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Old 01-08-2011, 11:18 AM
 
131 posts, read 364,841 times
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We are a family of 5 and want to buy a home in a few years. We have a low budget and I'm getting discouraged looking at houses online (yes, I am already looking, crazy I know). I don't want to have to deal with a short sale or foreclosure, so I was wondering how a townhouse might be.

For those who have lived in a townhouse/condo, how did you like it? Would you recommend it? What are the positives/negatives?
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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Its basically an apartment with all the BS that goes with it. They also tend to have parking problems as kids grow up and get their own cars.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Baltimore
1,802 posts, read 7,272,189 times
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On the other hand, a townhouse may be a good starter home. Usually it's a better value for the money in square footage and in finishes, and it doesn't necessarily rule out having a garage or a yard. And not all townhouse communities have homeowners associations either.

All things being equal, I'd prefer to live in a single family home, but when I bought my house almost 20 years ago I opted for a townhouse because I wanted a newer home with fewer maintenance issues in a reasonably safe area. My budget got me a 5 year old 1,800 square foot townhouse instead of a 30+ year old 720 square foot single family home that needed serious updating. Even with the current real estate situation my house has doubled in value from the price I paid for it. For me, it certainly worked out better than renting, and even though it isn't my dream home it was a good choice in the long run.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:36 PM
 
29,988 posts, read 37,095,343 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *~Kim~* View Post
We are a family of 5 and want to buy a home in a few years. We have a low budget and I'm getting discouraged looking at houses online (yes, I am already looking, crazy I know). I don't want to have to deal with a short sale or foreclosure, so I was wondering how a townhouse might be.

For those who have lived in a townhouse/condo, how did you like it? Would you recommend it? What are the positives/negatives?

Townhome negatives (ownership): common walls, shared roofs (especially when it is time to repair/replace), HOA maint. fees, shared driveways, inability often to fence in the yard (not always the case).

Townhome positives (ownership): lower price, if one can purchase attached units the ability to own and live in one while the other produces income and helps make the payments as well as choosing your common wall neighbor.

I'd suggest to the OP not to completely rule out short sales and repossessions as some very good values could be missed.

Edited to add: this thread might do better in the Real Estate section.
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Norwood, Massachusetts
1,752 posts, read 3,736,336 times
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My first owned home was a condo; I now live in a single family home. I also rented a townhome from a private owner so I have a smattering of experience with each.

I agree with the positives and negatives of previous posters generally. One thing I would add is that there is an incredible variety when it comes to condos/townhomes. My condo was one of only two units, and I got on very well with the young couple that owned the other unit. Since it was a very small association we set our own dues to cover common expenses and it was easy to make decisions. It definitely was a cheaper alternative to a single family house, not just with respect to the mortgage (because the unit cost less than a single family home) but maintenance was also cheaper since many costs were shared with the other unit.

I've had many friends that lived in larger associations and had a very different experience. They didn't feel like they had much of a voice and there was a lot of politics. The HOA dues were frequently horrendous, so a lot of the savings they may have enjoyed by the smaller purchase price was partly offset by the more expensive maintenance fees in the from of HOA dues. Having said that, with a well-run association there is also a lot fewer headaches with respect to maintenance since it isn't you having to contract with the roofer. lawn maintenance, etc.

I also think there is a very different feel with a townhome vs a traditional condo. To a certain extent they feel more like a home, and if you like to garden you'll generally have at least a small patch of land.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Bay Area, CA
29,041 posts, read 44,904,594 times
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Townhouses are my favorite! I've only been a renter, so I don't know about the financial or investment pros/cons, but here are mine...

Pros: More space than your typical apartment, often 2-stories (thus it feels more like a "house"), only 1 or 2 shared walls, sometimes includes a small yard... and the best part? You don't have to do any maintenance yourself!

Cons: At the mercy of your HOA or leasing agent, attached to at least one neighbor, smaller space - both indoor and out.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:39 PM
 
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A lot can change in a few years. If it were me, I'd skip the townhouse and work on putting some more effort into being prepared to buy a home.

Start saving more if possible, work on improving your credit so you can get a better rate from the bank, or even find out from a bank how much house you really can afford (find out what kind of mortgage payments you would have).

If you've got time, don't rush the home buying process.
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Lansing, MI
2,954 posts, read 6,120,716 times
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Rent a townhouse before buying -- see if it works for you. I would go stir crazy if I purchased a TH condo, especially if I can find a single family home in the same city within the same price range.

My major complaints (as a renter) is shared space with neighbors. My previous townhouse had heavy smokers next door and they smoked on the back patio. Their smoke always came into the master bedroom, and we could never leave the windows open. Parking was also another big issue.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Edmond, OK
4,037 posts, read 9,162,579 times
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I've lived in two different townhouses. One was nothing more than a two story apartment with a 2 car garage. No firewall between us and the neighbors. We could hear the next door neighbors alarm clock go off every morning, hear his TV, etc. It was horrible. As a young newlywed couple, I can only imagine what he heard from us.

The second was a great experience. Each was divided by firewalls, even the roof, so if you owned it, and had to re-roof, all you had to worry about was your own. I don't know how much the HOA fees were because we just rented it. The downside was that there was no yard at all. It had a tiny interior atrium and that was it. Out front it was just raised beds which were maintained by the HOA. The house was built directly onto an alley. The garage opened directly on to it. No yard at all. This was before we had kids and pets though, so we weren't concerned about a place for kids and dogs to play.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:43 PM
 
15,254 posts, read 16,767,035 times
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We own a 1,300 sf. single-family home right now (2 adults, 1 12-year-old) and are looking for a little more space. I keep gravitating toward townhouses, even though I think plenty of people would find that weird. We can get more space for less money and have seen some very pretty units. I love the idea of the outside maintenance being taken care of by someone else and the common areas of the two places we've looked at are very nice. Our daughter has one neighborhood friend she would miss, but we wouldn't be that far away.

I know the downsides are sharing walls and parking. But in our first single-family home our neighbors were awful. Their dog barked all night and they'd play basketball on the driveway by our bedroom at 2 a.m. So you really don't get any guarantees.

Anyway, this thread is interesting and I look forward to more comments.
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