Condo or Townhouse, What’s the Difference?
Learn the details about housing alternatives so you can make a smart choice when buying a home
But what’s the difference between a condo and a townhouse, anyway?
The type of home you choose can affect the types of changes you can (or cannot) make to your home, the number of rules and restrictions you must comply with, and the amount of money you’ll need to pay in monthly fees. Here’s how to keep these terms straight so you can understand the type of home you are considering buying without wading through heaps of legalese.
What you own: Condo owners do not own the land or the exterior of the building, only the inside of the unit itself. Because only the interior of the unit is owned, you could potentially share walls with neighbors above, below and on both sides — although there are also freestanding condos. Any stairways, entries, gardens and common areas outside your unit are owned collectively by all unit owners.
Fees and Rules
Fees and rules: If you own a condo, you pay a monthly fee to a homeowner’s association for maintenance of the property. Since you do not own the building, you may not choose paint colors for or make changes to the exterior or common areas, but you are free to do whatever you want to customize the interior of your home.
What you own: When you purchase a townhouse, you own both the structure itself and the land it is on. Unlike a condo, a townhouse has its own roof and may have a garage and private yard, which you also own. Because you own the property, you would never have upstairs or downstairs neighbors in a townhouse, though you may have neighbors on either side.
Fees and Rules
Fees and rules: Just as with a condo, if you own a townhouse, you must pay a monthly fee to the homeowner’s association, which goes toward maintenance costs of the property. Unlike with a condo, you can make changes to the exterior and yard of your townhouse as well as the interior. However, the homeowner’s association may have rules you are required to follow concerning exterior paint colors, landscaping and more — be sure to ask about this in advance of purchasing if this is important to you.
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