When one starts looking for a home, usually the first question they ask themselves is what type of home to buy; should it be a single family home, an apartment rental, a condo? The options can be difficult as there are pros and cons to each. New homeowners may find that townhomes offer a middle ground between expensive single-family homes and less-private condominium units. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
What is a townhouse?
A townhouse is part of a planned development; generally there is one common wall with your neighbor and own property from the ground to the ceiling. Townhomes usually include individually owned front and back lawn, but also common areas like pools, parks or gym.
Pros to owning a townhouse
The homeowners association will take care of some maintenance. This makes it good for those who want more free time or don’t enjoy maintenance tasks. The developments also usually include certain amenities, like a pool, park, playground, clubhouse, community library, gym or recreation area. Townhomes usually do not cost as much as single-family structures because of the shared foundation and walls. You hold legal title to the property and land where you reside. In addition, property taxes and mortgage interest payments on a townhome are tax-deductible.
Cons to owning a townhouse
A homeowners association usually governs townhomes, so you have less independence in making certain decisions about your property and even specific unit. This can limit your ability to paint your home a certain color, add sheds or even park certain vehicles in your driveway. The homeowners association will also require fees for upkeep of the common areas and property.
You are also responsible for the property’s real estate taxes in full. Furthermore, most townhomes offer less privacy and more limited yard space than single-family homes. Your living space is also more vertical than horizontal in most developments, so you will have to walk up stairs to get between different living spaces. Resale of townhouses is also usually more difficult than for a single-family home.
Despite the complications and potentially high costs, townhomes often offer the most attractive option in urban or near-urban areas. If you are considering buying a townhome, weigh the benefits and limitations carefully, and talk to your realtor and mortgage professional to be sure that you know all the details and obligations involved in ownership of a town home. For further reading, see: Single-Family Homes vs. Attached-Unit Homes, and, What is the Difference Between a Townhome and a Condo?