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Is it important to own the land on which the town home is built?

We have two options to buy a townhome style condo where we dont own the land on which its build or go for a townhome where we own the land on whihc its built.
Which is better? Both are in decent locality and have same square foot area.
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May 18 2009 - Santa Clara
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Answers (6)

I don't think owning the land gives you much more value unless you can do something with it. But something else to consider is the financing aspect. Lenders currently have higher interest rate for condo if you put less than 25% down payment. They don't consider townhouse-style condo different from apartment-style condo. Lenders are putting all condos in more risky category. And who knows what other requirements they will have in the future.
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August 04 2009
Hello Kulki:

There are enormous differences between the condominium and the planned development. First, it is not simply the land that you own, when you on a townhouse styled home in a planned development--but you also own the building as well.  In this type of construction, you have no overlapping airspaces (meaning that no part of your home crosses or overlaps the adjoining property).  It also means, however, that you own the home from the land to the top of the roof.  While the homeowners association may have maintenance easements across your property to maintain the roof and painting the building exteriors, YOU as the homeowner have the ultimate responsibility for all damages to the roof and the stucco or wood siding walls.  If there is termite damage to the exterior of the home, you (and the others in your building) will have to jointly pay for tenting--the homeowners association will not perform this job because it the building is not "common area."

On the other hand, in a condominium, the homeowners association (rather than you) own the land and the building.  As a result, the owner maintains only the interior space within the home and the items inside te interior space.  The homeowners association owns the areas behind the walls, the attic, the exteriors, the pipes in the walls, and the land outside the home.  Condominiums are typically slightly more competitvely priced than are similar homes in a planned development because the homeowner does not own the building or the land. 

Depending on whether you wish to own the building or not, you may choose a condominium or a planned development.  I will opine, however, that most buyers would prefer to the own the building and the land because of the greater level of control that the homeowner may exert across his property.

Good luck!  If you should need any other help, please contact me.
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May 28 2009
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could you please explain whats mean by zone?
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May 20 2009
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Thanks for your answer. The condo place is giving a lot of free upgrades. There we will own a percentage of the land. But not directly the land under the townhome. In the other place we will directly own the land under the townhome. I dont really know the land prices. How can I figure that out? One place is  in milpitas,ca and other is in santa clara, ca.
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May 20 2009
It's important if it's important to you.  Which unit do you prefer?  What are the amenities offered in one versus the other?  How much land are we talking about? 

What's land going for where you are considering buying?  Is there another best use of land better than what it's zoned now?  Could it ever get rezoned?   And if it does what would they have to do to get the land rezoned if you own the condo?
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May 19 2009
This is a matter of personal preference. Here are some things to think about:
If you don not own the land, who does?Most likely the land will be owned by an HOA (Home Owners Association) and your rights as an owner would be similar to those of a condominium owner. The HOA will have quite a bit of authority in what you can and cannot do with the land surrounding your TH. You may not be able to have a garden for example, or walk your dog, etc. Other people may also be able to use the land if they wish. The only thing that you technicaly own is the from the walls in.
If you do own the land, an HOA may still have some say in how you use it, but it is yours to enjoy exclusively. Your neighbors can't let their dogs pee in your yard. Generaly, you can make the decision as to what to do with it for landscaping, although I'm sure the HOA will have some guidlines.
Additionally for myself, I like the security of knowing that I own the land that i live on. It gives me piece of mind that there will never be some other owner that can come and say, "Well it's been fun, but I'm going to use my land for something else now."
As unlikely as that scenario may sound, why risk it?
-Mike
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May 19 2009
 
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