Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

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Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by StevenNJ1 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:10 am

I know it may be more of a personal choice and never having my own house for all these years living with neighbors around me, I am not too afraid of having a neighbor on both side of my townhouse. However, I am curious if there are more pros and cons for both.

We are a family of 4 (Me, my wife and 2 very small kids). Looking to purchase in NJ, particularly Wayne.

After doing lots of searching (seeing over 50 properties in past 1 months), I like the fact that townhouses offer younger properties that don't require me to invest another 50k+ for making this place look decent. At the same time, I know that townhouses don't grown in value as much as single family homes do.

Pricing around 350k if townhouse and 450k if it's a single family home.

Thank you.

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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by Call_Me_Op » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:16 am

I think you should ignore the financial aspect of this choice on focus on lifestyle implications. If you detest outside work, the townhouse is for you. If you enjoy it, the "stand-alone house" is a better choice. While you can still hire others to do outside work on the stand-alone house, it is more difficult to find good help because you do not have the leverage of a large complex - plus you have to deal with finding, hiring, firing, etc of workers.
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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by tim1999 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:24 am

In my eyes the risk with a townhouse is that you end up sharing a wall with a bunch of jerks or slobs, and they totally let the place go. Probably less of a risk in NJ with the level prices are at.

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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by b42 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:25 am

I was in a similar situation, although I bought a condo instead of a townhouse. Thankfully I have good neighbors, and the HOA takes care of the exterior. I have spent about 3 hours total doing outside yard work over the last year and I rounded up my time.

I decided that even though the condo wouldn't appreciate as much as a single family home, I would save every year by paying less in property and school taxes and utilities.

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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by jf89 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:41 am

Cherokee8215 wrote:In my eyes the risk with a townhouse is that you end up sharing a wall with a bunch of jerks or slobs, and they totally let the place go. Probably less of a risk in NJ with the level prices are at.
This. As in investing, finding the right place to live is all about calculated risks. I'm willing to risk 80%+ of my portfolio in riskier stocks. I am not willing to risk sharing a wall with a heavy-footed, crappy-music-lover with no job, three dogs, an inability to park his car, and a crazy ex girlfriend with a jealous streak, loud voice, and a temper.

But to each his own.
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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by Nearly A Moose » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:10 am

Townhouses or rowhouses are just fine. I live in one, and it's not my first. Even in my hundred year old house, I hardly ever hear neighbors.

You can always do some looking into how active the HOA is and how tight knit the neighbors seem to be. Also, make sure you eyeball the adjoining townhouses when looking - is there a bunch of junk in the backyard, are things overgrown, can you see inside at all, are there nice curtains/blinds or temporary ones, etc. Or, try to run into the neighbors. You can also try to find an end unit. Only one party wall, lots of light, harder to find, and probably a touch more expensive.

Also, there's nothing quite like leaning over your backyard fence and asking if your neighbor wants to come over for a beer.
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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by NoVa Lurker » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:22 am

We bought a SFH, after considering townhomes. This is in Northern Virginia, just over the river from DC. We had friends in the area who bought new million-dollar townhomes with thousand-dollar HOAs, and we thought they were crazy. Our home was built in 1947 - very cute with a big yard, lots of updates and additions over the years, still needed a lot of work, and was well south of $1m.

With two young kids, I got pretty envious of the people who spent no time on maintenance or yard work and had beautiful kitchens, etc., and more free time to spend with their kids. Most of the time I spent in the yard was doing yardwork, not actually enjoying the yard. The townhome seemed, in retrospect, like it would have been the smarter option.

Fast forward a few more years, and we are very happy in the SFH. Lots of space for the kids to run around -- playing soccer, climbing trees, running through the sprinkler, riding bikes and scooters on our quiet street -- and they actually help with some of the yard chores. I pay for a yard service twice a year now, but I still do the weekly work. We've remodeled the kitchen, replaced the fence, figured out some water issues, and otherwise got the home maintenance under control.

I do think that, if we had bought the townhome, we would have been perfectly happy; but the SFH has ultimately been a good choice for us. It was just more work (and less fun) when the kids were little. Our home has jumped nicely in market value, but the townhomes seem to have gone up in value, too. Anyway, it doesn't matter much right now - we don't plan to move for maybe another 20 years.

One problem with high cost of living areas is that, with transaction costs so high (figure 10% of purchase price, between realtor fees, transfer taxes, and other expenses), it really doesn't make sense to buy a starter home. It would have been nice to have a townhome until the oldest was about 5 years old, then move to a SFH.

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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by stemikger » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:47 am

I made this decision 23 years ago. My wife and I didn't have a lot of money but we wanted to buy a home. I am not handy at all and even back then the single family homes were a lot more and were old and needed a ton of work. I knew my wife would not like living in a house like that for many years until I could save enough to have it in the shape she would have liked it.

So, we made the decision to buy a brand new townhome and it worked out great for us. Now 23 years later, the only issue is we would have liked a bigger yard with a built in pool but like others said, you can get stuck with a neighbor who does not take care of his property and you are attached to them.

We were very lucky all these years that we always had great neighbors, but I could see how that would be an issue if you end up with some bad ones. As far as sharing a wall, I never here my neighbors and the house is very big, in fact, its bigger then the detached house I grew up in.

I am happy with my decision and today, it is worth about $400K in today's market. I bought it for $145K in 1993.

Some townhomes have no backyards, I have a nice size yard with an above ground pool. Some are also are in communities with home owner fees, I do not. We are only in a string of eight. For the record, I live in Staten Island, New York. Where a live, a single family home in my area goes for $550K to $700K.

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Re: Townhouse VS Stand Alone House ?

Post by Meg77 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:58 am

We like our town home. One of the surprising advantages I've noticed is that we seem to get a lot more space for the square footage. What I mean by that is that the town home layout (3 levels plus a rooftop deck) provides for many different areas for my husband and I and our pets (2 cats and 2 dogs) to separate into. We have 2150 SF (plus the roof), but I've been in 4000 SF single family homes that feel more claustrophobic.

Layout trumps square footage when it comes to how to utilize space, and I think many SF homes would have to be much larger to provide for the same feelings of privacy a well designed town home can provide. Many larger SF homes tend to simply have bigger rooms which gives you more air to heat and cool and requires more furniture to fill but doesn't provide for any additional utility. Dividing rooms and spaces up between floors allows for distinct separations without needing to use massive amounts of square footage to delineate it, as might be necessary in a single story SF home.

Maybe that's just my impression, but it's been something I like about our home that I didn't think of before we bought it. Also, not having a yard to mow is pretty great.
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