General Question

RedKnight's avatar

House vs Condo vs Townhome?

Asked by RedKnight (493points) August 3rd, 2015

I’m trying to save money and buy a house or a townhouse or a condo. I am wondering what is the best option? I know that a good option is to rent, but I feel that for me buying property may be a better deal in the long run. Right now, I am gravitating the most towards town homes. I really like having a garage and they seem to be larger than condos. On the flip side, they are still provide a close enough community and minimal yard work if any.

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12 Answers

janbb's avatar

There’s no one right answer; it’s a matter of personal needs and preferences. I have a house and used to own a townhouse in Florida. Each had their advantages. If you don’t want to worry about exterior maintenance or yardwork, go for a townhouse or condominium. It sounds like a townhouse would be right for you and you can always upgrade to a house at some point if you want. Just be sure to check into maintenance fees and reserves. If a homeowner’s association charges low maintenance fees but doesn’t have reserves you can be hit for hefty assessments if major reparis need to be done.

chyna's avatar

It depends on what you are looking for in your life.
If you don’t want to have to do yard work or outside upkeep then a cono might be for you.
But if you don’t want your neighbors that close, then you should buy a house. Once you buy a condo or townhouse you are stuck with the neighbors. If they play loud music, fight, or even smoke can find its way into your home.

Here2_4's avatar

The one thing I have personally against condos is the neighbors. If you have an irresponsible neighbor, your place could flood, burn or become otherwise intolerable or unlivable, and you are out your investment. There is insurance, but that is good for dollars only, not things of personal value. It is bad enough to have a jerk of a neighbor over a fence from you, but within the same building is just too much for me.

RedKnight's avatar

@Here2_4 That is very true! I think that is a big reason I’m gravitating towards the town house between the two. I would especially be afraid of getting a condo which may be hard to sell later and then being miserable with bad neighbors. The draw for the townhouse is there are no neighbors above or below you. Only to one side or two at the most. The other reason it draws me is the hybrid form between a condo and a house and less yard to worry about. I would probably try to get a house house later, but start with a town house.

@chyna That is very true. That’s why I am shying away from a condo and even worry about this with a town house. I know that with condos you most likely end up with neighbors left, right, above, and below which makes for a higher risk of bad neighbors. I am really liking the town homes I have seen because of the hybrid features between a house and a condo. However, I still worry about the one to two neighbors that could potentially be a problem. Can noise, smoke, etc still be a big issue since town homes are built differently?

@janbb Thank you for the heads up. That is definitely something I will want to look into concerning maintenance fees and reserves! I think that a town home definitely fits the bill for what I’m looking for in the coming years of my life with a house later down the line.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Take a hard, strong look at your lifestyle. Like yard work and solitude? Get a house. Work a lot? Travel frequently? Look at a condo or townhouse. I live in a “pud” planned unit development. It’s a single level townhouse. I decided on that because I was working full-time and going to school. I have a tiny yard that I don’t have to keep up with but I can still have a small garden and a two car garage. I travel frequently now and my neighbors can keep an eye on things when I’m away. A pud differs from a condo in several ways so you have to know what you are getting into. As much as people hate homeowners associations they are needed to keep your neighbors from doing crazy shit and dragging down the whole neighborhood. My wife is ready to move on to a house now and frankly so am I.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Never, ever, buy a condo.

@janbb gave you one good answer.

But the other is equally important. In a condo, you are a member (and subject to the whims) of the membership. They can control the color of your house, doors, and windows. They can tell you where to park. They can tell you home many pets you can have.

Condo associations are notorious for being run by busybodies who want to run the association according to THEIR vision.

If you buy a condo, you give up your freedom.

(Yes, I used to live in one.)

janbb's avatar

Both condos and townhomes can be regulated in the same way. You have to get a feel for the association and its by-laws yes, in either you can be controlled. that is sometimes the price you are willing to pay for low maintenance. My experience with one was not bad.

2davidc8's avatar

Even in a house you could be subject to the whims of the Homeowner’s Association, if it’s in a development that has one. As for exterior maintenance and yard work, if you don’t like to do these, you can always hire a service for these and it would probably cost less than the HOA fees. And some neighborhoods have individual houses yet still have a close-knit community where everybody knows each other. So it all depends on the specific situation. Not only do the larger choices of house vs. condo vs. townhome each have plusses and minuses, each neighborhood in which the property is situated can add plusses and minuses of their own.
Just as @elbanditoroso detailed the minuses of condo associations, @ARE_you_kidding_me gave you the plusses: As much as people hate homeowners associations they are needed to keep your neighbors from doing crazy shit and dragging down the whole neighborhood. If you might be dealing with an HOA, be sure to ask to see the bylaws.

JLeslie's avatar

I say it depends on what your needs are and also where you live. If you live in a fairly urban area and condos and townhouses are common, then those are good options. Some parts if the country living in townhouses and condos is rare, harder to sell when you want to sell, and appreciate very slowly even when the market is moving up.

Some townhouse associations take care of the roofs on all the houses, some don’t. Some take care of cutting the lawn, some don’t. You have to read over the documents and what the maintenance fees cover. Where my MIL lives they take care of cutting all the lawns and trimming the hedges and trees and she lives in a single family house.

If you live on less then 2 acres I recommend some sort of HOA or you could wind up living next to someone who rings down the value if your house with how they take care, or lack thereof, of their property.

I grew up in a townhouse most of my childhood and I never heard a neighbor through a wall. Codes probably vary from state to state on how the walls are built between units.

When I lived in a building I felt much less worry about my property when I left town for a week or two. If you travel a lot it can be a much easier lifestyle. Also, if you are in a big condo building there might be maintence men right on site to take care if maintence issues, which can be a nice convenience.

rojo's avatar

As stated above, personal preference.

I have a house. I want to sell it and I am open the a townhome because I am tired of maintaining the yard. Funny thing is I would be amenable to a home in the woods/fields and let nature take care of the plant life as it sees fit; I just no longer want to conform to some city planners idea of what constitutes an acceptable lawn area.

But there are trade offs. We looked at one where the taxes were lower but when you added in the HOA fees (which would cover they yard maintenance/plant care then we were back up to where we were in our existing home. My wife doesn’t like the idea of a common wall so maybe a patio home is more what I need to look at. Small yard but individual self-standing structure.

Here2_4's avatar

I have seen lawns done in some clever ways to make them less upkeep in the long run. If you live in the right environment, moss can be encouraged to cover the entire lawn. It is green, doesn’t need mowed, and leaves it still plantable if the next owner wants it that way.
Another solution is to gravel large areas, or use various other coverings which are (semi)permanent. The initial expense is pretty steep sometimes, but evens out over time.

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