What’s a condo? What’s a townhouse?

I think that when people think of condos and townhouses they are usually thinking of a style of construction. Townhouses are usually side-by-side without a neighbor above or below. Yes, that is common with townhouses, but there is more to it than that.

With a townhouse, you own the land below. Different home owner’s associations have different binding terms, but as a generalization, the HOA will take care of exterior mainenance and maintence of the common areas. But you usually have a small yard that you get to landscape and maintain. This also means that if something goes wrong in the crawlspace below , the homeowner is responsible. It also means that the home owner takes care of the plumbing even after it leaves the house.

With condominiums you don’t personally own the land beneath your home. Instead your home owner’s association owns it. You own the interior walls, and your HOA owns the exterior walls. It also owns and is responsible for plumbing once it leaves your unit. So with a condo, the HOA takes on more responsibilites.

How do you know the difference? It should be properly represented in the marketing, but if it’s a condo, it’s also in the legal description.

Both types of real estate have home owner’s associaitons. When you buy either a condo or a townhouse you need to thoroughly inspect the home owner’s association. You want to get copies of their rules and regulations, conditions covenants and restrictions, the reserve study (to show that they are properly saving for big ticket repair items likes roofs and windows) and get the last 12 months of the HOA meeting notes. If something is up, they should be talking about it.

So that’s a little real estate 101. As always, thanks for reading the blotter!


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