House vs Condo vs Townhouse

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RRAAYY3
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House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by RRAAYY3 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am

1. i don't find enjoyment in landscaping / housework. I value my free time - which can include the gym/hiking/snowboarding, not physical labor.
2. Condo/Townhouse prices in my area are significantly lower than Homes generally
3. What other factors come into play that would make a House/Condo/Townhouse a better choice if/when choosing to buy a property ?

totallystudly
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by totallystudly » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:39 am

Hoa costs, rules, and benefits are the first that spring to mind for condos and townhomes.

Yiewsley
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by Yiewsley » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:48 am

If (probably when) I buy a condo or townhouse vs a house:
  • As few shared walls with other units as possible.
  • Assigned parking next to the unit or a garage that is attached.
  • Reasonable amount of visitor parking.
  • If there is no cross flow of air, that it's facing a good direction depending on the climate (like here in Denver, west facing condos that back onto another unit get unbearably hot).

caffeinefree
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by caffeinefree » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:53 am

As totallystudly mentioned, HOA fees/rules could be one negative to a condo or townhouse.

Another could be neighbors. Remember that most condos and townhouses, you will be sharing walls with your neighbors. In that way, it's more like apartment living, but if you have a bad neighbor (loud music/TV, parties, barking dogs, crying babies, etc.) it's a lot harder to move to a new place! One anecdote I have from townhouse living was when I had elderly, nearly deaf neighbors who liked to listen to the TV while they slept (without their hearing aids in, of course). I spent more than one sleepless night trying to find any room in the house where I wasn't listening to late-night infomercials through the walls!

One potential positive of a townhouse or condo could be community facilities, like a pool/gym/clubhouse. But these days many suburban housing communities with HOAs offer the same thing even if you buy a house.

I also hate yard work and it's a big reason why I sold my previous house and moved back into an apartment. But if I were to buy a house again, I would look for a small house with a small yard and just hire someone to cut the grass for me. Cost wise hiring someone to do yard work should be a wash - after all, at a condo/townhouse, you're still paying for that service, just through your HOA fees.

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alpenglow
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by alpenglow » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:57 am

Be aware of the financial stability of the condo complex and special assessments that may be made for repairs.

nova1968
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by nova1968 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:02 am

If you owned a house you could hire out yard work for much less than HOA fees and assessments and you would be able to enjoy having your own space
Last edited by nova1968 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

littlebird
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by littlebird » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:16 am

nova1968 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:02 am
If you owned a house you could hire out yard word for much less than HOA fees and assessments and you would be able to enjoy having your own space
Yes, I'm sure "you could hire out yard word (sic) for much less than HOA fees and assessments", because fees and assessments cover much more than yard work. In various condos and co-ops I have lived in, such fees and assessments have covered, among other items, new roof, outside painting, heat, hot water, electricity, cable TV, security system and guard service, new landscaping, trash pickup, and extensive recreational activities, many of which items came with discounts for bulk purchase by the entire housing block. :oops:

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Sandtrap
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:17 am

RRAAYY3 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am
1. i don't find enjoyment in landscaping / housework. I value my free time - which can include the gym/hiking/snowboarding, not physical labor.
2. Condo/Townhouse prices in my area are significantly lower than Homes generally
3. What other factors come into play that would make a House/Condo/Townhouse a better choice if/when choosing to buy a property ?
CONDO -PROS
Exterior Upkeep: zero
Freedom: able to lock it up and leave for weeks, months.
Neighbors
Amenities
Price
House Rules, CCR's, HOA (everyone behaves, normally)
Known annual costs
Safety: depending on unit/bldg/area.

CONDO - CONS
Claustrophobic, space.
Restrictions on what can be done in or around unit, improvements, etc.
House Rules, CCR's, HOA.
Neighbors
Noise
Busy

SFH is the opposite.
Though in a development there may be HOA's, CCR's, etc.
Though there can also be good and awkward neighbors

Townhouse may be a hybrid of both depending on development and area location.

There are specifics. IE: A great Townhouse in a lousy area or with a lousy neighbor or vs vs. A perfect SFH dream house in a bad neighborhood. Or a junky home with wonderful neighbors in a great area of town. Many folks in Hawaii compromise living space and dwelling quality to be on the ocean. Others would rather have a McMansion in a ULCOL state and area.

Sometimes it's good to approach these types of things as also filling a need at a different stage of life or lifestyle. It's not permanent.
Actionably: None are irreversible. All can be rented to try (like a rental car) before committing to buy. If renting is not feasible, try a VRBO or AIR BnB for an even shorter period of time. So, try all of them.

aloha
j :D

randomguy
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by randomguy » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:27 am

caffeinefree wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:53 am
As totallystudly mentioned, HOA fees/rules could be one negative to a condo or townhouse.

