townhome or single family home

scraphappyFebruary 9, 2012

I'm planning to sell my present home in the coming year, and thought I'd like a townhome - no yard work being the main reason. Soneone mentioned that a single-family home would be less expensive to maintain, even considering the cost of having yard work and snow removal hired out. Now I'm wondering - pros and cons of owning a townhome? Any advice?

(I'm also hoping to get into a one-story house with bigger closets with this move.)

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I think it all depends on the townhouse and the single-family home in question. We lived in a great townhouse a few years back that had a better layout, more room and was definitely cheaper to maintain. But if your heart is set on one floor living, you're not going to be happy with a townhouse.

They're less common, but there are also such things as semi-detached or detached one floor condos, at least in my region.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 3:48PM
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I am looking at a 4 plex...all handicapped accessible...about 1200 SF... I need to down-size due to the resent death of my DH and this house is 4090 SF and not only is it too big for me to ramble around in, I need to closer to family. The taxes here are $4500 + $2000 insurance a year.

The unit is $224.00 a mo HOA fees, but that includes all of the taxes, insurance, lawn care, snow removal and dues.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Phoggie - My deepest sympathy to you - I've been a widow for 3 years. It's just time as I age, to get out of this older house with a flight of stairs up and down, and more room than I need now.

I guess if the HOA fees might include taxes and insurance it might balance everything out better. My friend's remark just made me doubt my decision. Never lived in a condo or townhome, so it will be a new experience for me.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Townhome/Condo living has its positives and negatives, jut like any other kind of home. As a plus, you are close to your neighbors and they can look out for you. This can also be a negative if your neighbors are loud, nosey, or keep different hours than you. Another plus: little to no outside yard work. Minus: CCR's can be very restrictive. HOA fees can skyrocket and assessments can be scary. Unless you are in a highly desirable area, they can be very hard to sell.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 5:07PM
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I think it's pretty unusual for townhouse maintenance fees to include taxes, at least around here. In this part of the world they're usually fee simple ownership, so each owner pays their own taxes, just like in a condo, and the maintenance would only cover the tax bill on the common areas. The association fee usually covers the master insurance policy, but you're still responsible for insuring the contents.

Phoggie sounds like she found an unusual situation--she deserves a break, so I'm glad for her.

However, one thing that is usually included is water. Also basic cable or whatever, and in urban areas sometimes internet access, too.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 6:24PM
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Make sure you investigate exterior maintenance.

Not all townhouses are "no yard work," and the ones that provide yard work will have higher monthly 'association' dues.

There is no free lunch.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:38AM
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I just sold my townhouse in the DC area. The difference between a townhouse and a condo is the type of ownership: with a townhouse, you own 100% of both the interior and the exterior; that is, you own the sky above, the ground below, and the entirety of the walls, roof, etc. With a condo, you own 100% of the interior, but only 1/x% of the exterior. For example, if the condo complex has 20 units, you own 1/20 of the exterior of your unit--and also of everyone else's unit. And your neighbors each own 1/20 of your unit.

With my townhouse, I was fully responsible for my (tiny) front and back yards; homeowner's insurance; maintenance to the house; all utilities, etc. It was just the same as owning a detached home--except of course, that I was attached to my neighbors. The HOA fees paid for maintenance of the common grounds (that ended at my property line) and the community amenities (pools, boat access, etc).

If you truly want to have no yard work, I would recommend that you check the HOA covenants very carefully and make sure what their fees cover--as I said, I had to do the yard work at my townhouse (which was okay, since I love gardening--and I liked the fact that everyone's yards were unique); whereas, the block of condos down the street had gardeners do the yardwork--but they couldn't plant any flowers, or anything else.

Oh, and there are single-story townhouses, as well as detached townhouses and condos.

Hope this information is of some use.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 10:52AM
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There are many variations on this, timaran. My townhouse complex--you own your unit and the ground beneath it, but the association maintains the exterior of the building and the common areas. You have freedom to plant whatever you want on your patio, or to paint or resurface it if you want, but if one of your balconies needs rebar work or the roof needs repair, that's done by the association.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:55AM
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We rented a townhouse in NY for 2 years. It was the same as Timaran explained except the montly charges included ground maintenance. The owner paid $8,000 a year in taxes and $850.00 a month for maintenance which included the grounds and roads, driveways, lighting, well/septic. All the units were on a common well, septic and the maintenance included servicing that as well.

You own a townhouse completely. You are responsible for all repairs of the structure, in and out. While we rented, the hot-water heater broke and the owner had to have it replaced. He was responsible for everything.

We like townhouses because you get a lot of room. However, the living space was on 3 levels, so a lot of stair climbing. There were no rules about plantings, we could do whatever we wanted as long as it didn't block common areas.

I would recommend a corner unit (which we had) as you only have one neighbor on that side and you have windows on both exposures. I would not live in an interior unit because of light.

Condos are a different story. You only own the interior and the HOA is tighter with more rules.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Thanks for all the helpful replies! It's given me alot to consider. I'll know what questions to ask when I start the process.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 2:33PM
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>The owner paid $8,000 a year in taxes and $850.00 a month for maintenance which included the grounds and roads, driveways, lighting, well/septic.

In FL, I pay about $900 in taxes and $330 a month in maintenance (higher because I'm on a barrier island, so the insurance is a big chunk of that--also we have our own water plant, since there were no utilities out here when this place was built). Conchita, who also posts here, is looking at a townhouse on the mainland near here where the maintenance is $470 a quarter and her taxes would be about $500 to $600. There are townhouses in all different price ranges.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 3:39PM
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