As old trends continue to make comebacks – in fashion, music, and now real estate – townhouses have also made a comeback. In simple terms, townhouses are linked homes whose owners share one or more walls.
This type of housing was commonly seen in cities in England during the 17th century but went out of fashion with people opting for more modern options. Recently, however, it has made its comeback with a generally increased interest in this housing style.
When picking a home, it is necessary to consider all options to find out which is best for you. There are several benefits of buying a townhome so it comes as no surprise that a lot of people are now looking into this housing style. Before you decide on this housing style, here’s all you need to know.
What Is A Townhouse?
A townhouse is a style of housing characterized by connected housing units. It is a row of single or multi-floored houses that share the walls on one or both sides of the building with the next building.
This housing style is adopted in areas with a shortage of available land and high real estate costs. It is commonly seen in small cities and the suburbs. This style of housing is a cross between a condo and a standalone single-family house.
Townhomes are generally cheaper and smaller than standalone houses because they are designed to maximize the use of the land they are built on by sharing walls with neighboring houses.
The units of this housing system are usually identical and may also have connected yards and other amenities but typically have individual entrances.
Structurally, a typical townhouse is not so different from a duplex, however, some modern ones have up to three floors.
The living room, kitchen, and dining room is usually on the first floor while bedrooms are on the second floor. Depending on the space available, a townhouse may or may not have a basement (read more).
The general structure of townhouses is pretty similar to rowhouses or duplexes. The major difference is that they are attached while duplexes are not.
Some have a basement, and or driveway. However, the basic architecture of townhouses comprises a living room, kitchen, dining area, or room, and 2 or 3 bedrooms depending on the size.
Apart from the shared wall, a townhouse is individually owned. So buying a townhome means you own the interior and exterior of the house. In some cases, the yard or driveway may be connected to the neighboring house but it usually isn’t of much consequence.
2. HOA Basics
Homeowner associations (HOA) are usually formed in communities or neighborhoods of multi-unit buildings. The HOA is created to set and enforce rules pertaining to the buildings under its authority. The residents of the community make up these associations.
In most cases, joining an HOA is necessary in order to purchase a house in a neighborhood where one has already been formed. Most townhome communities have a homeowners association, so it’s a good idea to find out if the house you are looking to buy has one.
A townhome generally has low maintenance since there isn’t much space to maintain it. The maintenance of the exterior and communal or shared parts of the houses is the responsibility of the HOA. They handle things like water, garbage disposal, sewers, etc. However, charges apply.
The HOA fees of townhomes differ depending on the location and services offered. The fees are relatively low because the majority of the maintenance falls on the homeowner. HOA fees typically run between $15 to $50 per month.
A greater monthly fee can imply that more amenities are included. For instance, some communities have communal pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, or other recreational facilities which fall on the HOA to run and maintain.
The insurance of a townhome is similar to that of a condo but runs a bit differently. Unlike condos, the ownership of a townhome is individual.
This means that the homeowner is the sole owner of the entire building, including the walls, roof, and surrounding land (porch, front yard, and any other outdoor space).
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As such, the insurance covers both the interior and exterior of the building and falls on the homeowner.
Since there is no insurance plan specifically designed for townhouses, you would be purchasing a homeowners insurance plan.
You will, therefore, acquire the same kind of insurance as someone who owns a conventional freestanding home.
However, as townhouses are frequently smaller than independent homes, there is a possibility that your prices will be reduced.
Pros And Cons Of A Townhouse
Townhomes are relatively affordable in comparison to other housing options. The cost of a townhome will be less than that of a detached single-family home with the same or similar square footage and located in the same neighborhood.
Additionally, townhouse owners typically pay lower property taxes, insurance, and HOA fees than a detached house. Which makes it a suitable housing option for new house owners or people with a budget.
2. Less maintenance:
Townhouses usually require less work from the homeowner than a standalone or detached house. This is because although the homeowner is responsible for maintaining the interior of the house, the exterior maintenance is mostly covered by the homeowners association (HOA).
A townhouse requires less upkeep because of its smaller size. Compared to a standalone or detached house, housekeeping is less labor intensive as there aren’t as many rooms. You also don’t have to worry about yard work because there is little if anything to mow and depending on the house, the HOA fees may cover that.
Living in a townhouse is typically preferred by those who don’t want to deal with certain issues like pest control, garbage disposal, landscaping, or security gate costs. All you have to do is pay the required HOA fees and the organization handles the majority of maintenance.
Townhomes are generally smaller than detached or standalone houses but they have a decent amount of living space. The houses have individual front and back entrances, giving them the same feel as a single-family home.
Most townhomes have two or more floors so you would be able to split your living and sleeping rooms on various floors which is a plus especially if you have children.
You also have a private outdoor living area in addition to commonly shared outdoor space. Unlike in condos or apartments where you only own the interior parts of the unit, townhome owners also own the land surrounding the building. This includes the yard and driveway (if there is one).
