Homebuying on a tight budget? Consider a townhouse

Rick Sheppard
Published on May 27, 2020

Homebuying on a tight budget? Consider a townhouse

If rapidly rising prices are making you feel squeezed out of the single-family home market, consider downsizing your dream. After all, first homes are rarely forever homes.

It’s tempting to put off the purchase of a home until either home prices fall or your income rises. Tempting, yes. Smart? Not really. The wise thing to do is to begin building equity now so that you can later use it for that dream home. One of the best ways to do this is to buy a townhouse.

Townhome living has its advantages and disadvantages. The latter includes the likely HOA fees that will be tacked on to your monthly house payment and living in very close proximity to your neighbors.

Tolerate that, however, and you’re on your way to making the home of your dreams a reality.

Today, we take a look at four reasons to consider purchasing a townhouse. But first:

What’s the difference between a townhouse and a condo?

The confusion between the two stems from the general misunderstanding of what they describe.  A townhouse is an architectural term, like duplex or triplex.

It describes a building where units share a common wall, nobody lives above or below the unit and they all have separate entrances from the street. This is opposed to a main entrance and front doors off of corridors, as is the case in condo communities.

A condominium, on the other hand, describes a type of ownership. Each homeowner owns their unit, but not the actual building, and they share ownership of the common areas.

Condo units can consist of one or more floors and may have neighbors above and below.

To make matters even more confusing, a townhouse can be a condo, depending on how ownership is held in the community.

1. Lawnmower not required

When you purchase a townhouse, your monthly HOA fees cover the cost of landscape maintenance. Some townhouses offer private patios and, in that case, the homeowner is responsible for any upkeep of landscaping there.

The fact is, even maintenance of the hardscaping in a townhouse community is covered by the association. This includes pool maintenance, tennis court resurfacing, etc.

While your single-family home-owning friends are spending their weekends mowing, edging, raking, weeding and feeding, you’ll be kicking your feet up in that hammock you installed on your patio.

2. You’ll spend less money

The average townhouse costs less than the average single-family home. For instance, the average single-family home price in the U.S. hovers around $243,225 according to BusinessInsider.com. Compare that to the average townhouse price of $195,000 (GlobalPropertyGuide.com).

Sure, you may run across the occasional luxury townhouse that is selling for significantly more than this, but most are very reasonably priced.

The lower price tag makes for a lower mortgage payment. And, because townhouses often contain less square footage than single-family homes, they cost significantly less to heat and cool—saving you even more money.

3. How about those amenities?

If a pool, gym, outdoor kitchen or other amenities seemed beyond your homebuying budget, think again. When you buy a townhouse, you may just get at least one of those amenities right there on the property.

If there are others you simply must have, shop strategically. Some of what you can find includes:

  • Private garage
  • Health club/fitness center
  • Security guard or doorman
  • Swimming pool and spa

Keep in mind that a single-family home with any of these amenities will cost significantly more than a townhouse with these amenities. Remember as well that typically the more amenities, the higher the price of the home.

4. Like being social?

When you live in a townhouse, your next-door neighbor (in fact, all of your neighbors) are situated much closer than they would be if you lived in a single-family home.  Many more opportunities to meet your neighbors, socialize with them and forge long lasting relationships.

Many people find this appealing. If you’re among them, let’s go shopping for a townhouse!

For more information about buying a townhouse grab a copy of my home buyers guide – filled with many helpful tips to buying a townhouse.  

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