Deciding where to live is one of life’s most significant decisions, and you must consider every factor when you set out to make that call. Every type of living option has its pros and cons and depends significantly on your particular lifestyle. Everyone knows about houses and apartments, but what about the perfect balance between the two?
Townhomes are an often misunderstood but precious option if you’re looking for something more than an apartment but don’t quite want to commit to all the responsibility that comes with owning a single-family home.
Purchasing a home is a big decision — one that mustn’t be made hastily. It’s a big step in life and signals a certain sense of financial freedom. When choosing to buy a home, people often leave townhouses out of the equation. However, there are many advantages of townhouse living. In fact, by the end of this article, you may even think townhomes are better than single-family houses.
Understanding Townhome Living Arrangements
A townhouse, sometimes also called a townhome or row house, is usually a single-family house that directly touches the buildings next to it. Owners typically own the home and space inside it and, often, the small yard and driveway areas. Exactly who owns the sections of the walls between the houses is usually spelled out in legal documents.
Traditionally, townhouses differ from condominiums, or condos for short, in that owners don’t have an interest in specific condo common areas and amenities like playfields, clubhouses or swimming pools. Townhouse owners are also responsible for their upkeep of both the interior and exterior. Simultaneously, in a condo, some of those costs might be covered by the condo association through member condo fees. More recently, though, some condos have been built in a townhouse style. Many townhouses are part of a homeowners association that can levy fees for everyday uses and set rules similar to a condo association.
Considering Townhome Ownership And Fees
If you’re considering buying a townhouse, a condo, a standalone home or any other kind of property, make sure you do your due diligence and understand exactly what it is that you’re considering buying. Determine exactly which land and physical structures are yours and which are shared amenities, as well as what you’re responsible for maintaining.
Also, take into account any fees you may have to pay to a condo association or HOA, as well as the power of such an organization to regulate how you can alter or decorate your home and yard. Remember that any condo or HOA fees must be paid on top of other bills such as your mortgage, property tax, insurance, utilities and general upkeep. Looking for home builders? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered.
Townhouse vs Single-Family House
You’ve seen it multiple times across this article, but you may not know what it means. A single-family house is a residential building that doesn’t rely on another structure for support. In other words, it’s free-standing. Some people also refer to it as a single-detached house or a standalone house.
On the other hand, a townhouse or townhome is a residential building that shares one or more walls with other units of its kind. Though not mandatory, most townhouses usually sport a uniform look or design and consist of two or more floors.
Advantages Of Townhouse Living
Family enjoying an autumn afternoon outdoors | townhouse living one of the most appealing advantages of townhouse living is not putting as much of an effort when it comes to maintenance. Landscaping becomes a breeze because the community association takes care of that.
You don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn or pulling out weeds every weekend. Spend your Saturdays relaxing after a week’s hard work and admiring the pristine condition of your front yard.
Some single-detached homes have pools, but that comes with a heavy burden. Owners living in those homes are responsible for maintaining and cleaning their pools — a particularly unenjoyable experience, especially during certain seasons. With a townhome, you get rid of that problem. Townhome residents have a shared community pool that magically stays in tip-top shape thanks to the community HOA. All other communal facilities follow this pattern, as well.
When you live in a townhouse, you get all the functionality and zero responsibility for maintaining it. If you want a place of your own but do not want to play an active part in the upkeep, a townhouse is your best bet.
Stair in the blue swimming pool background | townhouse livingThere’s an apparent reason why many people frequent resorts: the amenities. From giant pools to impressive gyms, resorts provide you with recreational facilities to not have to venture far to find them. In this way, townhomes are very similar to resorts.
Townhouses come with an extensive array of communal amenities. Are you feeling hot on a summer’s day? Head to the pool to cool down. Are you looking to shape up? The fitness centre shouldn’t be too far. Other amenities can include BBQ pits, clubhouses, playgrounds, dog parks, tennis courts, and even car washing stations.
Additionally, the HOA takes care of maintenance and upkeep. Picnic areas and clubhouses can also be reserved to entertain guests for parties. The best part is, you can avail yourself of these amenities throughout the year.
