What's the Difference in a Townhome and a Condo?
Do you know the difference between a townhouse and a condo?
The former conjures up images of rows of two-story brick apartment complexes...we've got a lot of them here in Charlotte! The latter could refer to anything from a glass box on top of an Uptown skyscraper to a hip Southend loft, right?
The real difference in a townhome and a condo is all about semantics.
Townhomes are actually defined by their architectural styles. Townhomes can actually either be owned or rented. Generally, a townhome is sort of like a condensed single family home. More often than not, townhomes are multiple stories, and usually, the living area is on one story while the bedrooms are on the other(s). Townhomes may or may not have an attached yard space and they may or may not have access to shared amenities like a pool, tennis courts, etc. Usually, townhomes are part of a large community comprised of a bunch of townhomes, but they can be part of a single row of townhomes, too. Townhomes usually have both front and back access and windows on both sides of the building.
Condos - or "condominiums" if you want to get technical about it - is defined by being owned. The term refers to a property in which the owner is responsible for everything inside the walls, but not for shared spaces like hallways, exterior, etc. The easiest way to think about a townhome is like an apartment, but not one that you rent. Condos are more typically units, and they don't usually have both front and back exposures like a townhome. You see them most often in medium- to large-sized buildings that stack condo on top of a condo, each sold to a different individual. Once owned, some buildings allow condos to then be rented out, but if that happens, they become two different things. They're a condo to the owner and an apartment to the renter. Still following?
Here's the rub: A townhome can BE a condo.
Yup, that's right. Some townhome developments are built with the very intention of selling those townhomes to individual owners. In that case, they're condos, too! The owner owns both a condo and a townhome, depending on what they want to call it. A townhome is never just a townhome, it's either a condo or an apartment.
Let's break it down:
Townhome: Defined by its architecture
Style: Often two-story, living space on one level/bedrooms on another
Garage: Individual or none
HOA fees: Yes, if owned
Shared space: Sometimes
Landscaping: Sometimes your responsibility, sometimes paid by HOA dues
Condo: Defined by ownership
Style: Townhome, apartment, loft
Garage: Usually shared
HOA fees: Yes
Shared space: Typical amenities include sports facilities, walking paths, garage space
Landscaping: Typically handled and paid for by HOA