These days, everyone is looking forward to putting that next notch in The American Dream belt: a house! Most people have the goal of eventually purchasing a primary residence to grow and raise a family in. Or, just to enjoy for themselves and personalize in a way that makes them happy. But not everyone can afford a home right away, especially with the ever-increasing home prices we are seeing. For this reason, a lot of people are opting for a condo or townhouse as their starter home.
This can provide the same feeling of a personal space and ownership, plus it affords the opportunity to build equity so one is not continuing to flush money down the drain via rent payments. But, like anything, buying a condo or townhouse has its pros and cons. Is buying a condo or townhome the right decision for you and/or your family? Keep reading to find out.
What is a Condo?
A condominium (or, condo for short), contrary to popular belief, is not just a fancy apartment. A condo is a building or complex of buildings containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses, and an individual condo is independently owned and able to be bought and sold, therefore is considered to be real estate. With a condo, you actually own the entire complex. That’s right… well, you and the rest of the residents anyway. But it is true that you have partial ownership of the entire place jointly with other members of the Association, which includes the common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.
What is a Townhouse?
Townhomes are conjoined units that usually share at least one or more walls. However, these are usually owned by individual tenants who also own the property on which the unit sits. These units are usually architecturally congruent, meaning they all have the same look and layout, with perhaps some slight variations.
The Advantages and Disadvantages
Now, even though condos and townhomes have different definitions, the pros and cons of each are pretty similar. Now that you know the differences, you can keep that in mind while reading through this pros and cons list. This will not only help you decide on whether to get a condo or townhouse, but will also help inform you if perhaps you shouldn’t get either one at all but instead consider other options that may suit your lifestyle better. Here’s what you need to know:
- Requires less maintenance than a house. Living in a smaller dwelling in general means less work, and by default, less maintenance. So if you are someone who has limited physical abilities, often busy with work, likes to travel, or simply doesn’t want a house that requires a lot of responsibility, then a condo or townhome might be right for you.
- Enhanced security. Condos are often built as a unit inside of a complex, which means it’s likely that there is only one entrance and one exit, and a lot of the time there will be security on the premises. The same is true with townhouses. Though more common with condos, there is also usually a front desk or concierge near the entrance. Not to mention, you are always within close proximity to other people, so you can feel comforted by the knowledge that there is always someone else within reach that you can call for help in an emergency.
- A wealth of amenities. Most townhouse or condo communities offers some pretty attractive amenities. These often include things like a community clubhouse, a fitness center, a swimming pool, well-maintained courtyards, etc. This also opens up a lot of opportunities to socialize and get to know your neighbors.
- It’s affordable. Compared to buying a house, condos and townhouses are significantly cheaper. Since they are designed to be in row houses, an average townhouse or condo in Las Vegas is usually around $150,000 to $200,000, which is slightly lower than an average single-family house. However, prices may also vary depending on where you are living and what state. But as a general rule of thumb, if you are on a tight budget and are looking for a solid place to live and gain equity, then getting a condo or townhouse is a good start.
- Condos or townhomes are good if you want to live in the city. If you are someone who prefers living in the heart of the city and enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown areas then a condo or townhouse is ideal. A lot of these complexes are within or very close to urban areas, so you can walk to work or commute using a bike which can save you money on gas.
- It’s a good investment. As we mentioned before, unlike living in an apartment or renting a house where you’re constantly flushing money away each month in the form of rent payments, when you buy a townhome or condo, you actually become the owner of the property like you would with a house. This means that it is an investment that you put money into every month, and then when you decide it’s time to upgrade or move to a new place, you can get a return on your investment.
- You can make changes to the interior. Since you actually own the unit, you can remodel it how you like. However, your complex may have certain requirements or restrictions, so make sure you clear any changes you want to make with whoever is in charge.
Here are some of the disadvantages of living in a condo or townhouse:
- Lack of privacy. One of the biggest issues with living in a condo or townhouses is that you’re right up next to your neighbors, and sometimes practically on top of them. This is magnified by the fact that you share walls with them, and if the walls are thin you might feel like they’re in the house with you! Also, if you have the misfortune of living with rude neighbors, this can be an added stress on you. Hearing people scream or fight in the middle of the night or loud music blasting through the walls isn’t really one of the best things to experience when you live in a property that is only divided by a wall.
- Less freedom. Though there are a lot of things you can do to customized your townhouse or condo, the Association or HOA may still have restrictions or guidelines that you must follow. If you have big, elaborate plans for how you want to remodel your future home, then you might find it hard to exercise the full extent of your creativity if the community rules are very restrictive.
- Resale value may not be as great. This is because townhouses or condos sometimes lag in the market as they are not the best choice for people with families. So the best thing that you can do is to keep the unit and have it rented out until the value goes back up.
Choosing between buying a more temporary home like a condo or townhouse or to invest in a single-family house can be difficult. With the decline in the market for this type of housing, you definitely need to carefully consider these pros and cons first. However, if you are eager to get a place of your own that you can invest in, then it might not hurt to just go for it. Especially since you can always rent it out while you’re waiting for the market to pick back up again. Either way, always do your research first. Explore as much option as you can and hire a realtor to help you search for the best deals.