If you’re currently renting, you might feel intimidated by the thought of maintaining your own home. After all, your landlord typically takes care of everything, right? That’s why townhomes are a great option for first time homebuyers. They are usually easier to maintain and are part of a built-in planned community. Townhomes may offer a more affordable price point as well for those who haven’t yet purchased their first home.
What exactly is a townhome?
Townhomes are typically two or more levels and share one or two adjoining walls with other townhomes (aka party walls). Townhome owners own the structure and the land below the structure. Typically the land around a townhouse building is common use. Townhomes are kind of like a hybrid between a single family home and an apartment.
Typically, townhomes are part of a homeowner’s association (HOA). That means that monthly fees (paid for by the homeowners) cover some or all of the cost of maintenance. These can range from $100 to over $300 a month depending on what’s covered and the amenities included.
Snow removal, yard care, and even exterior updates such as paint and a new roof will likely be covered with your HOA fees. Sometimes homeowners’ insurance is either partly or completely covered. If you’re considering a townhome for your first or next purchase, make sure to ask about the HOA fees and what’s included.
Insurance for a townhome is likely different than a single family home or an apartment if you’re renting. You will want to make sure you are fully covered for personal property and liability within your home. Find out if the common grounds and exterior of the building is covered under an insurance policy managed by the HOA. You’ll want to find out what’s included in your fees and what’s not and make sure to cover any gap. Your lender will also require you to be covered by an insurance policy in case of default on the mortgage.
Covenants and Restrictions
As with any HOA, make sure to ask your realtor or builder for a copy of the CC&R’s (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions). This is a legal document that describes the rules and policies governed by the townhome HOA. You’ll want to know what is expected of you when you purchase a home with an HOA. There will likely be sections written about pets, fencing, landscaping, exterior alterations, enforcement, and other common aspects. Be sure to ask any questions up front about these as when buying the home, you also agree to abide by the CC&Rs. CC&Rs are created to protect each neighbor’s common interest and property value by ensuring that the community’s intentioned purpose, living environment, and aesthetic are maintained and enforced.
Speaking of planned communities, townhomes are usually clustered to create a sense of community amongst their owners. Living in close proximity means you have the benefit of knowing your neighbors, helping each other out, watching over pets while on vacation, or impromptu summer BBQs. Townhomes foster neighbor friendships by providing common spaces to gather whether that be a park, a community center, or trails throughout the community.
If you’re worried about maintaining your first home or feel uncertain at all about owning, you might consider a townhome instead of a single family home. Benefits include: low-maintenance, protected property value due to HOA governance, and a strong sense of community. Many of our first time homebuyers love starting out in a townhome because they are more affordable and are easy to care for.