Condo vs. Townhouse: What are the differences?

Condo vs townhouse

Should I buy a condo or a townhouse?

Deciding between a condo and a townhouse is like choosing between coffee and tea. Both options are cozy and comforting, but they have different styles and experiences. Understanding the difference between a condo and a townhouse is important for any prospective homeowner.

Condos offer shared amenities and a communal living experience. Townhouses provide more privacy and often have multiple floors. Each has its own set of advantages and responsibilities, from differences in maintenance obligations to homeowners’ association (HOA) fees.

Are you ready to start your journey into a new condo or townhouse? Whether you want to own a comfortable townhouse or trendy condo, a mortgage pre-approval is a common first step. This process not only clarifies what you can afford but also puts you in a stronger position when you’re ready to make an offer.

What is a condo?

A condo is a private home in a multi-unit building. It’s not that different from an apartment, but condos don’t have a landlord. Owners own their own unit but share common areas like gyms, pools, and gardens. The main difference between a condo and a townhouse lies in ownership boundaries and community living aspects.

In condos, you own the walls, floors, and ceilings of your unit. The homeowner’s association (HOA) takes care of everything outside and the shared spaces. In townhouses, owners often own both the building and the land it’s on, including any front or backyards. This ownership is not the same as condos.

What is a townhouse?

When you own a townhouse, you’re purchasing a single-family dwelling that shares one or more walls with neighboring units but, here’s the kicker – you also often own the land it sits on. This is a game-changer for many, as it offers a slice of independence and space not typically found in condo living.

Condos, on the other hand, involve buying into a shared building, where you own the unit, but common areas are co-owned with other residents. This means, with a condo, you might not have to worry about exterior maintenance, but you might also find yourself with less privacy and autonomy than a townhouse offers.

So, pondering condo vs. townhouse? The key lies in understanding these differences. While both can be fantastic living options, your preference might hinge on the value you place on ownership, space, and autonomy. 

Condo vs Townhouse: Key Differences

While they may seem similar, condos and townhouses actually have distinct differences that can affect living arrangements and ownership responsibilities.

Condos are part of larger buildings or complexes where you own your unit’s interior, but share common areas like gyms and pools with others. Townhouses are multi-floor homes that share walls with neighbors but have private entrances and yards. Owners are responsible for both the interior and exterior, including the land and roof.

Ownership and maintenance distinctions between condos and townhouses are significant. Condo owners have less maintenance to worry about. Homeowners’ associations (HOA) take care of exterior and common areas. However, this convenience comes with higher HOA fees. Townhouse owners, while potentially paying for community amenities and services via HOA fees, bear more responsibility for their property’s upkeep.

Additional differences between townhouses and condos include:

Condo vs Townhouse: Size

Typically, townhouses offer more space than condos, featuring multiple floors and often a private entrance. In contrast, condos usually consist of single-level living spaces and are part of larger buildings.

The difference between a condo and a townhouse in terms of size significantly impacts buyer preferences and lifestyle needs.

While condos might offer less square footage, they often come with fewer maintenance responsibilities, appealing to those seeking a more hands-off lifestyle. Conversely, townhouses can provide more living space, resembling a traditional home, which is ideal for families or individuals desiring more room.

Condo vs Townhouse: Costs

When diving into the real estate market, understanding the differences in cost between a condo and a townhouse is crucial. So, what’s the difference between a condo and a townhouse from a financial perspective?

Condos generally have lower purchase prices than townhouses. However, prices will vary depending on a lot of factors. Key reasons for differences in price include the neighborhood, the size of the unit, the building materials, and included amenities.

Also, when you buy a condo, you’re often subject to higher monthly homeowners’ association (HOA) fees, which cover building maintenance, amenities, and, sometimes, utilities. Townhouses usually have cheaper HOA fees, but the initial purchase price might be higher because you may also be purchasing the land the townhome is built on.

Another factor to consider is insurance costs. Insurance for a condo typically covers the interior of the unit, leading to lower premiums. Townhouse owners, need insurance that covers both the exterior and interior. The need for more coverage has the potential to increase insurance costs. So, when weighing the difference between a condo and a townhouse, it’s clear that both have unique cost structures depending on what you’re looking for in a home. 

Condo vs Townhouse: Amenities

Condos typically offer amenities like gyms, pools, and concierge services, managed by a homeowners’ association. These shared facilities may be very different from what you’ll find with a townhouse.

Townhouses, on the other hand, may offer more privacy and personal outdoor space like backyards, which are less common in condo living.

How can I start my journey to a new condo or townhouse?

To start the process of buying a new condo or townhouse, it’s important to know the main differences between the available options.

Condos have HOA fees that cover maintenance, giving you a low-maintenance lifestyle. Townhouses offer more privacy and space, but also come with more responsibilities.

The first crucial step is obtaining a mortgage pre-approval, which outlines your affordability and demonstrates your seriousness to sellers. This is based on your financial history, credit score, income, and debts. With a mortgage pre-approval, you can confidently explore options within your budget, ensuring they meet your needs.

Applicant subject to credit and underwriting approval. Not all applicants will be approved for financing. Receipt of application does not represent an approval for financing or interest rate guarantee. Restrictions may apply, contact Owning for current rates and for more information.

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