For those looking to purchase their first property in an urban setting, the choice will very often fall between a series of properties that are either townhouses or condos. These properties have advantages over detached and semi-detached homes for first-time buyers, the most obvious being that they are more widely available and less expensive. But what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of each?
The Basic Differences
As you probably already know, a condominium is an apartment-like property that is part of a larger building managed by a condo corporation. Although sharing a range of common spaces and amenities, however, a condo is owned by the resident and not rented from a landlord individually. Nevertheless, unlike a privately-owned apartment, the residents – or certain residents – often work together in order to manage the building through the condo corporation. Each resident owns their individual unit, whereas the building as a whole is owned collectively.
A townhouse, on the other hand, is a property that is physically connected to similar ones on either side but is a property entirely owned by each individual resident. There is no real collaboration on the management of the complex or whatever other buildings might be connected to it.
CityHome Collective, a real estate brokerage with specific expertise in condo and townhouse sales, recommends that one of the foremost advantages of a townhouse is the added privacy and individual ownership that comes with it, whereas the main benefit of a condo is the advantage of having certain (shared) extras that might not come with any other type of property.
Of course, there are plenty of other, more specific, differences besides this. Nonetheless, the question of shared living vs. privacy is probably the main one.
The other differences between a condo and a townhouse can range widely and cover many different areas, from the performance of the property on the market, when it comes time to sell, to the general aesthetics of each type of property. Below are listed some of the most significant differences.
Number of Stories
This is a major structural difference that applies across the board between nearly all types of condos and townhouses. A condo will, in the vast majority of cases, only have one level, whereas a townhouse will have two or more. Of course, also bear in mind that a condo will be part of a multi-story building whereas a townhouse will not.
Following on from the last point, it is obvious that a townhouse will have a roof while a condo will not. As obvious as this is, it is worth pointing out simply because roof care is an important task you might prefer to avoid.
With a condo, you will most likely experience the feel of a hotel or apartment building, complete with elevators, concierges, a security service, and shared amenities. A townhouse, on the other hand, feels much more like a traditional home.
When it comes to space, it is important to bear in mind that both townhouses and condos can vary in size quite a bit. Generally speaking, a condo will be the smaller of the two, but this only speaks to what is generally available. If you want to get hunting for a large condo (or even a smaller townhouse), there is nothing stopping you.
Both townhouses and condos are immensely popular among first-time homeowners, and it is easy to see why. By paying heed to the most important distinctions set out above, you can narrow down your search right from the get-go.