Should You Consider Buying a Condo or Townhouse?

Verani Realty

Row of townhomesIf you have been looking to buy your first home, you may have discovered that inventory is short, demand is high, and competition is fierce for the first-time homebuyer. You may even wonder if buying a condo or townhouse is something you should consider, since it would provide more options to choose from.

Right now, smaller, more affordable homes in a certain price range may be less plentiful than homes in a higher price range. Including a condo or townhouse on your list of prospective properties to buy opens up your possibilities. A condo or townhouse might be the perfect fit for a few reasons, but it pays to know exactly what you are getting for your money.

Is a condo or townhouse a good fit for you?

Typically, a condominium is where several owners share ownership of a building or buildings in a development. Basically, everyone owns their respective units, but they also own an interest in the land that the building(s) is on and the common areas of the complex. Common areas can include pools, recreation areas, game rooms, community rooms, elevators, stairwells, corridors, streets, surrounding land and laundry rooms.

A condo may offer space and some privacy, but keep in mind you will probably have neighbors nearby. So here’s some tips:

  • If you're concerned about noise or unpleasant neighbors, ask around about the general atmosphere of the grounds and if there is noise or other problems that arise from a particular unit or building.

  • When you view the unit for sale, listen for sounds from the other units. If you can hear a toilet flush in the condo above you, realize you will be hearing these sounds daily if you buy the condo.

Keep in mind that condos have association rules you must follow. The rules can be just basic, like no loud noise after midnight and don’t paint your front door neon orange. They are trying to keep things pretty and comfortable for all residents. Other rules may be more restrictive, like what types of flowers you may plant, if you are even allowed to do any gardening or landscaping, and where you may use your BBQ grill. It’s important to read these restrictions and decide if you are comfortable following the rules.

Also, you must factor in the “condo fee” or “association fee”, which is paid each month by all the unit owners. This fee usually covers the cost of exterior maintenance, such as repairs, painting, lawn care and snow removal. Typically, the association sets aside a portion of fees collected as a contingency fund to cover any special costs incurred as part of building upkeep, such as a new roof or repairs to heating or plumbing equipment.

What’s your style?

There are different types of condos, and one may be more appealing than others to your sense of style. For example:

  • A “garden style” condo is two to four units in separate buildings.

  • A "townhouse condominium” is a condominium unit on multi-levels. This is not to be confused with an actual townhouse.

  • A townhouse is one of a row of attached dwellings that share common walls. Each owner owns the land beneath their townhouse, and there may or may not be common areas set up by the developer. There are lot lines that separate the ground under the buildings even though the buildings are attached. Often, more maintenance is required because you own the exterior of your townhouse. You may have more privacy and more of a feel of a “separate” home, since there are no neighbors living above you, but you may also have regulations that dictate what you can do to the exterior.  For example, there may be rules that dictate which paint colors are allowed and if you can add a large deck to your back door.

  • A duplex is a single house with two units that share one common wall. It can be owner-occupied with two separate owners in the two units, have an owner in one unit and one unit rented to tenants, or both units can be rented. Typically you own your half, including the land on your side, and are responsible for your half in terms of maintenance.  The two owners may share a driveway and therefore might share some of the costs of maintaining the property.

It’s important to consider all your homeownership options in this competitive market. Ask questions and weigh in all the factors before you limit what you’re willing to go and see with your real estate agent.

Looking for an experienced agent to guide you through buying your first home? Search our website for agents near you.

Previous PostNext Post