Post # 1
Fiance and I are trying to find our first (starter) home, and we’re under some pressure to get one since our current situation is going to expire sooner that we’d expected (we thought we had until Nov 2011, turns out it has to happen by Feb). We’ve been house shopping for about 4 months now and finally found a place we think we can call home…but it’s a townhouse!
I’ve always lived in a freestanding house and am tentative about moving to a townhouse/development. Any experiences from you bees to help me make this decision?
Post # 3
I grew up in a freehold (no maintenance fees) townhouse and it was nice. We lived in the end unit and only were attached on one side. the layout is definitely different from regular homes, but you can still have alot of space. we never heard our neighbours and they haven’t heard us. my parents also bought it when it was newly developed, so everything was new.
When my hubby and i started looking, i was definitely interested in a townhome, but most of them now have monthly maintenance fees. this is very useful, if your not a handy person or don’t have time to shovel and take care of landscaping. In our city the townhomes are stacked, so you can have another unit above or below you. This is different from what i grew up with, so i wasn’t sure how sound would be. In the end, we ended up going with a regular house since my hubby is handy and didn’t want to pay other people to do what he could do himself.
Post # 4
I live in a condo and hate it.
I love my ACTUAL unit, but the association sucks. If there’s any form of association, and you’re ok with that scrutinize every single piece of Association materials…and after that, do it again.
Our condo docs were all wrong/fabricated.
Association/management of a condo make all the difference. talk to neighbors, and be sure you can live with other people telling you what you can/can’t do and making potentially important financial decisions without your input.
Otherwise, they can be a great way to begin your life in real estate. I could never have bought anything other than a condo at first, so either way I would have had to deal with one!
Post # 5
My family lived in a townhouse until I was about 19. We only shared one wall. We never had problems with it. When Fiance and I are ready to buy we will definitely consider a townhouse. It’s a great starter house.
Post # 6
@jindc: Um, do we live in the same building? 🙂
I moved into FI’s townhome and we both hate it. The association is a nightmare and most likely corrupt and stealing our money. We can’t do ANYTHING (have a grill, make changes to the house, get things repaired, install cable) without their permission. As soon as we can drop the shithole we are moving into a freestanding home or regular apartment. There was also a lot of corruption that went into building our home so we have problems with construction every single month and then need to go through the association to get things repaired.
DEFINITELY talk to the neighbors and find out what the association is like, what is their financial standing (you should ask directly for their budgets, spending records, etc before you buy) – if it’s a nightmare, you’ll hear about it.
Post # 7
Darling Husband had a townhome when we met. I had never lived in one and was unsure. But now I love it. I really think it would depend on the neighbors you have though (ours are awesome).
Post # 8
I bought a townhouse last December. I’m not too crazy about the Homeowners Association, but I definitely don’t hate it. I love my neighborhood and I surprisingly enjoy being so close to my neighbors (I grew up in a neighborhood with large lots and didn’t really ever see the neighbors). My only complaint is that my poor dogs would like a bigger back yard haha
Post # 9
Our first home is condo; we are currently renting it out as a rental. I really liked our condo because it was just the right size for us when we bought it (2 bedrooms/1 bath). We were an end unit (only attached on one wall) and it’s a one-story building, so we didn’t have anyone above or below us. Many condos/townhomes are in an HOA, so you will pay a monthly maintenance fee, but most are pretty minimal (unless you live in a condo that includes utilities in the HOA fee). Also, I LOVED that we never had to do any lawn care, shoveling, or building repairs. In fact, our deck and windows were replaced by the HOA ( at no cost to us) because they were covered under their covenant. Another great thing about condos/townhomes is that insurance is typically cheaper (because you’re only insuring from the stud in) and property taxes are typically cheaper.
If you are looking at a condo, it’s a good idea to get a copy of the HOA covenant ahead of time (your real estate agent can get this for you) and read through it carefully. We looked at several condos before buying ours, and eliminated other contenders because of the rules in their HOA covenants (no pets, no remodeling, no in-suite washer/dryer must use the communal one, etc…).
Post # 10
I used to live in a condo, and I loved it! We had a fantastic association though. They do keep you to their rules and regulations, but I think that’s what made the community feel safe and secure. They kept you updated on everything that was going on, and I felt like my association dues were going towards good things. If I ever had a complaint, they took care of it immediately.
