Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE VS. TOWNHOUSE VS. CONDO - PART I

When I am working with first time homebuyers, most want to know the advantages and disadvantages of different house types. The decision to buy a condo, townhouse or a traditional single family house is one that takes much consideration. Each brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages. One type may be better suited to your budget and lifestyle than another. Also, depending on your location, you may find more choices of one particular type of home than others.

1. Single Family Homes

By far the most common form of housing, the most important distinguishing factors that determine a single family residence are that it sits on its own piece of land and it is not attached to anyone else's residence. Restrictions about what you can do with your property are primarily dictated by the city in which you live, but for the most part you can do with it as you wish. You will probably have a yard of some sort-from very small up to multiple acres-and your ownership will include all of it. 

Advantages of a SFR
  • You can modify or improve it as you wish
  • Re-sale value is generally the highest on a single family home
  • You can add on to the existing home if more room is needed
  • Generally there are no property management fees as there are in condo and many townhouses 
Disadvantages of a SFR
  • All maintenance and repair costs are your responsibility including electricity, gas, water, sewer and trash removal
  • Lack of amenities (for example, community pools, gym, playgrounds, etc.) that you may find in a condo or townhouse
  • You are responsible for upkeep and landscaping
  • In most areas, SFRs are more expensive
Is a Single Family Residence the Right Fit for You?

You like your own "space"
You like modifying your home, making it your own-changing the color, the appearance, the size.
You like the idea of maintaining your own lawn, and the home's surroundings
You like the idea of being able to build your house

2. Townhouses

A townhouse is a home that is attached to one or more other houses, but which sits directly on a parcel of land that you also own (if you don't own the land, it is a condominium). Townhouses can ranges from duplexes and triplexes all the way through huge townhouse communities consisting of hundreds of similar homes. Townhouses to some degree offer attributes of both SFRs and condominiums. 

There is a good degree of variance in the way townhouse communities are structured. It may be a simple agreement (as is often the case of duplexes and triplexes) that each parcel of land and the home that sits on it is separately owned. In the case of larger townhouse communities, you will generally have an additional shared ownership in the common areas of the complex as well as any amenities such as swimming pools, park areas, etc. This ownership you will share jointly with all other townhouse owners in the complex. 

In any townhouse purchase that involves an Homeowners' Association
, it is critically important to get as much information as you can, since the association can have a considerable impact on your ownership experience! (we'll explore Homeowners' Associations in a later post)


Advantages of a Townhouse
  • Less exterior maintenance and repairs
  • There may be amenities in the community such as pools, tennis courts, playground, etc.
  • Sharing common walls with neighbors may bring a greater sense of security
Disadvantages of a Townhouse
  • You are responsible for Home Owner's Association fees (which cover common areas and other "perks" of community living)
  • Your options for changing the exterior look of your house will be limited
  • Sharing common walls with your neighbors, you give up privacy as compared to SFRs
Is a Townhouse the Right Fit for You?

You like your own "space" but not having to deal with all of the exterior maintenance
You don't mind having neighbors close to you.
You like the idea of a small yard 

3. Condominiums

Condominium ownership is basically an apartment you own (in fact, many condominiums are apartments that have been converted over the years). Your ownership extends inward from your interior walls, floors and ceilings. In addition, you are a partner, with all of the other owners in the complex, of the exterior structure (the foundation, exterior walls and roof) as well as any common areas and amenities (for example, swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, play areas, etc.) One of the requirements of condominium ownership is the payment of a monthly condo fee, which covers general repairs and maintenance to the common areas of the complex as well as (hopefully) build up a cash reserve for future needs. In general, all exterior maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the condominium association, although you will be charged for them, either through your association dues or a special assessment (a one time charge assessed to all owners for, as an example, a new roof). The normal day-to-day maintenance of the grounds (some examples are cutting the grass and maintaining the pool) are also the responsibility of the association. Interior maintenance and repairs (for example, replacing a dishwasher) are the responsibility of the individual owner. 

In some areas, a condominium may be the only consideration that fits within your budget. The reason for this is simple. In general, the same square footage will cost less in a condo setting than it will in a single family home or townhouse, due mainly to land cost--you can build many more condos than you can single family homes on the same amount of land. 

