Buying a Town house: What You Should Know Before You Buy One

Town home is a hybrid between a condominium and a single family house. It is similar to a condominium because townhomes are usually clustered together to create a community with common areas like swimming pools, playgrounds, gated community, etc. Thus, requires a governing body called the Home Owner’s Association. On the other hand, it is similar to a single family home because it comprise both of a building structure and the land it sits on. However, townhomes usually sit on a very small parcel  of land. Thus, townhomes have smaller backyard and front yard than single family homes.  Town homes have a small patio and are usually closer to each other.


Home Owners Association
The homeowners association is the one responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the area. On most town homes, the maintenance of the front yard and other external area of your home are taken care of by the HOA. In addition, you can resolve dispute or file complaints to your neighbors to the HOA without confronting your neighbor directly.

Living Amenities
Townhome communities may include amenities such as swimming pools, club room, gated community, gym, playground, etc. It’s like joining a club but without leaving your community. You do not have to worry about the maintenance because everything is taken care of by your home owner’s association.

Some townhomes are probably in a gated community and requires visitor to call the owner first before they can come in. We all know that they can still get in just waiting for a resident to come in and tailgate them. So, this may be a false security but at least it does deter somebody from coming in immediately.

Better Privacy Than Condominiums and/or Apartments

One big advantage of a town home when being compared to condominium and/or apartment is it boast a better privacy. There is no home or unit attached next to the house or even above or below it. The house stand by itself just like a single family home


Limited Flexibility on Making Changes On the External part of your home
As much as having a home owner association is an advantage, it comes with varying disadvantages as well. One of them is about control and flexibility. You are very limited to what you can do to your home such as beautifying it or making any external upgrades and some of the internal upgrades as well. If you need to make any changes, you need approval from the Home owner association first to ensure that you follow their guidelines and requirements. For example, you may not be able to convert your back patio into a room even if you get approval from the city because it won’t be consistent with the other homes in the community.

HOA Fees
Some of the HOA fees are ridiculously high. If you are utilizing the amenities, great! But if you’re not then you are just wasting a big chunk of your money towards the HOA. So now you would try to force yourself to commit even if you did not want to. So the biggest question when buying a condominium with a high HOA fees due to all these amenities is: Do you really need any of those and how often would you use it? Moreover, did you know that your HOA fees would actually increase overtime? If the community is brand new, chances are the HOA fees are very decent. However, as time passes by, majority of the amenities would require more maintenance and repairs. Thus, would require more funding. And where do they get the additional funding…..from the homeowners. So treat the HOA like taxes paid to your community but the only difference is that it’s not tax deductible!!

Too Close With Neighbors
Living in a townhouse means that you have to live closer to your next door neighbors as compared to when you live in most single family homes.

Harder to Sell Than Single Family Homes

Because of the limitations, restrictions and smaller yard present with town homes, they may be harder to sell than single family homes.

Is a town house right for you?

If you are the person who:

  • Wants to buy a cheaper alternative to a single family home but did not want the buy a condominium.
  • Wants to have living amenities such as a swimming pool, gated community, playground, party room area, but do not want to solely bear the cost of the amenities and the  maintenance.
  • Does not want to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of the front yard, the front trees, etc.
  • Wants a home with both the building structure and the parcel of land it sits on.
  • Does not mind not having the flexibility on what you can do with your home.
  • Does not mind having a governing body to dictate what you can do or does not  mind additional rules and regulations on top of the city ordinances that you have to follow

Then a townhouse may be appropriate for you.

Photo credit: Frusterio Inc


  1. Evan says

    Townhouses can be organized in a co-op fashion as well. A townhouse is the type of structure not the legal orginization.

  2. Things have changed and townhomes, condos, and coops provide too many benefits to overlook. I believe that they have become a more popular option here in Mahopac, NY and in the rest of Putnam and Westchester County because they usually cost less than a single family home. People here often complain that for a family buying a home for the first time, single family homes are just too expensive, hence, the move to these other options.
    If you are interested more about townhomes, condos, and coops, I have here an article from a real estate in mahopac broker.

  3. I’ve never been a big fan of town houses or condo’s. I currently live in a beautiful apartment complex, but I wouldn’t want to buy the unit I live in. Eventually, I want a little bit of land and I’d like the flexibility to do as I please to the home I own. I also don’t like how it is more difficult to sell town homes than stand alone homes. I think that’s a major drawback.