Posted 31 Oct, 2019
Which Is Better For You, A Condo Or Townhome?
If you’re thinking of buying a townhouse or a condominium, there are some important differences between the two that you should know about. We’ve put together a comparison to help you make a more informed decision before you buy.
The townhouse versus condo dilemma often begins with the question, “what is the difference between a townhouse and a condo?”. There are subtle but substantial distinctions that may mean the difference between living happily in a dream home or discovering that your home does not satisfy all the needs you thought it would.
What’s The Definition of a Condo and a Townhome?
Let’s begin by defining the terms ‘townhouse’ and ‘condo’ and the difference that would mean to you.
The definition of a townhouse is a multi-storey home similar to a single-family dwelling while being part of a multi-unit complex whose walls border neighbouring units, i.e. conjoined units that are owned by individual tenants. The living quarters (kitchen, living room, dining room etc) are usually on the bottom floor while bedrooms and bathrooms are on top floors.
With a condo property, you own your unit and share ownership of the common areas with other unit owners. Common elements can include exterior walls, windows, gardens, driveways, hallways, elevators, lobbies and social areas. The condominium corporation is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the common property and all unit owners pay a monthly condominium fee toward upkeep. The corporation may also regulate the types of changes you can make to your unit.
What’s the Differences Between the Two?
How does ownership differ?
There are three types of homeownership. Freehold, where you own the building and the land on which it rests and are responsible for the costs and maintenance of the building but you have the right to make any changes to the structure or land you desire. This is a typical single-family home scenario.
Strata ownership is typical of condo ownership. You own your unit and share ownership of the common areas (exterior walls, windows, gardens, driveways, hallways, elevators, lobbies and social areas) for which you pay a monthly maintenance fee toward upkeep. Urban North’s Stacked Towns and Back to Back towns have a strata ownership structure.
With a freehold condominium, you own the plot of land and any structure on the land and are responsible for the care and upkeep of the house, including exterior walls and roof, as well as the lawn, garden, driveway and garage. Common property elements include access roads to the units, recreational facilities, visitor parking and parks with a playground. These areas are typically the responsibility of the condominium corporation and all units pay a monthly fee toward their upkeep. Urban North’s Executive Towns are freehold condominium scenarios.
Are the communities similar?
Condominiums usually have a community focus and a number of amenities (like function rooms, swimming pools or gymnasium). Some townhome communities offer the same types of amenities but others are more private.
Which has higher monthly fees?
Condominium corporation fees are typically higher because owners pay for exterior upkeep. Townhome owners pay lower monthly fees because they pay for much of their own unit’s upkeep.
Is the same kind of insurance cover needed for both?
Typically higher for townhomes since owners need to protect both the interior and exterior while condo owners are only responsible for the interior of their unit. Condo owners also pay insurance to cover the common areas and this is included in their condo fees.
Is there a large difference in size?
Although condos come in a variety of sizes, they are generally smaller than townhomes which can be quite large and feature multiple stories. The executive townhomes in Urban North also have a backyard, a feature most condos do not have.
What about storage?
Most condos have lockers for residents to store their stuff. But townhomes have a garage that can store so much more. In fine Canadian tradition, your Urban North townhome has the space you need to store your bikes, your skis and your paddleboards in your garage, while the car lives in your driveway.
Which is the most affordable?
If affordability is a major factor in your home buying decision, both condos and townhomes are great alternatives to single family homes. They are both often less expensive with regards to the initial investment as well as monthly payments, even when factoring in various maintenance fees and insurance.
How are my rights different?
A townhouse owner has more rights and can make changes to his (or her) property. The Townhouse owner has the liberty to change the exterior and interior space, whereas the condo owners have limited rights. Condo unit owners’ rights are limited to the interior space of their unit, and any modifications are still subject to approvals by the condo administration.
Bottom line, which retains the most value?
A well-maintained townhouse or condo can give an owner the leverage they need when selling their unit, reducing the amount of time the property sits on the market. A successful community is also key to holding value during an economic downturn. Historically, houses in Canada tend to gain more value over time than condos.
How Do You Make A Decision Between Them?
Condos and townhouses share so many similarities that the smallest differences can become defining factors. The biggest personal factor to consider when weighing a townhouse versus a condo is you. Your influence can help make a community successful. Whether you serve on the board, contribute to your community, or are a vocal and well-informed resident, you influence your community experience.
It all comes down to choosing the lifestyle you wish to lead.