Advantages of a Condominium
  • Little or no exterior maintenance or repairs
  • Many condo communities offer amenities such as pools, tennis courts, playground, etc. 
  • Condos are often more reasonably priced and are good entry level homes for first-time homebuyers or excellent for empty-nesters looking to downsize 
Disadvantages of a Condominium
  • You are responsible for Home Owner's Association fees Less privacy
  • Resale of a condo is harder and often takes longer to sell  
Is a Condominium the Right Fit for You?

You do not want to do any exterior maintenance or repairs
You like the idea of amenities
You don't mind having neighbors close to you.

All three forms of ownership are good options...it's a matter of finding the best fit for you. A house gives you more independence, but also greater responsibility. A condo or townhouse has the security of more regular expenses and freedom from maintenance and repairs.

Happy House Hunting!



9 comments:

  1. Maybe condominium is the best home for me as I live alone and I don't mind living with close neighbors. I can find a soundproof condo near Greenhills.

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  2. I never really considered moving into a condo, but after reading this, I might want to look into it. It would definitely be nice to have some of the amenities condos offer. It's also nice that you don't have to worry about outdoor maintenance. Do you think it's better to get a condo, or splurge and actually find a house?
    http://rentersguide.ca/neighbourhoods/calgary-mckenzie-towne/31488

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  3. If your work is in the City or Metro, condos are good for you. Why? Because most condos are located near the business center, mall, school, etc. You may try Admiral Baysuites if you are around Manila Bay.

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  4. email blast to tenants

    Free Parking Software for Town Houses, Condominiums, and Businesses Solves Parking Problems
    Searching for a parking space is such as frustrating routine activity for lots of people in cities all over the world. This search is burning over a million barrels of oil of the world each day. There are also 4-parking spaces every vehicle in the US and almost all streets are most of the time, empty, which leads to urban environments that are ironically doing far more to accommodate the vehicles than people. As the global population continuously urbanize, without a convenience-driven and well-planned retreat from cars, these sort of parking problems will worsen.
    http://webparkingsoftware.com software is the first step in the right decision. It involves using low-cost sensors, mobile phone-enabled, and real time data collection automated payment systems enabling people to reserve parking in advance or predict accurately where they can find a spot. When deployed as a system, free parking software thereby reduces car emissions in the urban centers by means of reducing the necessity for the people to circle the city blocks needlessly searching for parking. Furthermore, it permits the cities to manage their parking supply carefully.
    This free parking software is now being developed in many different states and cities around the United States and some other countries. For instance, in LA, smart meters and low-power sensors are tracking the occupancy of parking spaces across the Hollywood district, one of the most congested areas. The users will be able to access this occupancy data in order to determine the availability of the spots and then pay for them with their mobile phones. Other than the environmental benefits and lending convenience, free parking software is improving the utilization of the current parking, which lead to greater revenue for parking owners.
    These programs will be able to make great differences on a neighborhood level, but more widespread development and deployment is necessary for free parking software to change the cities and to contribute to the transportation sector pollution reductions greenhouse gas. One problem is that there are no citywide solutions all over the fragmented private and public parking providers. The occupancy data has a tendency to have many owners and is not accessible or standardized in a way that may enable software developers to turn into user-friendly applications. Thereby, individual smart parking efforts are so far successful locally, but uncoordinated, and operates in their own entrepreneurial or bureaucratic vacuums without a need to take gap between current free parking software and more widespread transportation system planning is an enormous missed opportunity for the cities to reduce the transportation related emissions.
    Moreover, free parking software has been hindered by a lack of insight into the complete benefits of this software, specifically when compared to the cost of building extra parking spaces. Lack of collaboration between communities with the parking software programs, as well as lack of coordination between hardware providers, municipalities, and developers is also contributing to the slower adoption of smart parking. Nevertheless, it is possible to overcome all these issues. Cities will be able further accelerate these advantages by means of updating the land use and building codes policies to reflect the reduced need for parking.

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  5. Ughh..I think I'll just keep renting.

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  6. Ughh..I think I'll just keep renting.

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  7. I think it comes down to personal preference. Renting is okay but then so is buying so really, it is entirely up to the person and what ever part of their life they're in. Thanks for sharing.

    Jasmine V | Belgravia Group

    ReplyDelete