The decision to become a homeowner represents a significant milestone. It’s, therefore, extremely important to consider all your options when it comes to the different types of available homes to ensure you find the right one that fulfills as many of your personal and financial needs as possible.
Following is a breakdown of the three most popular home types – condominiums, townhouses and single-family detached – each offering its own unique features.
If you purchase a condo, you own the individual unit where you live, but the exterior and common areas are collectively owned by all condo owners. Condos are governed by a board that’s elected by condo owners and the directors of the board work with a property management company to oversee its overall operation.
A condo is a particularly appealing option especially if you’re a first-time buyer. All maintenance and upkeep of the exterior of the building, including common spaces and amenities, is the responsibility of the property management company to which you pay condo fees each month. This is one of the primary advantages of living in a condo – you don’t have to mow the lawn, rake the leaves or shovel the snow.
Condo fees collected from all residents are kept in a reserve fund, which is used for upgrades or repairs so you don’t have to maintain an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses. Some condos also include gyms or pools that you may not otherwise be able to afford. Condos are also generally located in city centres with easy access to shopping, entertainment and transit.
There are a few things to keep in mind with condo living. For one, because you don’t own the exterior of your unit, there may be limitations or restrictions for renovating or remodeling outside of your condo walls. And, since you share walls with your neighbours, there’s potential for noise or privacy issues.
A condo represents a great starter home opportunity thanks to affordability and low maintenance. For many, it’s a perfect steppingstone towards purchasing a single-family home.
Townhouses are independently owned, multi-story homes with small back and front yards, and are connected by one or two common walls. Ownership in a townhouse can be either a condo (see above) or freehold – the latter of which is similar to detached home living in that you have full ownership of both the interior and exterior of the house. Plot sizes tend to be small, however, so you won’t often be able to put in elaborate landscaping or install a pool.
Residents of freehold townhouses can make their own decisions concerning upgrades and improvements, but are also responsible for all maintenance and repair costs to both the home and property. Conversely, because you don’t pay condo fees every month, you can put money aside to help fund your projects.
Townhouse living tends to instill a sense of belonging and community. Because you’re literally attached to your neighbours, residents are more inclined to get to know each other, socialize and keep watch over the neighbourhood.
The cost of a townhouse is less than a single-detached home and monthly expenses may also be lower in that shared walls allow for better insulation and energy efficiency. Because of its affordability and similarity to single-family living, demand for townhouse living tends to be high.
Many people aspire to own a single-family home that offers more space and privacy than the above-mentioned options. There are no shared walls, there is direct street access, the house and land are yours alone, and you typically have some distance from your neighbours.
While a single-family home requires more maintenance – and you’re responsible for all of it – you’re also free to do whatever you want. Unlike a townhome, front and back yards tend to be larger so you can fully customize all areas based on your needs and wants. The possibilities for renovations or expansions, inside and out, will only be limited by your imagination and finances. You can install a pool, change the landscaping, put on an addition or change the layout/structure of your home.
Single-family homes also have an individuality factor. In addition to different architectural styles, each house is unique as each owner injects their personal design. There’s also more room to grow in this type of house and they’re more amenable to entertaining. Think backyard BBQs, family reunions and parties with neighbours. Other appealing features include double-car garages, large, sometimes finished basements, a living room and family room, as well as attic and storage spaces.
While generally the most appealing option, single-family homes carry higher purchase prices, which means a larger downpayment will be required, property taxes and monthly bills are higher, and upkeep is more extensive.
Have questions about which type of home may be best for your budget and needs? Answers are just a call or email away!