A townhome is a type of property that’s comprised of conjoined units owned by individual tenants. If you’re currently searching for a new place to live, there are numerous possibilities, which include everything from a single-family home to a large estate home.
Among the more unique types of properties you can purchase is a townhome, which is a term that was initially coined in England when affluent residents would have a primary residence in the country and a second home in town. Since then, the word has changed somewhat to now describe primary residences that can be situated in any location.
In the U.S., townhomes are known as single-family homes that consist of two or more floors along with a shared wall that’s attached to another home. As opposed to duplexes, townhomes are individually owned. While townhomes are similar to row houses, the main difference between these properties is that row houses are lined in a single row. On the other hand, townhomes can come in several different configurations.
While townhomes are exceedingly popular because of their affordability and increased security, there are also a few downsides to owning a townhome that you should be aware of before making this type of purchase. Before you finalize your search for a new home, you should know what a townhome is and how you can benefit from having one. This guide takes you through every aspect of townhomes and how they compare to condos.
Townhome vs. Condo
If you’ve never purchased a townhome before, you may find it difficult to immediately spot the differences between townhomes and condos. Even though these two types of properties have similarities, there are also some key differences that you should be aware of. Townhomes represent a single style that a home can have, which means that a townhome can technically be considered a condominium if it’s situated in a condominium community. Townhomes can also be viewed as planned-unit developments or single-family properties.
A condominium is available in numerous styles as well. For instance, a condo can be a sizable high-rise building that has different units on every floor. It could also be a garden complex that consists of many one-story units. Even though condos are always individually owned, these properties can be rented out to tenants.
A townhome is similar to a condo in that it’s an attached property that’s owned by the resident as opposed to a landlord. At least one wall will be shared with another townhome. The main difference between condos and townhomes is that townhomes tend to provide somewhat more privacy in comparison to condos. You can find both of these property types in suburbs, rural areas, and urban areas.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Townhome
When you’re thinking of buying a townhome, keep in mind that there are many advantages and disadvantages that come with this type of property. It may be easier for you to determine which type of home is right for you if you first identify the aspects of owning a home that you prioritize. For instance, if privacy is a top concern of yours, a detached single-family home may be preferable.
Pros of Owning a Townhome
There are many positive aspects of owning a townhome. First of all, you may enjoy having an HOA lifestyle and living in a close and tight-knit community. It’s common for residents in townhome communities to have good relationships with neighbors. You’ll invariably have more opportunities for socializing when living in this type of community, which may be exactly what you want when owning a home.
It’s also common for townhome developments to place a focus on security with the amenities they provide. Being in close proximity to neighbors also allows for a certain amount of added security if you feel as though you can rely on these individuals. Some of the top benefits that come with living in a townhome include shared lawn maintenance costs and similar perks.
If you’ve been searching for a more affordable home, the market conditions may make this a difficult proposition. However, townhomes and condos are usually considerably more affordable when compared to single-family homes. While you will need to take HOA payments and insurance fees into account, your monthly payments should still be lower than what they would be if you owned a single-family home.
Another key benefit to consider when buying a townhome is its resale value. While there are numerous fees that come with owning a townhome, the fees you pay are essentially investments into the property that will keep your property in great condition. When you live in a well-maintained townhome and community, you’ll have more leverage once you decide to sell your unit, which should also reduce the amount of time that your home remains on the market before being sold.
Cons of Owning a Townhome
Even though owning a townhome can be advantageous, there are also a few issues to consider. While townhomes are typically more affordable compared to single-family homes, it’s essential that you take HOA fees into account. You’ll notice that townhomes don’t come with as many HOA fees as condos. However, your monthly payment can be somewhat higher in comparison to a condo because of the high insurance costs that you may need to pay.
Another issue with owning a townhome is that HOA boards can be frustrating to deal with in certain situations. Even though an HOA board will act on behalf of members, these boards have authority to require repairs and enact high one-time fees to cover the costs of repair projects. Make sure that you factor in these extra costs when creating a budget for your townhome.
You might also find that the community lifestyle isn’t to your liking. Even though single-family homes don’t offer complete privacy from neighbors, they are more private than townhomes and condos. Having one or more shared walls means that you may hear your neighbors from time to time. There’s also a risk that you’ll be stuck with a noisy neighbor. In most cases, townhome owners will be living in proximity to many other people, which means that you may hear music or the sound of a nearby TV when it’s on.
Another tangible risk for you to consider is the property’s resale value. Many of the newer developments are constructed with efficiency in mind, which allows them to be sold at relatively low prices. As your unit gets older, you may find yourself in competition with more affordable townhome developments that are also newer.
Tips for Finding and Getting the Best Deal on Your Townhome
Finding the right townhome will likely take time and patience. As a potential homeowner, there are many factors that you should consider when buying any type of home. The following are some tips and suggestions on how to find your ideal townhome.
Read All HOA Rules
Among the most important things that you should do before buying a townhome is to read all HOA rules. It’s common for homeowner associations to provide new owners with restrictions on the paint colors they can use for exterior doors as well as where you can park your vehicle. Make sure that you read every rule in the HOA handbook before going ahead with this purchase.
Consider the Budget You Have
Before you begin shopping for a townhome, you should first determine how much you can reasonably afford when making this purchase. To do this, it’s highly recommended that you create a budget. This budget must include the property costs as well as any HOA fees that you will be tasked with paying.
The value of a townhome will move with the fluctuations in the broader market. Over the past two years, prices have risen considerably, which you should keep in mind before starting your search. High buyer demand means that there will invariably be a more limited supply of inventory. When this occurs, townhome costs will increase.
Consider Your Long-term Situation
Even though a townhome may fit your current situation, you might not want to live in this type of property as you continue to age. If you’re thinking of expanding your family in the near future, it’s important that you develop a plan for what you will do once this occurs. Despite the benefits that come with owning a townhome, the property you purchase might not have enough space for a growing family.
Listen Carefully When Touring the Townhome
When you take a tour of a townhome that you’re interested in buying, make sure that you listen carefully when you’re around any shared walls. Try to identify how much noise travels from the unit beside the one you’re thinking of buying. Keep in mind that end units tend to have less noise since only one wall is shared.
Inspect Common Areas
If the community that you’re about to move into has a game room, pool, or gym that you’re interested in using, you should take a look at these common areas and amenities before making an offer.
Make List of Essential Community Amenities
While you might already have a good idea of what you want out of a townhome, it’s also recommended that you consider the community features and amenities. You might want 24-hour security, a community pool, and a less-restrictive HOA. If so, list these priorities to help guide your decision-making process.
Choosing to buy any type of home is a major life decision. If you don’t mind having one or more shared walls, townhomes offer many benefits that you can’t find with other properties, the primary of which is affordability. Now that you know what townhomes are and what you can expect when buying one, you may have a better idea of which type of home is right for you.