Condo, Townhouse, or House: What's The Best Choice For First-Time Buyers?

Posted by Dave Kotler on Wednesday, March 29th, 2023 at 3:13pm.

Is a Condo, Townhome, or Single-Family Home Better for First-Time Buyers?

Purchasing real estate is a big decision, but homeownership is a valuable asset and often worth the investment. Condos, single-family homes, and townhomes can all be excellent choices for first-time homebuyers. The key to a successful first real estate purchase is knowing what type of home is best for the buyer's specific needs. It helps to break down the pros and cons of each of these home types to get a better idea of what to expect. Read on to learn about the differences between condos, townhomes, and single-family homes and learn which is best for your situation.

Are Condos Good For First-Time Buyers?

A condo is typically an individually owned unit, which could be an apartment-like space in a larger building or a semi-stand-alone home. In condo communities, the buyer purchases a single unit and can maintain and personalize it the way they want, but it may be part of a community association that could have rules that condo owners must follow. These communities have common areas, such as grass areas, parking, or shared patios. The property owners within the community help cover the costs of the areas, and as such, they are not owned outright by one owner.

Pros of Condos

Condos offer buyers several benefits. They tend to have added amenities. For example, the condo community may offer a playground, fitness area, or a pool that members equally share. They also require less maintenance since the condo association typically manages common area maintenance and upkeep.

Also, condos are typically more affordable than traditional detached homes. They may be smaller, but they tend to have a smaller price point than other homes. Though not always the case, many condos are in the heart of urban areas. For example, they may be the ideal type of housing option in the downtown area of a large city.

Cons of Condos

Condos do have a few drawbacks that may impact some owners. For example, they are typically smaller with lower square footage than typical single-family homes (though that's not always the case). Also, condos usually have a community association, which creates rules and regulations that all property owners must follow within the community. There's often a monthly fee paid to the association, as well.

They may offer less overall privacy for those living in them simply because there are more people within the community than would typically be on a neighbourhood street in a single-family area.

Also notable is that condos are harder to sell in some areas, which may mean it's more difficult to move later.

Are Townhomes Good For First-Time Buyers?

Townhomes Give More Space than Condos, More Affordable than Single-Family Homes

Townhomes are another type of property that could be ideal for those who want a few more benefits of traditional single-family homes. What is a townhouse, though? A townhouse is typically a multi-floor property that shares one or more walls with the properties next to them. Buyers individually own these, and they usually have their own yards and outdoor space. Townhomes come in numerous designs, including rowhomes lined up one next to each other.

Pros of Townhomes

Many people like townhomes because they are smaller and more affordable than detached homes. Yet, they are also owned by the property buyer, including any available space outdoors in front of or behind the townhome. Also, because they tend to be multiple floors, they often have more square footage than the average condo, giving home buyers more room to spread out and meet the needs of those living there.

If you like how condos offer community amenities, you'll be glad to know that many townhome communities offer similar amenities. Townhomes are typically part of a larger development, and so may offer amenities such as swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, playgrounds, and more. Townhomes are typically part of a homeowner's association that charges residents monthly or yearly dues. However, these dues go toward maintaining community amenities and building new ones, so it's more like investing in your neighbourhood.

In addition to great amenities, townhomes typically cost less to maintain than single-family homes. This is due to the smaller size of the homes in addition to how they share walls with their neighbours. If your townhome needs new siding, you will only need to purchase it for two or three walls, depending on if your home is positioned on the end or in the middle, instead of four or more walls. And what happens when the roof needs to be replaced? You can talk to all your neighbours about getting a new one and splitting the costs equally among everyone. Things like these lead to lower upkeep costs for homeowners.

Cons of Townhomes

For some, the community association is the biggest concern about purchasing a townhome. This typically means the buyer has to pay fees each month for the association. Another concern is that they are generally in very dense neighbourhoods, which may mean less privacy and more noise. However, it's possible to find smaller townhome communities that don't have this risk.

A key concern for some is the multi-storey design of these properties. For those who do not want steps, this could be a problem. Often, the base layer offers a garage, and then one or two floors are on top of this.

Are Single-Family Homes Good For First-Time Buyers?

A single-family home is typically a structure that's maintained and used as a single unit. Most often, these are detached, which means that, unlike a townhome or condo, they do not share walls with neighbours. They usually sit on land that's owned by the property buyer as well. They have their own entrances and exits not shared by others and pay for their own utilities.

Pros of Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes allow owners to use them as they wish. Owners can make their own decisions about using the house, maintaining it, and styling it. Some properties have outdoor spaces they can use for any reason as well. When it comes to privacy, these homes offer the most among other real estate types. They are available in numerous sizes and styles, allowing buyers to choose a space right for them.

Cons of Single-Family Homes

The hard part of purchasing a single-family home is the maintenance and upkeep, which falls on the shoulders of the property owner. Single-family homes are also typically more expensive to purchase and insure than other strata properties.

Determining the Best Way Forward

Townhomes, condos, and single-family homes are just some of the options that first-time homebuyers can choose from. For those who may be unsure what type of housing style is best for their specific needs, it may help to explore a few different layouts and formats in person to get an idea of what's common within that community. With ample flexibility, buyers are sure to find something that works well for their needs.

Dave Kotler

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