Single, Townhomes, Patio Homes and Condos
There's no doubt that Realtors speak a language all their own. The key for first-time home buyers is learning the lingo. And a great place to start is knowing the difference between a traditional house, a condominium, a townhome and a patio home.
Single Family Homes
Let's start with the basics. A traditional house, professionally referred to as a "single-family home" by Realtors, is the typical house. It's got a front yard, a back yard and some place to put a car or two like a garage or porte cochere.
Sometimes homes are in master-planned communities and sometimes they sit hundreds of feet apart on several acres. Overall, the typical house is not attached to anything more than a garage.
Moving on to townhomes, this is where things begin to get interesting. A townhome is a single-family home which may be attached to other single-family homes on one or both sides. This means owners will share one or more common walls, sometimes called "party walls".
Owners of townhomes have the same type of ownership that people in single-family homes enjoy. In other words, owning a townhome means owning the structure and the land on which it sits.
Next is the condominium. With a condo, ownership is of airspace. You literally own the pocket of air in which you reside, or you own everything from the walls inward, and have no individual rights to the land or the building.
In condos, owners have shared rights to things like elevators, parking garages, hallways and the like. Maintenance of these areas becomes the responsibility of a condominium association.
Every owner owns a share of interest in the condominium association, plus an obligation to pay monthly dues or special assessment fees for larger maintenance problems.
Finally, there are patio homes; the source of some confusion. Sometimes called garden homes, these are a kind of blend between single-family homes and condominiums. There is a complete house sitting on land that you own, yet the backyard is sometimes replaced with a small patio area or even non-existent. There is a small yard in the front of the home and down only one side of the house.
With a single-family home, you'd expect to see a strip of yard down both sides of the house...but with a patio home, it's only on one side.
Pros and Cons
With townhomes, condominiums and patio homes, owners pay fees to maintain common areas that all owners may enjoy such as landscaping and recreational areas.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to living in each of these kids of communities. Buyers should consider whether they prefer lots of privacy, if they have small children, if pets will share the home and if they are prepared for the level of upkeep and maintenance that comes with each type of home.
Once these questions are answered, you'll know exactly which way to go. And if you need help finding your bottom line, please call The MyHomeHouston Team for a free consultation. It'll take less than an hour, yet it'll save you hours of unfocused home searching!
About The Author
Michica Guillory has been in the Houston real estate industry since 2001. She’s also the winner of a 2006 Real Estate Apprentice Foundation Grant, ranking in the Top Five.
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