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One of the first choices you're going to have to make when you decide to buy a home, is what TYPE of home you want to purchase? Do you want to buy a condo or co-op?
A town home? A detached home? As I explained in my "Home Buying Process" video, this is going to be one of the first choices you're going to have to make. I can't make the decision for you, but I can help with explaining the difference so you can make a choice that works for you.
Let's start off with what's commonly the two most unfamiliar of the group — condo's and town homes. A condo is basically an apartment that you own. You mainly own the airspace in between the walls. Because you don't technically own the roof and exterior of the building, you pay a higher HOA fee.
In parts of my market, HOA fees can run 3 to 400 dollars on a $150,000 condo. BUT, there is a benefit to the high HOA fees. Presuming the management is doing a good job with the funds, you won't have to ever pay for a roof. Garbage and water is usually included in the HOA fee. Maybe there's even a pool and some nice landscaping.
ALL this is included with your HOA fee. Another note, with some HOA's, they fix a majority of problems that you and other owners could not have caused. For example, if the condo above you starts to leak into your unit, and it's at NO FAULT of the owner upstairs, then the HOA will likely cover the costs. If for example the owner upstairs flooded their bathtub or toilet or never did regular maintenance, then that would be a separate homeowner issue.
Town homes are kind of in the middle of a regular home and a condo, and it depends on how it's set up. For example, if your town home complex shares roofs with the neighbors, usually the HOA is set up to repair and replace it.
However, if your deck starts to need major repair, you are likely going to be responsible for replacing it, whereas a condo will replace or fix it for you. Town homes commonly are more expensive than condos, but the HOA fees are usually less — mainly because there is less common responsibility.
Detached homes are homes that have no neighbors sharing walls, and are almost always the most expensive of the three property types. With a home, you are responsible for all repairs and maintenance. If the roof needs repair, you have to pay for it. If there is a leak or the deck needs repair, you have to pay for it. Landscaping must be done by the owner.
All the garbage and water bills are also paid directly by you and not an HOA. However, in *SOME* developments — mostly newer ones — there is a small HOA fee. Usually this is paid by the neighborhood to maintain a local park and the greenery near the roadway, but usually not your front lawn.
Of course, there are also other versions of the primary three types of housing. Co-ops are basically condos in which you buy a percentage. You commonly will see these in downtown areas like San Francisco or especially New York. Then there are homes which share a wall with a neighbor — commonly called duets. There are also others that are less common nationally but may be more common in local markets.
When it comes down to it, it's all a matter of preference. If you don't like to have to save up for any large repairs and you like the idea of a close community or apartment style living and don't mind the privacy of your own yard, a condo may be the way to go.
If you prefer to take care of everything yourself and like the idea of fully controlling your bills, repairs and having your own place to do with as you wish, then a detached home is likely your best bet. And if your somewhere in between where you would like to have a small yard but don't mind sharing expenses, then maybe a townhouse is for you. Either way, it's up to you as a buyer to make that choice…now that's good to know.
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