The yard will definitely be smaller than what you would see in a detached single-family house but it gives just enough space to do whatever you would want to do in a yard.
Townhouses constructed as a part of a community may come with amenities such as a pool, gym, tennis court, clubhouse, or other recreational facilities.
5. Freedom and privacy:
Living in a townhome gives several benefits that you just can’t get from a condo or an apartment. For starters, there are not as many rules.
Usually, in a condo or an apartment building, there are several rules. You may have several limitations regarding things like noise levels, parking, pets, smoking, and even the overall design of the unit. However, a townhome gives you these privileges since you own the whole building.
You might still not be able to make major changes to the exterior of your townhome because the units are designed to look identical but you have the freedom to make a substantial change to the interior.
Additionally, you do not have to worry about elevators, running into neighbors, or finding a parking spot. You get to reap all the benefits of a detached house and avoid the troubles of an apartment. It is the best of both.
In comparison to condos, apartments, or detached homes, townhomes are frequently found in scenic areas. That might be really useful if you are looking to buy or sell a house for a variety of reasons.
Everyone interested in real estate is aware that, along with other criteria, the home’s location is one of the most crucial things to take into account before purchasing it.
The location of a house is a determining factor as to whether that house would be bought and at what price. A townhome in a good area can enable you to sell it for a high price. Also, if you own it or are looking to buy, you get all the advantages of living in a good environment.
The bulk of the maintenance and upkeep of a townhome is the responsibility of the homeowner. If you are looking into this housing style, having to hire professional artisans or a handyman for repairs around the house is inevitable.
2. HOA fees and rules:
Depending on your townhouse community or development, the homeowners association (HOA) can either be a pain or a plus.
Typically the HOA fees for townhouse communities are lower than for condos because of the size and shared wall. However, the amenities and services provided can increase the fees by a lot.
Some people don’t mind living under restrictions made by the homeowners association, but it might be a dealbreaker for others.
Usually, the HOA has rules guiding noise levels and the general exterior appearance of your house like the color, or type of windows installed. Before buying a unit, it is a good idea to find out the HOA fees and rules.
3. Less privacy:
While a townhome offers more privacy than an apartment or a condo, the houses are connected so getting involved with your neighbors is inevitable. You may share your yard or driveway with your neighbor and the communal areas are also public.
The noise from your neighbor’s house may travel through the shared wall, just as well, your neighbors might be able to hear what goes on in your house.
This is a major downside but depending it depends on how well the house is built. In some well-insulated buildings, you would not be able to hear much through the walls. So if you are house hunting you might as well listen carefully for noises from other units.
Townhouses are relatively smaller than single-family homes so depending on the size of your family this housing style may not be a good fit. They are mostly multi-floored so it may not be a good option for someone with mobility issues.
What Is The Main Difference Between A Condo, Townhouse, And A House?
Given that some townhouses are offered for sale as condos, the distinction between condos, a house, and townhomes is a little hazy and can be hard to differentiate.
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The major differences between a condo and a townhome include:
1. Type Of Ownership
When you own a condo, you are solely accountable for the upkeep of the interior of your unit. You would be required to pay homeowners’ association (HOA) dues to cover the upkeep of the exterior, amenities, and common areas of the building.
While owning a townhouse means you are also the legal owner of the land surrounding the building. In many circumstances, the home you own will have both a front yard and a modest backyard or other private outside areas.
The homeowners’ organization owns the amenities and communal areas, but the residents use them. The upkeep is also the responsibility of the homeowners.
Condominiums are generally less private than townhouses because of the shared areas. Living in a condo means sharing walls, amenities, and communal areas with your neighbors.
While in a townhouse, you will only have neighbors on either side of you rather than above and below you. You’ll also most likely have a yard separate from the other shared amenities where your children or dogs can play.
3. HOA Fees
Although people living in both condominiums and townhouses pay HOA fees, condo fees are often higher than townhouse fees due to extra amenities such as gyms and pools that require a decent amount of money for proper maintenance.
In addition, condo fees may cover a lot of things like lighting, WiFi, and other utilities while the HOA fees for townhomes would only cover basic services like lawn maintenance and water bills.
Condo rules are generally more limiting than townhome rules because the HOAs play a larger role in condos. The rules could be advantages or disadvantages depending on your preferences as a homeowner.
Some people prefer more freedom of expression in their landscape and property, whereas others prefer a more consistent appearance. Condos usually have rules regarding pets, the general appearance of the building, trash disposal, and the list goes on.
These restrictions can be beneficial since they make things like assigning parking places and keeping up with upkeep more efficient, but they may limit your ability to customize the property to your preferences.
In contrast, townhomes have fewer rules because the buildings are individually owned. They may only have restrictions regarding the exterior appearance of the house.
In conclusion, if you are house hunting, looking into townhouses is not a bad idea. There are several benefits and it might just be the best fit for you. Why not give it a try?