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What's the Difference Between a Condo and a Townhouse?

December 19 2018
December 19 2018

People often use the terms condo and townhouse interchangeably. Just like yams and sweet potatoes, they are similar in some ways but distinctly different. At BarbCo, we want you to make an informed decision about your next home that you will feel good about for many years to come. Understanding the difference between different types of homes will help you determine which one best suits your needs and wants.

Many buyers typically begin their home search by using criteria like location and total price. This returns a long list of results that vary a great deal in the price per square foot. Deciding whether a single-family detached home, condominium or townhouse is right for you depends on your lifestyle, long-term ownership goals, and how much privacy you want when home. Both condos and townhomes are attached in some way to other units and have at least one shared wall with your neighbors.

Each type of home has its own unique advantages. Condos and townhomes are a popular choice for people with busy lifestyles who don't want to be concerned with a lot of maintenance and upkeep. They each provide you with many of the benefits of homeownership. You have a place of your own and don't have to worry about rising rent prices.

What's a condominium?

A condominium (condo) is more than just an apartment that you own. A condo is a private living unit inside a building or community of buildings. Condo owners own that interior space and share rights to common areas inside and outside the building with other condo owners who are part of the same condominium association. Since condo owners only own the interior space of their living unit, they can only make changes to the interior.

The advantage is they can enjoy the amenities of the building such as the pool or other recreational areas without having to do the maintenance themselves. Upkeep of the building and common areas that may be available outside are covered by the condominium board dues. What building repairs are covered such as plumbing problems or electrical issues can vary. Be sure you fully understand what maintenance and repair issues are covered or not covered by the condo board before you make an offer to purchase.

What is a townhouse?

If you are thinking the term townhouse originally described a home wealthy people (who also had a country house) kept in town, you are correct. The term originated in England and is now used in many countries to describe a wide array of residences.

In the United States, a townhouse is a single-family dwelling of at least two stories that shares at least one wall with another townhouse. A townhome may include a small yard. Many come with attached garages.

Upkeep of the property is primarily the responsibility of the homeowner. A home owner's association (HOA) may cover some types of exterior maintenance and care for common areas. As with condo associations, the specifics of what the HOA fee covers will vary by community. Fees for townhome owners are usually lower than those for condo owners because they take on more responsibility for the upkeep of the structure.

Home insurance rates are different for condos than townhomes. While condo owners may have other units on each side of theirs as well as above and below, townhome owners may have people on each side but not above or below them. Minimal maintenance makes both condos and townhomes popular options for many homebuyers.

The BarbCo Group is here to answer any questions you may have and provide guidance through each step of the home buying process. Contact us today to discuss your goals and objectives in more detail.


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