The Difference Between Condos and Townhouses Explained 10/5/17

Over the years, the lines have been blurred when trying to define whether a unit is a townhouse or a condo. The simplest way to separate the two types of properties is by land ownership. If it’s a true townhouse, the land that the unit sits on is owned by the homeowner, whereas, if it’s a condo, the land is owned by the Homeowner’s Association (HOA). In Marin and Sonoma, true townhouses are often set up as Planned Unit Developments (PUD’s), and that’s how we define the land ownership structure of a particular development.

*Each development and HOA is set up differently, so you will need to verify the specific responsibilities of the owner and the HOA when buying a condo or townhouse. The following outlines general responsibilities and aspects for each type of property.

Typical Townhouse/PUD Features

  • Owner is responsible for the exterior of the building as well as the interior. This includes the roof, siding, patios, decks, balconies, driveway and landscaping within the footprint of the property.
  • The HOA is responsible for the communal areas, e.g., pool, gym, clubhouse, parks and landscaping outside the owners’ properties.
  • Often built in rows so that the units share walls but there are no units above or below.
  • HOA fees are less because individual owners are responsible for more of their own repairs.
  • Insurance is higher because individual owners are responsible for more of their own repairs.
  • Can be larger in size.

Typical Condo Features

  • Own the unit up to and including the interior walls. The HOA is responsible for the exterior of the. This includes the roof, siding, patios, decks, balconies, driveway and landscaping.
  • The HOA is responsible for the communal areas, e.g., pool, gym, clubhouse, parks and landscaping outside the owners’ properties.
  • HOA fees are higher because they have to cover all the additional expenses for maintenance on the exterior of the units.
  • Insurance is less because the HOA covers the replacement and repair costs for more items.
  • Generally smaller in size.

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