Condo or Townhome: Which is Right for You?

If you are looking for a lower-maintenance home, townhomes and condominiums are a great way to go. They are ideal for the first-time home buyer, as they are often less expensive than single family homes. They are also a good fit for empty-nesters, as they often have a smaller footprint than single family homes and therefore less upkeep.

There are differences between the two, however, and it’s important you be aware of them. In a townhome, you own the land under your home. In a condo, all common areas and land are owned by the condominium association; you own only the interior of your unit.

Townhome associations usually maintain the external part of the development, such as landscaping and snow plowing, but have less say in the decorating of individual units or roof replacements. For this reason, condo fees tend to be higher than townhome fees.

Before submitting an offer on either, it is important that you look at both the bylaws and financial statements of the association. As well, have your real estate attorney review both before you prepare an offer.

Specifically, on the financial statements, look for how well the association is doing. Are there any obvious financial or money management issues? Is the association solvent? Have there been any significant increases in dues lately? How many of the units are in foreclosure? You want answers to all these questions before you make an offer.

While financing a townhome is more like financing a single family home, they usually have their own requirements that are a bit more restrictive. This is because the overall management, and therefore the curb appeal and property values of the development, are in the hands of the association. The better the job they do, the more people will to want to live there, and the more likely you are to sell your unit for a good price.

A Good Real Estate Attorney Can Ease Your Mind

Of all the money you’ll spend acquiring a home, one of the best investments will be hiring a good real estate attorney. An experienced real estate attorney will provide a completely different perspective on your home purchase than either your real estate or mortgage professional.

An experienced real estate attorney will protect your interests by ensuring the purchase transaction process is going smoothly, and that all the documents and other elements of the sale are properly prepared and delivered on time. He or she will review purchase contracts and home inspection reports, as well as mortgage and closing documents.

Legal questions

Also, questions may arise during the home-buying process that nobody but a real estate attorney should be answering, such as the discovery by the property surveyor that your prospective neighbor’s fence sits inside your property line, or vice versa.

These scenarios do happen, and an incorrect answer when these situations arise could cause serious problems. When these situations arise, your real estate agent and mortgage professional will likely encourage you to contact a real estate attorney to weigh in on these issues; it’s important that you do as they suggest and discuss the issue with your attorney.

The reason: Over the years, a good real estate attorney has handled many transactions and has experienced any number of issues. He or she will know how to handle them.

Your mortgage professional has likely worked with a number of real estate attorneys and will be able to recommend a good one.