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Tips Before Purchasing a Townhouse

written by: nataliajones•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 8/9/2010

Although a single-family home might be some people's idea of a dream home, budget constraints, lifestyle differences and concerns about safety might lead others to explore different living arrangements. Before you make up your mind, though, take a look at these tips for purchasing a townhouse.

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    Consider These Tips for a Townhouse Purchase

    Purchasing a Townhouse A townhouse is a great compromise for people who want more space than a typical condo or apartment offers, but are not ready to commit to a single-family home. Lots of people opt for the townhouse structure because it gives one the feeling of being in a single family home, without much of the responsibility that comes with truly detached living. The following are a few tips to consider before purchasing a townhouse.

    Don't Forget to Ask About HOA Fees

    Some townhouses offer the convenience of entrusting the maintenance of the outdoor spaces, and sometimes even the exterior of the building, to a Home Owner's Association (HOA.) This means you won't be responsible for tending to your little patch of land, and you are also not expected to paint the exterior of your home.

    Some associations include security as well, which might involve paying for a secure entry system, and maybe even lights on the exterior of the compound. However, this comes at a cost, and it is wise to factor this monthly fee into the cost of your mortgage to make sure you can really afford the property. HOA fees can be anywhere from $50 to $250 a month, so they have the power to make or break your decision.

    Will You Have Enough Privacy?

    Some people love the idea of having neighbors in close proximity, while others prefer to be far away from their closest neighbor. In a townhouse, your neighbors are not on top or below, but they are on either side (if you are in a middle unit,) and this can feel a bit enclosed for some people's taste. A townhouse actually shares walls with the neighbor's walls, so you should think about the possibility of noise carrying through to their ears.

    Security is Often a Plus

    If you are attracted to living arrangements where you feel protected, a townhouse purchase might be a good option. Some townhouses are in gated communities, which adds an extra layer of security, but even on a main street, a townhouse provides a bit of protection, because you are flanked by people on either side. This option is great for people who travel a lot, so they don't feel exposed if they want to lock their doors to take a trip for a while.

    Can You Deal With The Restrictions?

    Living in a townhouse comes with some restrictions. While one of the exciting things about home ownership is the ability to do what you want to your property without having to answer to anyone, a townhouse that is in an HOA does not offer that kind of freedom. You are allowed to add anything to the exterior of your home, and you certainly cannot change the color. These restrictions are put in place to protect the value of your investment, but they can feel a bit stifling for some people. So if you want to put up an awning to protect you from the sun, you would need to get approval from the association, even though you own your home.

    Sharing is a Must With Townhouse Ownership

    If you have trouble sharing, then townhouse living is probably not for you. In a townhouse you share walls, an doutdoor space, while driveways may be so close they feel like they are about to overlap. If you want to have a defined space to call your own, then you may want to think about saving some more for a single family home rather than rushing into purchasing a townhouse.

    Townhouses are less expensive than single family homes and because of this, they allow you to get into an area that might otherwise be outside of your reach. If you are willing to accept the challenges they present, then they are a great way to get into the neighborhood of your choice.

    Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net