A buyer of a condominium owns his or her individual unit, plus a percentage of the surrounding property, including land and any amenities on the property, (The word "condominium" is Latin, meaning "common ownership" or "common control".) Residents are members of a homeowner's association and pay a monthly fee to the association in exchange for maintenance of the common property. Each condominium complex has a master deed which outlines the percentage of ownership each unit in the development has invested in the entire complex. That percentage determines residents' monthly dues to the association. Condominiums come in a wide variety of architectural styles, from two and 20-story buildings arranged apartment-complex style with carports to luxurious high-rise properties with sweeping views of the surrounding city or natural landscape.
A buyer of a townhouse purchases his or her individual unit, as well as the ground underneath that unit….. Each townhouse has it's own roof (in most cases), in contrast to condos. Townhouse residents sometimes belong to a homeowner's association and pay monthly fees in exchange for general maintenance of common outdoor areas. Townhouses occasionally come with such single-family home amenities as garages and backyards (albeit small backyards), for which owners generally are responsible for maintaining. We strongly suggest that if you purchase a Townhouse that is attached to another unit, and share the same roof, that you have some type of arrangement or agreement with your "shared neighbor" for when the roof needs repairing or the outside of the building needs to be re-stained or painted.
Fo those who enjoy city living, a Condo or Townhouse can be a good fit, especially for first-time homebuyers. Not having to worry about exterior work, like gardening or roof replacement, makes condos ideal for some, and having access to certain amenities is a bonus for many. Similarly, having a small yard in which to sit or garden, is a Townhouse selling point for those who want some features of a traditional detached home, but still want a more urban living experience.
There are potential drawbacks with Condo and Townhouse living, however. Condos and Townhomes can be expensive to own – especially condos – and depending on how an individual HOA functions, they may or may not feel as though they are worth the money sent. Some also find the restrictive nature of an HOA frustrating, wishing instead that they could do more of what they would like without having to consult neighbors (in which case a detached home that isn't connected to an HOA is the best solution.