Should I Buy a House, Condo, or Townhouse?

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FACT-CHECKED
Published Sept. 28, 2022
Older couple sitting on the balcony of their home.

Choosing which type of home to buy is a key decision. While the single-family home is often idealized, townhouses and condos offer their own set of benefits. Finding the right home type for you comes down to your needs, priorities, and financial situation.

Condo vs. Townhouse vs. House

If you’re wondering about the major structural differences between each type of home, here’s what you need to know.

  • Condominium: A unit in a larger building that shares walls with other residences. It is like an apartment, but comes with the perks of building equity, and fewer maintenance responsibilities compared with other home types.
  • Townhouse: A multifloored home that shares at least one wall with another residence or structure. Townhouses often are built in a row and usually have some outdoor space.
  • House: A single-family home detached from other structures, often with yard space. With a single-family home, the owner owns both the building and the property it sits on.

Condo vs. Townhouse vs. House

Home typeWhat you ownInitial costRecurring costs
CondoYour unit.Least expensive.Monthly mortgage payment, homeowners association fees.
TownhouseYour house and the property it sits on.Middle ground.Monthly mortgage payment, HOA fees, maintenance, and repairs.
HouseYour house plus the land around it.More expensive.Monthly mortgage payment, maintenance and repairs, property upkeep.

The Cost Differences Between Condos, Townhouses, and Houses

Here’s a breakdown of how the type of home you choose will impact what you have to pay.

The Cost Differences Between a Condos, Townhouses, and Houses

Purchase priceHouses typically cost more than townhouses or condos because they’re usually bigger. Townhouses generally cost less than houses but more than condos.
Homeowners insuranceCondo owners pay less for homeowners insurance because they have less space, and the policy only needs to cover the interior of the unit. Single-family homeowners pay more for homeowners insurance because they have to purchase liability coverage for the whole property.
Home resale valueResale value will depend on market conditions, but houses are the safest bet when it comes to long-term resale value.
HOA rules and feesCondo owners typically pay the highest HOA fees with the most restrictions. If you own a townhouse or house, you’ll pay lower HOA fees. Some houses do not belong to HOA communities.

Pros and Cons of Condos, Townhouses, and Houses

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of home.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Condo vs. Townhouse vs. Single-Family Home

TypeProsCons
Condominiums– Least expensive.
– Less responsibility for maintenance.
– Often found in central areas.
– Amenities, services, and shared spaces.  
– Smaller size.
– Limits on remodeling.
– HOA fees and rules.
– Appreciates at a slower rate.
– Higher interest rates.
Townhouses– More living space and privacy than a condo.
– Lower HOA fees compared with a condo.
– Some outdoor space.
– More affordable than a single-family home.
– Monthly costs are similar to renting but you’re building equity.
– Less space and privacy than a house.
– HOA fees and restrictions.
– Costs more than a condo.
– Resale value lower than for a house.
– More responsibility than condos for maintenance and repairs.
Single-family houses– Most space and privacy.
– More freedom to do what you want with the property.
– Outdoor space.
– Best resale value.
– Different architectural styles to choose from.
– Most expensive home type.
– Higher down payment and closing costs.
– More financial responsibility.
– Maintenance and repairs are your responsibility.
– May have HOA fees and rules.

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