Main Content

Condo vs. Townhouse: What’s the difference?


If you’re looking for condos and townhomes for sale in State College, PA, you might be wondering which property type is a better investment. When deciding between the two, here’s what you need to know about distinguishing one from the other as well as the pros and cons of each.

Condo versus townhome: What’s the difference?

In most markets, a condo isn’t so much a property type as it is a type of ownership. It’s a single residential unit in which you own the interior of the space. This unit is typically located within a building or complex with common areas (i.e. gardens, driveways, pools, rooftop patios) and similar side-by-side units with different residents.

Aside from their individual units, condo owners have access to the rest of the building. They also contribute monthly or annual fees to a condo association, which presides over the upkeep, insurance, and maintenance for common areas and the external components of your unit (i.e. exterior walls, roof, etc.).

A townhome, on the other hand, refers to a type of home design or architecture. It usually refers to a multi-level home that shares walls with an adjoining home on either one or both sides.

When you purchase a townhome, you can claim ownership of the interior and exterior components of the property as well as the land on which it’s situated.

Like condos, townhomes are located within communities or developments governed by homeowners association (HOAs). Residents also pay fees that go towards upkeep, maintenance, and security of shared areas and exteriors.

When it comes to price, townhomes usually command higher prices than condos. However, there are many other factors affecting real estate prices, including location, age of the property, and more. There are luxury condos that can cost more than mid-range townhomes, and so on.

To get a more accurate idea of the costs of condo versus townhome ownership, make sure you take the costs of HOA fees, insurance, and property taxes before making an offer.

Deciding whether you should buy a condo or townhome comes down to factors like lifestyle, convenience, and goals.

The pros and cons of buying a condo

Buyers with little to no homeownership experience will benefit from a condo purchase before upgrading to either townhome or single-family home once they have a better understanding of the costs and requirements of homeownership. Most first-time homebuyers become so preoccupied with qualifying for a loan and saving up for the down payment that they lose sight of the on-going costs of homeownership, especially if they’re more accustomed to renting.

Condos are also an ideal choice for buyers who don’t have the time or energy for home maintenance, particularly lawn care and maintenance. This applies to busy professionals and persons with limited mobility.

Lastly, buyers looking to simplify their lifestyles may benefit from the relatively lower costs and fewer responsibilities of condo living. As already mentioned, the condo association will oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the building and its shared areas, limiting condo owners’ obligations to the four walls of their unit.

One of the biggest downsides of condo living is the smaller space that comes with it. This might be a welcome change for buyers looking to downsize, but others might underestimate the amount of storage space they need. However, some luxury condos tend to be larger, with ample storage and square footage depending on your needs.

Lastly, the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) of the condo association will place restrictions on the kind of home renovations and improvements you can make.

The pros and cons of buying a townhome

One of the main advantages of purchasing a townhome is land ownership. This means that you’ll have enough yard space for gardening, pets, and more, but not so much that you’ll have to concern yourself with lawn care.

And while renovations and improvements are usually subject to HOA screening and approval, especially when it comes to exterior changes, you’ll have more leeway when it comes to upgrades and cosmetic changes to the property.

But perhaps the main advantage of townhomes over condos is that they offer more privacy. Although you’ll still share some walls with the neighbors, you’ll have a separate access point to your home – you won’t have to keep running into them in the hallways or the elevator.

If you’re in the market for townhomes or condos in State College, PA, get assistance from an experienced agent who can walk you through the buying process. Contact us, the Heritage Realty Group, Inc., here. You can also reach our agents at 814.231.0101 and RLHoman363(at)gmail(dotted)com for questions or inquiries. We have more than 100 years of combined experience in real estate. We can’t wait to show you everything State College has to offer.