to the city so they can still be a part of the social action and reduce their dreaded commute to work.”
While the work commute is important, access to arts and culture, healthcare, social services, and public transit are equally important drivers in townhome popularity. As more townhome locations become available in areas with easy access to these amenities and attractions, more people are attracted to townhome life.
What Do You Love About Townhomes?
There’s no question that townhome love is here to stay. These versatile dwellings simply offer too many benefits to too many demographics for us to envision a drop-off in townhouse demand. That begs the question, “What do you love about townhomes?” Are you drawn to the compact footprint, the low-maintenance exterior, the urban location, or some other factor? We’d love to hear why you are set on purchasing a townhouse in the comments below!
Learn more about townhouses and new home buying options at NewHomeSource!
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.