The scoop on town homes and condos

Which should you buy?
It's a toss up when you're ready to buy a home. Do you go with a town home or a traditional single family home? Honestly, it matters on your lifestyle and needs. I was formerly a sales manager for a publishing company and I would travel almost 50% of the time. I wasn't married (in fact, I'm still not married) and didn't need much space. Plus, the last thing I wanted to do when I was home between trips was mow the yard, fix the fence, shovel the driveway, etc. So, a town home was a great fit. The downside is you're paying someone else to maintain the outside and you usually have limited or no yard space. Also, depending on the association, you may not have a garage or even covered parking.

What are Association dues?
These are usually monthly dues that can run from $80 to $300 some dollars on average in Colorado Springs (that's in addition to your monthly mortgage payment, so you definitely want to consider these costs as your looking at buying). These dues typically pay for exterior maintenance including keeping up common areas like swimming pools, grassy areas, parking lots, clubhouses, etc. Also, many times these dues pay for services such as shoveling walks in the winter, lawn maintenance, and sometimes even trash removal. It's important to check with individual associations to see what your dues cover and how often you're required to pay dues. By the way, it IS important that you pay these dues because the association can actually put a lien on your home if these go unpaid, which could ultimately lead to foreclosure.

What about insurance and taxes?
Property taxes are usually lower on a town home as well as your homeowners insurance. But, again, you're often sharing common areas with neighbors and have adjoining walls. Your insurance is basically like a "renter's insurance" policy because it's only insuring the interior and your possessions. Your HOA (or Homeowners Association) typically has a separate insurance company to cover claims for the exterior and common grounds, such as hail damage or if someone is injured on the property.

So what's the difference between a condo and town home?
Basically, in a condo situation you own the space in which you live, inside your walls and nothing else. That's why condo units are often many floors with units all around you.
In a town home you actually own the space inside your walls and the ground land your town home sits on. You won't have other units above you, buy will often still have connecting walls.

The best advice I can give you is check the documents provided by the HOA to figure out specifically what you are responsible for, what you own, and what your dues cover.
When you live in an association, you are a member of that association and are governed by the rules and regulations set up by the Board and homeowners. You also have an option to join that board and/or attend board meetings if you want a more active role in your community.

Still have questions? Give me a call or send me an email and I will be happy to assist you.

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