Should You Buy a Townhouse?


Townhouse

Purchasing a home can be overwhelming when you are faced with all the various options.  Many first-time homeowners will opt for a townhouse instead of a free-standing house, but who would benefit from buying a townhouse?

A townhouse is a great option for a single homeowner, a young couple, or a small family.  If you prefer a home without the maintenance and upkeep of a larger property, townhouses can be a great option. Most townhouses are members of a Homeowners Association (HOA), which guides upkeep and often includes outside maintenance. 

In this article, you will learn all about townhomes and how they compare to a regular home, apartment, and condo.

Is a Townhome a Condo?

There is often a misconception that townhomes are condos; however, this is not the case.  While both are on the smaller side and often share a property with other homeowners, there are distinct differences between the two. 

The similarities of and differences between condos and townhomes include:

CondoTownhome
StructureAn individual owned unit within a building of many units.A single-family home with two floors and a shared wall with another residence.
Similar toAn apartmentAn attached home
Typical ownerResidentResident
CostCost-effectiveLess than a house but more costly than a condo
HOAHOA (required)HOA (required)
Who owns the land?No land ownershipOwn a small piece of land

Why Choose a Townhouse?

When determining if you would enjoy living in a townhouse, many factors need to be considered. Ultimately this comes down to personal preference, as well as budget.  When looking to buy a townhouse, it’s important to consider these factors: size, number of people in the family, resale value, cost, location, and accessibility.

  • Size: Whenever you decide to purchase a home, you need to factor in how much space you will need for your household.  It’s a good idea to look ahead a few years, which is not always easy to do. The last thing you want to do is buy a townhouse only to realize you have outgrown it within a short time.
  • Number of People: If you are single or only have a spouse and no thoughts of an expanding family on the horizon, a townhouse may be the perfect fit for you. With a small number of residents, you will also likely have room to spare for guests. 
  • Cost:  One of the main factors when purchasing a home is the cost. You do not want to ever be in the position of being “house poor.”  This is when you have more house than you can logically afford.  Perhaps you want a townhouse because of the attractive location, but it may lead you to ignore the actual cost and value, which can hurt your future.
  • Re-Sale Value: While it is not always pleasant to think of when you are searching for a home, it is important to consider the potential of reselling your home.  Although it can be stressful to think of buying and selling all at the same time, it is essential, especially if this home is not your “forever” home.
    If you purchase a townhouse in a booming market but have to sell during a decline, you may have a tough time recouping your money or even just selling the property.  There is no way to predict what the market will be like, but it is important to have the thoughts in your mind. 
  • Location: Typically, people are drawn to townhomes because of their location relative to a town or a city.  Not only is it fun to be close to the activity, but it can also be extremely cost-effective because you can likely walk or use public transportation to get to where you need to go. It is also likely convenient to work as well. 
  • Accessibility: When you are looking at a townhouse, you will notice that most are two-story homes, which means there are steps to navigate.  Usually, there are many steps to navigate.  While this may not be an issue for most people, if you have any health issues that make climbing stairs difficult, it is worth considering the challenges the multiple levels could present.
    Not only should you think about this in terms of your health, but also in terms of the guests you will be welcoming into your home. If you have friends or family members that will frequently be staying that have limited mobility, it may be challenging to them as well. 

Of course, there may be factors that may be hard to predict, like unexpected moves, job changes, adding children to your family.  However, if you think through several scenarios, it will likely help the decision-making process.

Cost-Effectiveness

A critical consideration is the cost of a townhouse.  While it is more expensive than a condo, it is typically less than a free-standing residential home. However, you are also going to be paying extra fees to an HOA, which may be costly in the end.  

It is also important to factor in where you live.  The price of housing varies greatly by region. In the northeast, you may be looking to spend $140 per square foot while in the west, you could be spending $210 per square foot for the same size home.

Owning a townhouse is advantageous if you do not enjoy gardening or if you are away for work often and do not have the time to maintain both land and a home.  However, this will come with a cost. Typically, it is part of the HOA fees, but sometimes it is not.  A townhouse can be cost-effective if you have a full understanding of the fees associated with the property. 

Who Should Buy a Townhouse?

You may be wondering what demographic would fit best in a townhouse.  Like all homes, there is not one set group that thrives or gravitates toward townhomes. However, townhomes are more convenient for certain people than others. 

The following people would benefit from buying a townhome:

  • First time homeowners: A townhouse is a great segway into homeownership.  It provides the owner with their own property, and the amount of maintenance and upkeep is kept to a minimum because of the HOA as well as the size of the home. 
  • City Living: If you live in a metropolitan area, you will likely find a townhouse a viable option for purchase.  It provides the option of having your own space, unlike an apartment.  It also provides the comfort of home within reach of everything you love about the city and city life. 
  • Retirement: Perhaps you are looking to downsize for retirement purposes.  If this is the case, you need to take into consideration your ability to navigate the multiple levels of a townhouse. Still, it would likely be a strong option, as it is limited in what you need to do to maintain the property.

Final Thoughts

A townhouse is an excellent way to become an homeowneer without all the responsibility that comes along with a typical residential property. 

It can be cost-effective and convenient for your current lifestyle, but it’s important to know the housing market, the location you are purchasing, and the actual additional fees that can come along with owning a townhouse.

Rasmus

Hi, my name is Rasmus. I'm a huge fan of alternative living arrangements and the many ways people are escaping the 9 to 5 grind. Whether it's van dwelling or homesteading, if it allows for more freedom in your life then I'm all ears! I've been exploring different aspects of this lifestyle for over three years now and have learned so much. From solar power to worm farming, if there's something out there that helps us live differently - I want to know about it!

Recent Posts