Is it a Condo … or a Townhouse?

By: Betty Smith

Condominiums and townhouses are popular – and it’s easy to see why. They offer many advantages in a variety of price ranges, from starter homes for first-time buyers to luxury models catering to empty nesters.

It can be difficult, however, to know whether a unit is a condo or a townhouse.  The names are often used interchangeably. Adding to the confusion, there are even townhouse condominiums to choose from.

But there are important differences.

First, a little history: A “townhouse” was once the city residence of a noble or wealthy family that would own one or more country houses. The family and their servants would move to the townhouse during the social season, when major balls and other events took place to be closer to the city.

These days, townhouse refers to a style of housing where a row of identical houses share walls. A townhouse typically starts on the ground floor and may be built as a single- or multi-story unit. Townhouses often have at least one separate outside entrance. Basically, if you’re buying a townhouse, you’re buying a home from top to bottom.

Condominiums, on the other hand, describe the style of ownership. Condominiums can include most every housing style from highrise to midrise to patio homes, even townhouses. But it’s quite common for condominiums to be part of a bigger, often multi-story building, with at least one entrance to a common hall or entry area.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a townhouse and a condominium is the condo owner owns the interior of his or her unit – essentially the space they are using. They also jointly share common areas, such as hallways, exercise rooms or pools.  They do not own the land.

Townhouse owners own the interior of their unit, plus the land the unit sits on.

One similarity: Both condominiums and townhouses are usually maintained by a homeowners’ association, which manages and cares for the exterior of the building and common areas.

For more information about condos, townhomes and other properties, contact your Allen Tate Realtor®.

Written Phyllis Brookshire (Senior Vice President)

Courtesy of Allen Tate’s Blog