Profile picture for LJFDA

what is the definition of townhouse (versus condo) for this site?

  • January 23 2011 - Acton
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Answers (12)

Profile picture for myaggie2
Thankx SunnyView. You answered my questions!
  • October 11
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"Are there restrictions or something to a townhouse that don't apply to buying a home?"

Yes there are. Townhomes have fees just like condos and they have a governing body to enforce rules. Many houses do not have association fees or if they do they tend to be lower unless you are in a golf course or gated community.

"Such as, are you allowed to fence in the lot for pets? Can you add on to the townhouse?"

No you are not allowed to fence or landscape common areas in townhouse communities with rare exception. Outdoor space are to be kept to the community standard and private fences are generally not allowed. You also cannot change the outside of a townhome in most cases. 

Any remodeling must be contained to the inside and it is rare to have any additional square footage approved. What you see in a townhouse is what you get. You can change the inside all you want, but the outside belongs to the community. Also many townhomes may have restrictions on leasing that single family home do not.
  • October 11
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Profile picture for myaggie2
It sounds to me as if there is no difference in buying a townhouse or purchasing a home. Are there restrictions or something to a townhouse that don't apply to buying a home? Such as, are you allowed to fence in the lot for pets? Can you add on to the townhouse?
  • October 11
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I believe the legal answer may vary from state to state. In Nevada, the generally accepted definition of a condo is this: All of the airspace inside the exterior walls of the unit plus a share of all the common area.
The generally accepted definition of a town home is: 100% ownership of a piece of land and 100% ownership of the unit built upon the property plus a share of the common area.
The difference is this: In a condo, because it is the airspace inside the exterior walls, it means that you could have units above and/or below you and that all the real property within the Condo association is commonly owned including the land your unit may sit upon. In a town home, you own 100% of the real estate (land) that your unit sits upon plus a share of all the common area. Because you own 100% of the land your unit sits upon, no other ownership unit could exist above or below you....and yes, most town homes are two story by design.
I recognize that the term "Town home" is often used as a design description, especially in the east.
In Nevada, it's typical that the Condo association would be responsible for maintenance roof as it would be common area whereas, in a town home, it's typical that the owner of the unit would be responsible for maintenance of the roof as they own 100% of it (They own the entire building).  
  • November 16 2013
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Profile picture for user1782363
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  • May 13 2013
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Condo only describes the ownership. Townhouse describes the design.
Condos can be highrise, midrise, patios homes, townhomes or even detached homes. With a townhouse, you own the LOT, and have a lot#. It may be a zero lot line or have setbacks, but you own the entire lot. The structures are two story, attached, consisting of at least 2 but no more than 6 dwellings. With a condo you have a unit number rather than lot number.  On a plat, your unit or homesite dimensions are the exact same as the perimeter of the unit/structure. You own nothing more than the space within the walls of the structure. However; you also have joint, undivided interest/ownership in any and all common areas/spaces contained in the project. Sidewalks, driveways, parks, green spaces, play grounds, etc.  Many developer master deeds refer to "ABC Townhomes" as project names and lenders get mislead. What you should look for to know for certain is if the project is set up as a Horizontal Property Regime. The Master Deed or planning and zoning dept. can tell you this.  HPR allows for greater density in areas where current zoning requires a minimum lot size. The result is attached dwellings utilizing all of the space/homesite. In lieu of this high density allowance, planning dept mandates that the developer allocates a percentage of land to be utilized by the unit owners, refereed to as common areas, in which they each own an undivided portion.  So if you see HPR, the subsequent effect of that application ALWAYS results in condominium ownership. Style or design have nothing to do with it. Example: If you have a lot that exceeds minimum lot size for dwellings, and build a guest house, separate apartment, mom-in-law, finish out a garage to living area, etc with its own utility connections and DID NOT subdivide the site because it would result in being below minimum requirements for site size, then a HRP MUST be applied to make it legal, conforming and then since no one knows where their yard ends and begins, or where the boundary line is, (because there is not one) they share and undivided interest in the site as a whole while reserving sole ownership of the area directly beneath their structure and within their respective walls. You are left with a residential site in the middle of an SFR area, host to two homes that is is now a condominium.  Again, condo is ownership, not design. Another sure way to identify if a property is condo or not as if the project or attached row of dwellings share the same parcel number. However, if they have their own parcel number, it can still be a HPR/condo. But never will more than one property share a parcel number with another individually owned property unless its a condo. Oh, and BTW... PUD has nothing to do with either... it is exclusively a city, county or state government zoning category.
  • May 08 2012
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Reallyfedup is correct. It has to do woth ownership. When you own a townhome, you own the land it sits on. When you own condo, you do not own and land, save for the common areas like pool, workout rooms, recreational land, etc., which are owned collectively. When you own a condo, you own from the paint to everything inside. The association, or the collection of all the owners in the condominum project, owns from the drywall out and all the common areas collectively. When you own a condo, you are responsible for repairs, and insurance from the paint in. When you own a townhome, you are responsible for the entire building, interior and exteroir. In either case you may have an assocition with rules and regulations as to what you may do to the property to keep it in line with the other adjacent units.
  • January 25 2011
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Profile picture for shapiroamg
condo is a type of ownership. townhouse is a style of condo. I would define townhouse as more than one story and having its own entrance (rather than walking though a lobby and hallways).
  • January 25 2011
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Profile picture for Reallyfedup
The main difference with a condo vs. a townhome is that with a condo, you own the unit and sometimes a percentage of the common areas.  Usually the building is similar to that of an apartment building.  One main entrance with common areas such as a lobby and hallways. 

With a townhouse, you own both the structure and the land on which it sits.  The townhouse is not considered free standing, so the "the land on which it sits" is limited to the front and back yards.  Usually they are connected in a row with individual front and back entrances.
  • January 23 2011
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A townhouse is a condominium with more than one level
  • January 23 2011
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Usually a townhouse has two or more levels. Condo refers to ownership type but can have many different styles. If it does not say townhouse it usually means a garden style unit which is similar to an apartment.
  • January 23 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
I don't know that there is a hard-and-fast rule, but my understanding has always been that townhouses only share walls, where condos also share floors and ceilings.
  • January 23 2011
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