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Difference between Condos and Townhouses – don’t mistake type of house with type of ownership

Disclaimer: This information about townhouses, townhomes, condominiums, condos, patio homes, etc. is intended to inform only.  It is not intended to offer expert legal advise vis-a-vis ownership issues. Please consult a qualified attorney about any ownership, maintenance or property related issues in this area.

Townhomes are built as single- or multi-story units – each with at least one separate outside entrance. Condos are individual dwellings within a single building, often multi-story, with several adjoining each other, often with at least one entrance to each from a common hall or entry area.

With ownership, the condominium owner also shares tenancy with other units owners in the common areas, such as the driveways, parking, elevators, outside hallways, recreation, and landscapes areas that the homeowners association homeowners. A majority of states have adopted statutes to cover the issues that are involved with development, construction, management, and taxation of condominium projects.

 

When we talk about a house, we’re usually referring to a free-standing, single-family residence.  The main defining characteristic of a house, besides the fact that it is free-standing, is the extent of ownership responsibility assumed by the buyer. The owner of a house owns the building itself, as well as the land, and is responsible for all upkeep associated with those areas, including lawn and landscape maintenance, painting, repairs and real estate taxes.

townhouse is like a house in that the owner owns both the structure and the land on which it sits; but it is not free-standing, so “the land on which it sits” is limited to the front and back yards. Townhouses are connected to one another in a row, and are usually two or three stories tall. It is important to note that townhouse refers to the type of house and not to the type of ownership.  The ownership responsibility in a townhouse (townhome) is the same as for a house; however, there may be differing circumstances from development to development, city to city or state to state regarding who owns the outside walls, roof, etc. of the structure which must be verified with local authorities.

Like townhousescondominiums are attached to one another. If you own a condo, you do not own the land surrounding your living space. A condo owner owns only the unit itself, which is taxed as an individual entity, and sometimes a percentage of the common areas of the community.  It is important to note that condominium (condo)  refers only to type of ownership and is NOT a type of house.

Many people – including some real estate professionals – are not aware of this distinction.  The key is that people often mistake type of house with type of ownership.

Patio homes (sometimes called garden homes or detached townhomes)  are freestanding houses as opposed to townhouses or condominiums. They are often placed in the townhome/condo category because they offer many of the same features as townhomes & condos – low or no maintenance and little or no yard work, and are on a very small lot. This type of dwelling may also be referred to as “zero lot line” because one or two sides are on or very close to the property lot line.

Disclaimer: This information about townhouses, townhomes, condominiums, condos, patio homes, etc. is intended to inform only.  It is not intended to offer expert legal advise vis-a-vis ownership issues. Please consult a qualified attorney about any ownership, maintenance or property related issues in this area.

 

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