Should I Buy a Condo or Townhouse?

Posted by Lee and Katherine Keadle on Friday, May 11th, 2018 at 11:00am.

condos versus townhouses

Condos and townhouses are the most affordable options for buying real estate since developers can build more of these per acre compared to detached, single family houses. When we talk with home buyers, they’re often confused about the difference between condos and townhouses. We’ve included below some important distinctions between the two types of property along with a checklist that should help you choose which option is right for you!

Condos: The Lowest Maintenance Home Possible

Many buyers compare condos to apartment living because paying bills is all that’s required. By definition, condos have no individual land ownership associated with them. In other words, a homeowner would own the unit itself. All of the common areas have shared ownership among all the homeowners in the community, and the HOA or regime fee covers the maintenance of these areas and improvements.

Condos are ideal for home buyers wanting as little maintenance as possible. Most Charleston condo communities include grounds maintenance, access to amenities, maintenance of the building’s exterior (such as painting and roofing), and even insurance. All you’d have to do as a condo owner is make sure you pay that HOA or regime fee each month in addition to your mortgage, utility bills, and possibly renters’ insurance (to cover your belongings). Some condos even include water usage.

This low maintenance makes condos perfect for buyers wanting a second home because there’s so little to do between visits. Keep in mind that the property manager’s cost is included in your monthly HOA fee. Your manager also selects which insurance company and plan, meaning that you are not able to shop around for a lower priced option. In general, the ongoing costs of owning a condo are higher compared to townhouses, but as long as you understand this before your purchase, this is the best route for finding a low maintenance lifestyle.

Would buying a condo check off the things that are most important to you?

✓ I want to spend less time keeping up my home so that I can spend more time traveling, being out with friends/family, working, or simply relaxing.
✓ I’m willing to pay an additional cost each month for this convenience.
✓ I do not need or want a yard, but a balcony or screened porch would be perfect.

Townhouses: The Best of Both Worlds

Think of townhouses as a hybrid between condos and houses. A town home shares common walls with neighbors (similar to condos), but these shared boundaries are never above or below the unit. Townhouses will share two walls at most, and the most coveted listings are end units which only share one wall. As real estate agents, we recommend buying end units. Although these will cost more upfront, they tend to sell faster and for a higher price when it comes time to resale.

Townhouses still offer low maintenance living when you compare them to single family homes because there is less land to own and maintain. Townhouse properties are usually recorded with their own tax map number, so the homeowner actually owns the land under the home (unlike a condo owner).

Townhouses are ideal for buyers looking for more privacy since communities generally have designated parking as well as backyard patios or fenced in areas. Dog owners and those looking for a good outdoor entertainment area seek townhouses because these fenced backyards can serve both needs. While some townhouse owners enjoy planting grass, shrubs, or mini gardens in their small backyards, some people opt for a low maintenance landscape. Spreading pinestraw, stones, or mulch in your backyard makes it so that you’ll only need to spend a couple of afternoons a year doing yard work. Search Charleston townhouses for sale!

The last important thing to discuss when comparing condos and townhouses is assessments. In the Charleston SC real estate market, we’ve seen many more condo communities undergo assessments or builder lawsuits compared to townhouse communities. Especially with older developments, it’s crucial to make sure that the HOA has a large enough fund to maintain or replace pools, roofs, windows, etc. as needed so that individual homeowners are not charged thousands of dollars for these projects. Your real estate agent will be able to get the HOA fund details in writing to give peace of mind that the community funds will cover such expenses. Townhouse assessments are extremely rare in our area, but condo buyers especially need to be aware of their local communities to avoid.

Would purchasing a townhouse check off your “must have” items?

✓ I don’t want to have neighbors living above or below my unit.
✓ I need a patio or backyard.
✓ I want to be able to shop around for the most affordable insurance rate, and I’d like to keep my ongoing costs as low as possible.
✓ A single family home would be nice, but I need a more affordable and lower maintenance option.

Looking for a Condo or Townhouse in Charleston?

Whether you’re looking to purchase a condo or townhouse, the Keadle Group at Carolina One Real Estate would love to help you find the perfect home! Use our knowledge and experience of the local market to ensure you’re making the best real estate investment for your future!

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