Condos vs. Townhouses; Which should I Invest in?
Sunday Aug 18th, 2019
If you’re stuck between renting or buying a condominium or townhouse, there are some important differences between the two that you should know about before pulling the trigger. To help you reach a final decision, we have delineated what sets them apart.
With a condominium, you only own your individual unit, with joint ownership of the common areas such as the tennis courts, walkways, airspace, and swimming pools, and the building structure itself with other owner-tenants. On the other hand, a Townhouse ownership is synonymous with a detached single-family home. In addition to the structure, you also own the land it sits on, apart from sharing a few walls with the neighboring establishments.
Normally, most townhouses comprise of two floors. The ground floor houses the dining area, kitchen, and the living room, while the top story accommodates sleeping areas and bedrooms. Most townhouses are characterized by a backyard or a front yard, where owners can maintain a small garden.
The difference between “townhouses” and “condos” lies more in terms of ownership than terms of architecture. Your property structure could resemble a townhouse, but your ownership rights could label it as a condo. If a townhome-style property is your style, be sure to confirm if you would be owning your front and/or backyard.
Any condo vs. townhouse comparison is not complete without factoring in the role of the homeowners’ association (HOA). An HOA is what separates them from single family homes. Living in a townhouse or a condo entails you to pay monthly fees into an HOA. The HOA is usually run by other residents of the structure and helps you cope with day-to-day maintenance of the shared spaces. The role of an HOA in a condominium is to manage the building, interior common spaces, and its grounds. While we talk about town houses, the HOA manages common areas such as the exteriors and roofs of the individual structures and the general grounds shared by all the residents.
The HOA fee for condos falls on the higher end of the spectrum as compared to that for a townhouse, since condo residents have to pay more for the maintenance of communally owned properties, and the upkeep of exterior facilities, including trash removal, snow plowing, flower garden maintenance, grass lawn maintenance, and pest control. A condo HOA may also cover security including special key fob access to parts of the building, parking garage attendants, front desk attendants, and video surveillance. Townhouse owners on the other hand, only have to pay a small fee for trash removal and general upkeep.
When compared with single-family homes, owning a townhouse or a condo is indeed easier on the pockets, even when you factor in the monthly HOA fees. Especially when we talk about first-time buyers who are running on shoe-string budgets, it never pays off to chew more than you can swallow. When we pit condos against townhouses in terms of purchase costs, condos fall on the lower end of the price spectrum since you are not investing in any land. But on the other hand, the condo HOA fee is higher than townhouses, which adds to the overall price. Other overheads factor into the equation as well, such as home inspection costs, home insurance, and Property taxes, depending on the property type you’re purchasing and its location. These costs should be included in your budget, in addition to the mortgage interest rates, which is lower for townhouses than condos. Add up all these costs for both the property types to see which fits within your budget.
Let’s move on the HOA lifestyle and the perks of a tight-knit community. Condo and townhouse communities are usually personal with neighbors as compared to single family homes, but condos entail more chances of socializing. Need a cup of sugar, perhaps? Why not ask Mrs. Jones next door. Want to meet your reading party in the lounge for a cup of joe? It’s all at the tips of your fingers. When you live in a condo, running into your neighbors becomes inevitable. Since you use the same mail room, swimming pool, parking area, trash depository, gyms, entrances and exits, the tennis courts… and so forth. Some Condo HOA’s even organize special events to incite community spirit in residents and bring them together. Not to mention the benefits of shared costs for things like building and lawn maintenance or having a board to tackle neighborly disputes before they escalate.
Want to have the privacy of living in your own home? Want to park your car and enter your home in peace without having to bump into and listen to Mrs. Green rant about how her dog is not behaving well these days? If you are not much of a people person all the time, hometowns would suit you better.
According to a spokesperson at the Toronto Condo Team, “if you are ready to move on to more spacious quarters but yet can’t take up the responsibility of a large property, a townhouse is the middle step. They afford greater privacy than condos, without you having to bear the responsibility of a single-family, detached home.”
No investment is without risk. Be it a single-family home, a townhouse, or a condo, the resale value of your home depends on a plethora of factors. However, when it comes to condos, your HOA is responsible for ensuring that the general landscaping and common areas always look their best, which means you don’t have to ever fret over leaving a great impression on prospects when it comes to your building community or the structure itself. The only thing you are responsible for is the upkeep of your unit. But, imagine how much well-kempt grounds or a stunning pool area will appeal to a potential buyer and make them decide to live the condo life. When it comes to appreciation rates, condos were previously on a slow growth curve, but recently, condo appreciation rates are even surpassing single family homes.