Another could be neighbors. Remember that most condos and townhouses, you will be sharing walls with your neighbors. In that way, it's more like apartment living, but if you have a bad neighbor (loud music/TV, parties, barking dogs, crying babies, etc.) it's a lot harder to move to a new place! One anecdote I have from townhouse living was when I had elderly, nearly deaf neighbors who liked to listen to the TV while they slept (without their hearing aids in, of course). I spent more than one sleepless night trying to find any room in the house where I wasn't listening to late-night infomercials through the walls!

One potential positive of a townhouse or condo could be community facilities, like a pool/gym/clubhouse. But these days many suburban housing communities with HOAs offer the same thing even if you buy a house.

I also hate yard work and it's a big reason why I sold my previous house and moved back into an apartment. But if I were to buy a house again, I would look for a small house with a small yard and just hire someone to cut the grass for me. Cost wise hiring someone to do yard work should be a wash - after all, at a condo/townhouse, you're still paying for that service, just through your HOA fees.
Bad neighbors is a matter of degree. Unless you have couple of acres, you will still deal with them in a house. Dogs, pool parties, burning trash, noisy kids, power tools, and so on. Condo/Townhouses do get the shared walls which factors in the quality of building. In a good building, things have to be really loud to affect you. In the poor quality buildings you have things like footsteps disturbing people.

alex_686
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by alex_686 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:32 am

RRAAYY3 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am
2. Condo/Townhouse prices in my area are significantly lower than Homes generally
That is because Condo / Townhouses tend to be cheaper. Less land, which can be a plus or minus. Less privacy. But most importantly, fewer square feet, they tend to have lower amenities, etc. Hard to make a apples to apples comparison.

Nothing wrong with condo / townhouse verse a home. I have lived and owned all 3. Different stages of life call for different things.

For things with associations it is good to review the documents. By-laws, annual report, and reserve study.

stan1
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by stan1 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:41 am

It really is a personal preference but you can select a condo or townhouse that is very well located, has good natural light, solid walls with neighbors, no residence above, and an overall look and feel to the layout that doesn't feel like an apartment. Condos and townhouses like that will hold their value better and will stand out from dozens or hundreds of condo units for sale at a given time lacking those attributes.

Another idea is a detached single family patio home. That's what we've chosen. We do have a HOA but each owner is responsible for the exterior of their own residence. The HOA maintains fences, gates, driveways, and common front yard landscaping.

Its not just about hiring someone to care for a yard. What's the point of having it if you don't use it?

wrongfunds
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by wrongfunds » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:56 am

The "issues with neighbor" become extremely difficult with TH vs SFH. Either will make your life miserable but with TH, it will be lot worse.

Also overall TH (or an apartment) takes a bigger hit in a downmarket that SFH on the percentage basis. That was my experience in New England are during last couple of recessions.

Most of the newer development of SFH do have something similar to HOA but usually they are NOT as restrictive as HOA comprising solely TH.

THY4373
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by THY4373 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:53 pm

For condos I would avoid those that are wood framed (built the same way as SFH). In Virginia where I live pretty much any Condo/Apartment that is four stories (maybe five) and below is built this way. The sound transmission between floors can be quite high as compared to those that use concrete. That was my biggest complaint in the condo I owned years ago. Obviously if you are on the top floor this is really not much of an issue.

student
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by student » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:54 pm

I live in a condo and I can confirm the pros and cons other have mentioned. To me, an ideal place would be detached condos. Unfortunately, they are quite costly around her so I have not moved yet.

runner3081
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by runner3081 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:57 pm

littlebird wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:16 am
nova1968 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:02 am
If you owned a house you could hire out yard word for much less than HOA fees and assessments and you would be able to enjoy having your own space
Yes, I'm sure "you could hire out yard word (sic) for much less than HOA fees and assessments", because fees and assessments cover much more than yard work. In various condos and co-ops I have lived in, such fees and assessments have covered, among other items, new roof, outside painting, heat, hot water, electricity, cable TV, security system and guard service, new landscaping, trash pickup, and extensive recreational activities, many of which items came with discounts for bulk purchase by the entire housing block. :oops:
HOA dues are your money anyways... I would much prefer to choose how much to spend and who does the work on my own, then letting what is likely an incompetent board spend my money.

chevca
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by chevca » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:07 pm

RRAAYY3 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am
1. i don't find enjoyment in landscaping / housework. I value my free time - which can include the gym/hiking/snowboarding, not physical labor.
2. Condo/Townhouse prices in my area are significantly lower than Homes generally
I'm not sure what you're asking, since the condo or TH sounds about ideal for you. A better question might be, what could possibly persuade you to buy a SFH? What one pro would be enough to sway you to buy something more expensive that you don't want to work on?

beardsworth
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by beardsworth » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:11 pm

Some say that a townhome or condo is the best of both worlds, because you have fewer responsibilities than with a detached home, but you still own the property and can redecorate or upgrade the interior as you wish.

