Condominium or Townhouse? Pros and Cons

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Condominium or Townhouse? Pros and Cons

Staff Writer · Sep 1, 2010

Although it is not illegal for real estate firms to market a piece of property as a condominium townhouse, this type of dwelling does not exist. If you are a first time home-buyer, it is important to know the difference between the two. This will make it easier to decide which type of home is right for you.

Difference Between a Condominium and Townhouse

A condominium is an apartment individually owned in a building or on land that is owned in common by the owners of the units. A condominium, also called “condo” is actually an alternative form of home ownership created in response to the needs of people that cannot afford to own a traditional single family home or those that simply prefer not to own a home. Condominium owners do not own the land on which the dwelling is built. The extent of ownership is confined to the inside of the unit.

A townhouse or “townhome” is a single-family dwelling that shares a common wall. Unlike condominium owners that must share a roof, entrances and exits, hallways, and stairways, townhouse owners have their own individual roofs and they do not anything outside of a common wall. Townhouses have their own back and front yards, garage and front porch. Townhouse owners also own the land underneath the home.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Condominium

A condominium building can be as simple as a vintage six-unit walkup or as elaborate as a 55-story hi-rise with an endless amount of amenities. The benefits of owning a condominium in a hi-rise include amenities, security, onsite maintenance staff, and convenience.

Most hi-rise condos have amenities, such as a:

*doorman
*fitness center
*laundry
*receiving center for packages

Some even have a dry cleaners on site, post office, and convenience store. Hi-rise condos have parking (available for purchase), views of the city, and some even have a management company on or off-site.

Walk-up condos have fewer amenities than hi-rises. They typically do not have a doorman, fitness center nor receiving center. And rarely will they have on-site maintenance. The condo association, which is made up of volunteers from the building, must hire a maintenance worker or maintenance firm on their own. Walk-up condos may have a convenience store or dry cleaners attached to the building as well as an off-site management company.

Although hi-rise condos may have a number of amenities, these extras are not free. All condo owners must pay a monthly assessment for amenities, use and upkeep of common areas, utilities and maintenance staff. Condo owners living in walk-up buildings must also pay a monthly assessment. In come cases, assessments may total just as much as the mortgage payment.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Townhouse

One of the major attractions of owning a townhouse is, you own the entire structure, not just the interior. Another benefit is privacy. Townhouses typically have their own private backyard, garage and laundry, and they do not have residents living above or below them.

Townhouses offer the freedom to make as many improvements to interior of the home as you wish. In addition, townhouse owners are responsible for paying their own utilities. This means you never have to question the amount you are expected to pay as you will only pay for your own usage.

While there are many pros to owning a townhouse, there are several cons. One of the biggest drawbacks is maintenance and exterior surfaces. Although you own the entire structure, the homeowners association may have rules against altering the exterior of the home if your plans threaten the uniform appearance of the community. Homeowners associations also collect a fee for general maintenance and repairs to the overall landscaping of the community and for any amenities that the community offers. In addition, if the roof of the townhouse is damaged, it is the owners responsibility to fix it. Roof repair is currently one of the most expensive repairs for homes, townhouses and commercial buildings.

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