Considering investing in a condo or townhouse, but not sure which one is the best fit for you? Condos and townhouses are attractive to many buyers, but the differences aren't obvious. Here are the key differences you'll want to know to make your decision.
Condos and townhouses are perfect for empty nesters that want to downsize their home, young professionals that are seeking their first home, or anyone who want's more than an apartment without necessarily having all the responsibilities of home-owning. So, what are the major differences between these two?
The words condo and townhouse refer specifically to ownership, however, the home-styles are different from one another, and differ in layout. Condos are almost like apartments, and are sometimes in a communal building with several units. (Tip: If you have kids, or issues with stairs, keep in mind that buildings with over 5 floors are required to have elevators!)
Townhouses are more comparable to a single-family home, and they usually share at least one wall with a neighboring unit. They almost always have attached garages or parking space. (Tip: due to location, townhouses usually carry more bang for your buck when it comes to living space.)
The main difference in ownership is the space a buyer owns. With a townhome they usually own the exterior and interior. With condos, buyers usually only own the interior.
When it comes to buying a condo, a homeowner's association owns the entire complex, including common areas and amenities, and the buyer owns the interior of the property.
With townhouses, buyers own the interiors and the exteriors of the property, and also share ownership over common areas of the complex.
We see more condos getting used as rentals than townhomes, likely because a condo requires much less work from whoever is renting it to their renter, since the HOA takes care of mostly everything-- like your own management company, but not exactly.
Both condos and townhouses have associated fees to maintain the property. Condos have a great advantage; owners aren't responsible for the upkeep of lawns, pools, etc.. The downside is that all those costs are covered by the monthly payments to the HOA. Plus, condo fees are slightly higher than townhouse fees due to the larger common spaces or number of shared amenities.
On the other hand, townhouses have fewer amenities to maintain yet they are economically and physically responsible for the upkeep of the outdoors. Due to this, insurance rates are often higher.
The fun part about living in a condo is the common amenities that buyers get to use within the building, such as pools, gyms, clubhouses, media rooms, golf courses, tennis courts... the sky is no limit. Another advantage, especially in Massachusetts, is that you don't have to worry about shoveling snow, or mowing the lawn since your not the land's owner.
Townhouses usually have fewer amenities, and, again, closer resemble single family homes.
Since the exterior of a condo is own by a homeowner's association, personalization is harder for residents, and decks/front doors look the same. Interiors are open for customization though. Townhouses allow owners to have more freedom and decorate exteriors as well. However, if your neighbors live unfulfilling lives they might start a rivalry if you start doing cool stuff to your house, like The Aviator's astronomy tower. If the whole neighborhood is owned by the same company, as is often the case, and people start complaining, you might have to either undo your upgrades, or do some unwholesome stuff to some snitches, and we don't want to spend our energy like that.
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