Some way that a townhome or condo is the worst of both worlds, because you have the financial obligations of home ownership but can still be made miserable by the parties, music, arguments, and sex lives of inconsiderate neighbors on the other side of a wall or ceiling.

And this goes both ways: We have a piano, and a substantial audio system, and just as we wouldn't want to hear the neighbors, we also wouldn't want to bother the neighbors.

If there were such a thing as a thoroughly soundproofed townhome or condo, we'd be very drawn to that lifestyle. But most townhomes and condos are built in the same way as rental apartments, and with similar implications for peace and privacy. And my wife also has a home business with equipment requiring a certain amount of space, which does not lend itself to fitting into a standard extra bedroom. So I think we're destined to stay in a detached house.

HOAs don't really bother me, as long as they behave reasonably, by which I mean maintaining standards in a fair and consistent way that doesn't show favoritism to one homeowner over another, but that's not the same thing as letting everybody do whatever they want. There was a period of time when I thought our own HOA board was not behaving fairly, and was micro-managing some homeowners but not others, so some other like-minded people and I ran for board positions and got elected. Things improved.

chevca
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by chevca » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:21 pm

Many modern SFH neighborhoods have HOAs nowadays too. I don't know that, that factors in all that much. Although, from what I gather the condo/TH HOAs tend to be more spendy and have a lot more pull on decisions like renovations, or roofing, or whatever. I'm not sure though, never dealt with that. I have dealt with SFH HOAs and as longs as you keep the lawn mowed, move the garbage cans in, and don't paint your house pink they pretty much leave you alone.

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MnyGrl
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by MnyGrl » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:24 pm

Where I live, many of the most desirable areas that are close to the subway and lots of things to do don't have many detached houses (or they cost 800K +). I bought an older townhouse in one of these areas and love it. The keys to my happiness:

1) All-brick construction - really minimizes the noise. I rarely hear anything from neighbors.
2) Very low HOA fees, and non-invasive HOA. A little over $100/month gets me a ton of services plus two pools for my kids.
3) Backyard space and a patio, but not so much that it takes more than 10 minutes of maintenance every few weeks.

Maybe when I retire I'll move out farther, but maybe not. :D

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Pajamas
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by Pajamas » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:30 pm

nova1968 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:02 am
If you owned a house you could hire out yard work for much less than HOA fees and assessments and you would be able to enjoy having your own space
No, it's generally more efficient and less expensive for ongoing maintenance and repairs to be done as part of a group rather than individually.

kenoryan
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by kenoryan » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:36 pm

For retirees, I think there might be more of a sense of security in a condo or townhome. Plus you can lock up and leave when you go away on travels.

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friar1610
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by friar1610 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:07 pm

alpenglow wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:57 am
Be aware of the financial stability of the condo complex and special assessments that may be made for repairs.
Look for a condo whose trust maintains an adequate reserve fund and includes a sufficient contribution to it as part of your monthly fee. This can avoid or minimize special assessments.
Friar1610

rgs92
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by rgs92 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:13 pm

Risks of multifamily housing you cannot control:

Noise, unpleasant cooking aromas, fires or flooding started by neighbors, neighbors complaining about your noise or cooking, unfriendly/intolerant/annoying/strange neighbors, too-friendly neighbors, lonely neighbors.

There are, of course, good aspects to neighbors, but it's a gamble that you'll get someone you will like.

