Financing a condominium or townhome differs from financing a single-family property. If you’re considering which of these options is right for you, you may want to factor in this information.
According to a blog post on nationwide.com, “A condominium, or condo, is a building or community of buildings in which units are owned by individuals, rather than a landlord.” Townhomes are defined as “conjoined units that are owned by individual tenants.”
One important difference: When you purchase a townhome, you own the structure you live in, as well as the land underneath it. In a condo, you own the interior, but the building exterior and the land on which the building sits is owned by a homeowners association (HOA).
The HOA is governed by a board of directors elected by the owners of individual units. There are monthly HOA fees for both townhomes and condominiums, designed to assist with maintaining the property. Typically, these fees are higher for condos, because they include lawn care, snow removal, pest control, and other regular maintenance tasks. Townhome owners usually have more responsibility for upkeep.
In financing a condo or a townhome, your lender may require that the development be on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) approved condo list, which is maintained by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is a nationwide list of developments that have been approved, and are regularly reapproved, for loans. Depending on the way the development is classified, some townhome projects may not be included on the FHA list.
Your real estate attorney will be able to examine the HOA financials, as well as bylaws, insurance certificates, and other documents that indicate how well – or how badly – the HOA operates.
This is an important step; your purchase will likely hinge on what your attorney finds in those documents.