Buying A Townhome vs Condo Vs Buying A House
There are many decisions you need to make when it comes to buying a new home. Among them is whether you want a house or a townhome vs condo. There are major differences and it’s worth considering them all before you jump in on a decision. What you eventually choose will likely depend on your age, what sort of responsibility you’re looking to take on, what you can afford, and more.
One of the perceived downsides to buying a townhome/condo is the homeowner’s association fees. People feel like they’re getting screwed with those and at first glance it feels like that. HOA fees can be a great deal but they’re paying for stuff that you’d have to pay for yourself if you owned a home so it’s not really a great expense. The HOA fees go to taking care of the landscaping, fixing your roof if it wears out, taking care of disasters, plowing the roads and driveways (if you live in a snowy area), painting, and more. It’s not the condo board making money off of you. All the fees are eventually spent and they’re usually spent in some way that benefits the owners.
If you own a house there are tons of expenses that go into maintaining it. Your roof will have to be replaced every 15-25 years. You have to keep the yard looking good. You need to maintain the look of your house by regularly painting. There are dozens of other expenses you have to take care of, too, and they will all assault your bank account and threaten to drain you. You could ignore all of those maintenance issues but then it will cost you when you try to sell your house and the value has been destroyed because you didn’t bother to maintain it. HOA fees most likely won’t cost more than maintaining a house would.
Neighbors can be a negative no matter where you live but it can be even more of an issue if you’re buying a townhome/condo. If the construction is shoddy and noise seeps through the walls you might hear people partying all night long. If their TV is too loud and you can’t sleep that’s a freaking nightmare and it’s almost certain you’re going to run into these issues with some townhomes/condos. It would be ideal if you knew this before you moved in but that’s not always possible because you’re not always going to have someone listening to loud music or watching a loud TV when you’re touring the townhome/condo.
You can try and ask the neighbors what the sound is like when you’re visiting a place you really like. They’re likely to be honest so you can almost certainly trust what they say. If you’re buying a house then you’re not really going to have this issue. Sure, you might have a terrible neighbor that plays music too loudly but it’s a rare occasion and sleep will almost never be interrupted. That’s a big advantage for a house.
When you live in a townhome/condo you often don’t have total control over how it looks. You can’t paint the outside because that’s taken care of by the HOA. You can’t put an addition on your townhome/condo because they need to look the same. If you want to build a deck or a pool you’re out of luck. These are major drawbacks, especially since so many people choose to expand their homes over building new ones.
All of that changes with a home. There are rules in certain neighborhoods about what you can do and depending on where you live there will be city codes about what can be built, but you have a great deal more freedom than with a townhome/condo. If you want to put in a pool you just have to get a permit and then you can build it. If you want to put on a second floor you’re most likely going to be able to do that. You can also change the landscaping as you see fit, which is a great pleasure. Anything you want to plant you can plant. Have fun coming up with a great design.
The biggest advantage to buying a home is that sense of control. You can make the home an extension of your personality. You can make the yard something bright and pretty or change it into a desert look if you want. You can shift the kitchen around to create an open look or close it off for something warm and tight. With a townhome/condo you don’t really have that option. You can make some changes but you’re always going to own a place that looks just like the other ones.
The greatest advantage to owning a townhome/condo is that you don’t have to do nearly as much work. For most people I imagine that’s the biggest difference. You don’t have to mow the lawn, plow the snow, paint the house, tend the weeds, plant flowers, etc. Some people are driven by that sort of stuff and really enjoy it and obviously they would want to own a house. If you’re just interested in owning something so you’re building equity and you don’t want to put all that sweat into it then you can buy a townhome/condo. It might be an easy decision.
In some cases you don’t really have the option of buying a house. If you want to live in a city then you’re pretty much going with a townhome/condo. In a city like Los Angeles you have other options but for the most part if you want to be in the urban area, especially in the hipper parts of an urban area, you’re looking at a condo. What is it you’re looking for in your life?
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