Townhouses are popular property types for homebuyers, mainly because they’re more affordable than detached homes, especially in city centers. As of July, the median price of townhouses in California is $443,160, compared to $549,460 for single detached homes.
Even after you’ve decided that a townhouse is right for you, you’ll have another decision to make: whether to buy a ‘freehold townhouse’ versus a ‘condo townhouse’.
What’s the difference between the two, and which one better suits your needs and lifestyle?
The term ‘freehold’ simply refers to the amount of freedom and responsibility that you have as a homeowner. If you buy a freehold townhouse, that means you fully own the dwelling, both inside and out.
You are free to decorate as you see fit, and don’t have to follow any rules about what color you can paint your garage door or how to do your landscaping. There are no HOA rules to have to follow, which gives you a lot more liberty with how you use your home.
But along with this freedom comes more responsibility in terms of maintenance of the property. You’re on the hook for any upgrades, repairs, and upkeep of your home. Not only will you have to arrange for such repairs and maintenance, you’ll also have to pay out of pocket for it too.
If there are any issues with the home or neighborhood in general, you won’t have any HOA board to fall back on for support. In addition, freehold townhomes tend to be more expensive than condo townhomes, although there are no condo fees to have to pay each month.
Unlike a freehold townhouse, a condo townhouse means that you exclusively own the interior of your townhome, but the exterior of the building and the land that it sits are collectively owned by you and other owners of the townhouse complex that are part of a condominium corporation. An elected Board of Directors represents all owners and hires a property management company take care of the properties and common areas.
One of the great things about condo townhouses is that you’ll have fewer responsibilities as far as maintenance and repairs are concerned, which is a huge plus for buyers who are looking for a low-maintenance home. In addition, there are typically attractive amenities that owners have private access to in their own areas, such as fitness facilities, tennis courts, or swimming pools.
That said, there are some downsides to owning a condo townhouse. For starters, you will have to pay a monthly fee to the condo corporation in exchange for the maintenance of the properties and repairs that may need to be made.
In addition, you will have rules governed by the condo corporation that you are restricted by. Such guidelines are put into place in order to protect the value of the community and thus protect the investment of each individual owner, which is certainly a good thing. However, these rules can impede on the freedom of owners to decorate as they please or use their properties as they wish.
Freehold Versus Condo Townhouse – Which One is Best For You?
Freehold and condo townhouses can be the perfect type of dwelling for many types of buyers. However, just like any other type of real estate, careful consideration must be made when deciding to purchase one over the other.
Condo townhouses may be ideal for those who are looking for less responsibility for maintenance and like the idea of having private access to various types of amenities, and don’t mind paying the extra monthly fee for such luxuries. They’re also great for buyers who are pretty easy-going about what they can and can’t do to decorate their homes.
On the other hand, buyers who want a little more freedom of ownership and are OK with carrying the burden of responsibility for making repairs and maintaining the property may be better suited for a freehold townhouse.
Either way, it’s essential to work with an experienced real estate agent who will be able to help you make the important decision of whether to purchase one over the other, and can put you in the right direction to purchasing the perfect home for you.