Differences and Similarities Between a Condo vs. a Townhouse
written by: Vandana Singhal•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 8/13/2010
When you want to invest your hard-earned money in a property meeting all your housing requirements, and within your budget, it is essential to understand the various housing options around. Read here to learn about the differences and similarities between a condo vs. a townhouse.
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With an increasing demand for urban home structures, there are many new home ideas and concepts. Condominiums and townhouses are two housing options, which are popular among home buyers as lucrative investments. However, people often use these two terms interchangeably due to lack of understanding about the basic differences between these two types of housing. If you are considering buying a condo vs a townhouse, here is a simply explanation of the differences and similarities between these two.
When we talk about similarities between these two structures, they are just a few. Basically, both are forms of housing structures. In addition, both types have one or more walls in common with other houses. Finally, both come under certain legal agreements.
However, there are many differences. We can differentiate both types of housing based on their meaning, legal status, land ownership, structure, common areas, cost, and maintenance.
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Condominiums are known as condos. Condos are part of bigger housing structure, usually a building. The condo owner owns the interiors of the condo independently, but not the land beneath the condo. Condos are attached to other individual units in the building by walls or can be stacked on the top of each other.
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Townhouses are individual housing units, which are connected to other townhouses by one wall horizontally. The basic difference between condos and townhouse is the ownership of the land beneath. The owner of a townhouse owns the land beneath and at the top of the townhouse, which is not the case in a condo. A townhouse owner may have a duplex or triplex house with complete ownership of all the floors.
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As condominiums are part of joint ownership of land, their creation, sale, and management is governed by the certain statues of that country and state while there are no statues governing townhouses. In fact, the townhouses are governed by the same laws which govern single homes.
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Features and structure
Condos are usually smaller than townhouses. The condo owner has individual ownership of the interiors of the unit. For the common areas such as roof, swimming pool, hallways, and others, all the individual condo owners in the same building have joint ownership. On the other hand, a townhouse owner owns the whole house, including roof, deck, yard, and land beneath. A townhouse starts from a ground floor while a condo can be on any floor of the building. A townhouse owner can make structural changes inside the house and on the land due to his complete ownership, while a condo owner has only limited authority to make changes in the interior of the condo.
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Apart from the areas mentioned above, there are some common areas in both housing structures for the benefits of house owners such as recreational parks, parking lots, walking areas, and others. In condos, all the individual condo owners are the joint owners of these areas while in case of townhouses, the homeowners’ association owns and manages these areas for the benefit of a the unit owners.
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Condos are cheaper than a townhouse in the same location and having same square footage. When purchasing a townhome, you will pay the cost of the land, too, which is not the case for a condo. A condo is the part of bigger building where you own only an individual unit.
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Both a condos and townhouse come with association fees meant for maintenance. When you buy a house, it requires some kind of maintenance. In case of condos and townhouses, it is taken care by associations.
For townhouse, these associations generally take care of trash removal, lawn care, snow removal or a fee for hazard insurance.
For condos, these associations take care of all the above plus heating, sewage, water. They may even cover the maintenance of shared amenities such as tennis court or a pool, exercise rooms, saunas, and other amenities.
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If you are considering buying a condo vs a townhouse, both have their own pros and cons. It is for you to judge and analyze both these housing types according to your requirements and expectations.