It's worth hiring someone to do your lawn or exterior work or snowplowing. These days there are Uber-like services for this.
There really isn't much work to do if you hire people.
Last edited by rgs92 on Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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alpenglow
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by alpenglow » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:17 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:13 pm
Risks of multifamily housing you cannot control:

Noise, unpleasant cooking aromas, fires or flooding started by neighbors, neighbors complaining about your noise or cooking, unfriendly/intolerant/annoyingstrange neighbors, too-friendly neighbors, lonely neighbors.
How about attractive, lonely neighbors?! :wink:

rgs92
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by rgs92 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:19 pm

Well, that's certainly a thought. (But that could lead to even a larger nightmare you know...)
And there is always Ned Flanders.

tylerherman
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by tylerherman » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:28 pm

like others have mentioned hiring a lawn person is cheaper than an HOA. There are also minimal lawn houses out there, especially in bigger cities. Or go with some other low maintenance options. House is always going to appreciate more than the other 2 options but if you don’t care about that, the shared walls would be the only other concern.

wstrdg
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by wstrdg » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:43 pm

HOA Board drama: sometimes you have a rational Board and sometimes you don't . . .

barnaclebob
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:51 pm

I don't like that with a condo you essentially just own the right to occupy some airspace vs a physical structure and land that you have near total control over.
Last edited by barnaclebob on Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sdsailing
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by sdsailing » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:06 pm

Condos present a significant financial risk. You can wake up to find an assessment of tens of thousands and up.

raisinsaregrapes
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by raisinsaregrapes » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:06 pm

I like having a house, sometimes it's just nice sitting outside. Having good neighbors will be the trump card to any option; a good friend next door is priceless.

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MnyGrl
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by MnyGrl » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:44 pm

alpenglow wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:17 pm
rgs92 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:13 pm
Risks of multifamily housing you cannot control:

Noise, unpleasant cooking aromas, fires or flooding started by neighbors, neighbors complaining about your noise or cooking, unfriendly/intolerant/annoyingstrange neighbors, too-friendly neighbors, lonely neighbors.
How about attractive, lonely neighbors?! :wink:
Hahahaha!

Sounds like a marketing campaign:

"Shared communities: we share....everything"

cherijoh
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Re: HOUSE vs CONDO vs TOWNHOUSE

Post by cherijoh » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:50 pm

alpenglow wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:57 am
Be aware of the financial stability of the condo complex and special assessments that may be made for repairs.
+1

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Top99%
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by Top99% » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:20 pm

We live in an end unit 1 story town home with an attached 2 car garage. Ideally we would have like an equivalent sized house with a <6000 square foot yard but in the end the 3 Ls (location, location, location) won out. All the detached homes in our location were either too old, had too big of yards or were either too big or too expensive. And we *love* our location. Once you factor in watering costs, insurance costs (HOA covers the exterior), painting every 7-8 years etc the HOA costs often don't look as daunting.
Adapt or perish

alex_686
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by alex_686 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:45 pm

sdsailing wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:06 pm
Condos present a significant financial risk. You can wake up to find an assessment of tens of thousands and up.
Houses present a significant finical risk. You can wake up with a leaky roof and find yourself on the hook for thousands and up.

Any ownership structure is going to have issues. Professional management verse independent and control. Incompetent board or incompetent contractor.

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Watty
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by Watty » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:49 pm

RRAAYY3 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 am
3. What other factors come into play that would make a House/Condo/Townhouse a better choice if/when choosing to buy a property ?
Typically a condo or townhouse complex will have a restriction on the number of rental units because future buyers cannot get a conventional mortgage if too high a percentage of the units are rented. You may not plan on ever renting it but your situation can change and many people became accidental landlords when they did not want to sell their property during the 2008 housing crash.

Some people also found that they could not rent a condo they owed because of the rule about the percentage of rental units.

Some houses with a HOA may also have rental restrictions so you should also look into that.

Be sure to understand what insurance the condo has for earthquakes and hurricanes if you are in an area where that is an issue. Sometimes they might not have that coverage.

RRAAYY3
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by RRAAYY3 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:34 am

Thank you all; Very helpful as always

Rent vs Buy still says rent needs to almost double for me to buy, but I like getting my ducks all in a row beforehand

stoptothink
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Re: House vs Condo vs Townhouse

Post by stoptothink » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:50 am

Top99% wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:20 pm
We live in an end unit 1 story town home with an attached 2 car garage. Ideally we would have like an equivalent sized house with a <6000 square foot yard but in the end the 3 Ls (location, location, location) won out. All the detached homes in our location were either too old, had too big of yards or were either too big or too expensive. And we *love* our location. Once you factor in watering costs, insurance costs (HOA covers the exterior), painting every 7-8 years etc the HOA costs often don't look as daunting.
Exact same situation. There is literally no SFH homes within walking distance of my office and I was deadset on commuting via my two feet. Our end unit, 2-car garage townhome has been great and I honestly have no want for something more. I think we may have heard our neighbor's alarm once, otherwise, zero concerns. While we thought we may like a yard of our own, having a community pool, three playgrounds, and not having to spend a second maintaining them has been great.

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