However, the benefits of townhome living go beyond recreational amenities. Utilities like pest control, trash services, and HVAC inspections also typically come with the deal. Though your HOA community-based property has assessment fees, these fees are worth every penny considering the amenities you get in addition to a lovely place for yourself.
Value for Money
Gold piggy bank inside wooden house model | benefits of townhome living contrary to what some may believe, townhouses provide excellent value for money. In the same neighbourhood, townhomes are more affordable than single-family homes. They are a cheaper option almost every time in comparison to standalone dwellings.
Furthermore, you don’t have to pay staggering property taxes when you live in a townhome. Due to the smaller lot size, townhome residents pay lower property taxes than those in conventional homes. Homeowners association fees also tend to be lower when compared to condos.
Owning a townhome is the same as owning a single-detached house. You can either finance the home or pay upfront in cash. Plus, you still own the piece of land the townhouse is built on. The selling process is pretty much the same as well. You can sell it on your own or with the help of a realtor. However, you must abide by the protocol set by HOA community guidelines and bylaws.
Sense of Community
A defining feature of townhome living is the sense of community and camaraderie one experiences. Townhomes generally have shared walls, which means residents live close to one another. When you’re that close, it’s hard to go on with daily life without even learning your neighbor’s name.
When you live in a single-detached house, you tend to be more isolated. You may know your next-door neighbour or say hi to the family living across from you, but it’s hard to form a real community with this setup. With townhouses, you have several people living within a short distance from you. Plus, you see them in communal spaces and events as well. Living in such a way almost guarantees a feeling of kinship between and among neighbours.
A row of colourful, red, yellow, blue, white, green painted residential townhouses | townhouse vs single-family house when it comes to real estate, everyone knows that location is critical. it’sIt’s one of the things buyers prioritize the most when they hunt for new homes. Luckily, townhomes check this box, too.
More often than not, townhouses sit in dense and convenient locations. These developments are usually situated near vibrant establishments, offering ample choices for entertainment, dining, and shopping. Some townhomes can also be within walking distance to schools and parks. In this way, townhouse living suits virtually everyone — childless or otherwise.
Perhaps one of the most alluring advantages of townhouse living is the added security. Single-detached houses often rely on fences and security systems to ward away potential intruders. However, with townhomes, you get a little bonus in the form of a security gate. While not all townhomes have this feature, some do. If a security gate is an extra you need, look for a townhome community that has it.
Additionally, townhome communities are typically well-lit, which means you don’t have to worry about walking the streets at night. Neighbours also tend to look out for one another, and this protectiveness can be reassuring. In today’s world, splurging a little more for added security is almost common sense. Check out our range of Melbourne home builders for your dream house.
Great Option for Seniors
Smiling senior man and woman | advantages of townhouse you happen to be a retiree or a senior citizen, living in a townhome is a great way to enjoy freedom without the added baggage of extra maintenance. HOA communities provide a great sense of community which is crucial at this age.
The social events are fun and provide you with an opportunity to make new friends. Additionally, you can look for communities specifically designed for elders, which will help you settle in no time.
No Worrying Over External Home Improvement
Typically, townhouses are managed by property management companies. Therefore, the exterior upkeep of your house is also taken care of by the HOA. If you think your home needs a paint job or some external fixtures need replacement, the management has got you covered.
The process of application can be found in the bylaws of the community. Usually, though, a formal application needs to be put forth. However, you can rest assured that the job is generally done quickly and without much hassle.
Townhouse Vs. House Vs. Condominium
Legally owning a townhouse often isn’t that different from owning a standalone, suburban-style house. You purchase the home, including its exterior walls and roof and the land underneath it. If the townhouse has a yard, garden or driveway, that’s usually yours as well. You’re responsible for maintaining the interior and exterior of your townhouse for your comfort and for keeping the property in compliance with any local ordinances and the rules of your homeowners’ association if you’re in one.
You may be required to keep your yard tidy, remove leaves, snow and ice from your sidewalk or even keep your building painted a particular colour. Ensure you understand what you’re getting into in terms of local ordinances and HOA rules before you make a purchase.
That’s different from owning a condominium, where you usually own only the space within your building or unit walls, with the rest owned by a condominium association. With a condo, generally shared areas like yards, private roads and walks are owned by the association, and you’re not required to hire your contractors or do your maintenance to keep them in good shape. You usually pay condo fees and elect a condo association board to handle these types of tasks.
Townhouse Maintenance Costs And Obligations
Before you buy any property, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what kind of maintenance will be required and how much it may cost. This will be separate from your mortgage payment, your property tax, your homeowners’ insurance payments, and any HOA dues you may pay with a townhouse.
You generally will have a home inspector examine the property before you buy it, and the inspector can alert you to potential red flags, including structural issues with walls and roofs, pest problems, issues with heating and cooling systems and other signs that you may have to repair the home soon after you purchase it.
Certain costs, including heating and cooling, can be lower in a townhouse than a standalone home since the adjacent buildings help keep in heat or cool air. If your yard is relatively small, it can naturally be cheaper to water, mow and otherwise maintain than a larger yard on another property.
Risks Of Owning A Townhouse
Since your townhouse will be adjacent to other people’s properties, they may be more sensitive to you promptly taking care of visible townhouse maintenance issues since nobody wants to live next to a house with peeling paint or an unsightly front yard. You may want to take a good look at the nearby homes to make sure there are no blight issues or signs that people nearby have a noisy lifestyle since that will be hard to escape when you’re living side by side. It is also essential to stay on top of pest issues since insects and rodents can easily travel between properties if they’re not nipped in the bud.
Considering Disadvantages Of A Townhouse
Townhouses aren’t necessarily for everyone. If you enjoy the open space and privacy of a standalone home, a townhouse might not be the best choice. Townhouses also make you more dependent on having good relationships with your neighbours. The shared walls make it easy for sounds to travel, and if your neighbours don’t maintain a clean space, you might find bugs or rodents travelling from house to house, even if you keep your area clean.
Some people may also prefer the approach of a traditional condo complex or building, where exterior spaces are usually collectively, rather than individually, maintained. That can mean less work and less time spent managing contractors for individual homeowners.
The Disadvantages of Living in a Townhouse
There are advantages to calling a townhouse home, but there are also reasons why people decide to purchase single-family homes instead. With that being said, let’s take a brief look at some of the disadvantages of townhomes.
One of the most significant issues people have with townhouses is that you’re sharing a physical wall with neighbours on either side. This might not be an issue, but it could prove to be problematic if you live next to people who are, let’s say, less than courteous. Your tiny backyard also won’t be nearly as private as it would in a typical neighbourhood with lots of landscaping and space between lots.
Depending on the development, the HOA may have stringent restrictions on the changes you can make inside and outside the home. If you’re someone who likes renovations and updates, this may stifle your creativity and severely limit your options.
You may assume that financing works the same regardless of what type of property you’re buying, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re buying a townhouse, you may find that your lender treats it more like a condo than a house.
“Some lenders choose to underwrite all townhomes as if they were condos, leading to higher costs. Some have more nuanced guidelines,” explains Gregory Erich Phillips, a veteran in the mortgage industry. “If you are buying in an area with a lot of townhomes, it’s a good idea to find a lender with experience in the area. Maybe even speak to the other owners to find out who they used for financing.” MJS Construction Group has the best range of home builders Melbourne services to help you create your dream house.
You might get a great deal on a townhome when buying, but you may also have to dish out that same discount when you eventually decide to sell.
“Resale values on townhouses sometimes lag values of single-family homes in certain markets,” personal finance expert Neil Kokemuller writes. “This is especially true in communities that have seen an influx in the availability of condos and townhouses in the early 21st century. Some builders replicate successful developments near the same areas — in effect creating your same home, but newer.”
On the flip side, townhomes are often easier to rent out than single-family homes. When you decide to buy again, you may be able to rent it out and pick up an additional income stream.
Townhomes have the same financial advantages but are generally less expensive than single-family homes in the same neighbourhoods. Townhome owners also tend to pay lower utility bills because the townhome shared walls help prevent heat loss. And, there is possibly less out of pocket maintenance costs with a townhome than a single-family home.
Townhouse residents enjoy the feel of single-family living, often at a lower cost and with much less responsibility for maintenance than a single-family home. And in urban or densely populated suburban areas where land is at a premium, a townhome may be the perfect option for small families or empty nesters.