I think that it all depends on your association. If you get a bad one, living in a condo or townhouse can be hellish!
Post # 11
Thanks everyone so far for your comments; they’re very helpful and insightful.
The place we are looking at does have an association, and that’s one of the things that has me hesitating. I read through the covenant (they call it a handbook) twice today and it’s just…kind of icky–mostly it’s stuff like you have to register your pets (for free, I guess they just want to know about them? But why?), you can’t hang laundry outside the building (boo, hiss), you have to park in your own parking spaces, which is all reasonable–but having grown up in a freestanding house it’s so hard to make that transition.
One nice thing about the HOA is that it’s a Board of Trustees who make all decisions, and the Board is elected by the residents of the development. Surely that means we have some say in what goes on?
We talked to one neighbor who loves her condo; she and her husband are going to have to think about moving soon because they have kids and are outgrowing the space, but she says she wants to keep this place as a retreat or buy a place “just like it” since she loves it so much.
The major advantage is that we can actually afford the place, versus single-family houses in our area are either well out of our (minimal) budget or basically falling down. We thought seriously about one place that was just about falling down, but by the time we had the money to make it nice, we basically would be ready to move since it was also quite small. The townhomes are all three floors plus a basement, and the one we might offer for has a finished basement so it’s about 2000 sq. feet of living space–3BR, 2.5ba–with a brand new kitchen. Hard to say no, but it’s still really hard to say yes to the condo fees and rules!
Post # 12
if you live in boston, a townhouse can be a great way to enter the real estate market. sure, the association will be annoying, and you’ll have to do things that you wouldn’t in a freestanding house, but you would have to do those things in an apartment or condo too. make sure you can abide by the rules before buying, but i think a townhouse is a good option where single-family homes are exorbitantly priced.
Post # 13
No – even as a member of the association, you don’t have a say – you can give them your opinion, but they will probably not care about it. Granted, I hate condo associations/HOAs, I personally think the Board just does what’s in their best interest.
However, your bylaws might protect you somewhat (i.e. “anything over a certain percent of budget for spending must be approved”) or whatever. We have that though and they ignored it to redo the building lobby even though our Association is broke….and then we still had to pay almost $3500 for the ‘elevator modernization’. It’s bullshit.
Associations are BS, but I think if you know that going in you might be better off.
Post # 14
I’ve lived in a condo with my mom, and currently co-own my mom’s townhome with her and I used to live in it for a few years. I have to say while they surely have their perks, make sure you look into the homeowner’s association and if possible ask other homeowners how they are to deal with. The association where my mom lives SUCKS so it surely makes some things difficult and she’s hoping to be able to get out of there in a couple of years.
Post # 15
I grew up in a Condo and so did my Hubby and my grandparents also live in one.
Most all condominiums have an association fee. This is and additional amount each month beyond your mortgage, electricity and Taxes. This is strictly money going to the condominium association to pay for (depending on the association) include snow removal, lawn care siding, roofing, water, street and driveway repair. For most people this fee is worth it because they do not have to spend the time mowing the lawn, trimming trees, or having to pay for trees to get cut down after a storm. Even thought you own the unit the property is theirs and that makes it their responsibility to take care of things you would otherwise take care of yourself. (if you lived in a free standing home) This fee can go up for many reasons including fires in the complex or projects they plan to do to the complex.
When buying a home with an association you have to pay very attention to the Bylaws. These are the things you can and cannot do to your property or on your property. A few examples for my dad’s complex 1. No Motorcycles (This was written when a lot of motorcycle wars were going on over 30 years ago but it’s still in the bylaws) 2. You are only allowed one dog. Depending on the person they either hate the bylaws or don’t mind them.
My dad was very interested where the extra $$ was going so he ended up running to be a part of the association council board. He has now been on the board for 7 years and on top of his full time job he helps out at the complex doing odd jobs so they don’t have to outsource and pay someone else to do it.
All associations are different and I’m sure some people have had bad experiences but it all depends on the complex.
I personally did not mind growing up in a condo and I also know my dad really love its.
Post # 16
Also, beware that a lot of neighborhoods come wtih HOA’s now too. Just a forewarning that you may not be able to avoid that even with a freestanding unit.
One house we looked into needed a ton of landscaping. Turns out the bylaws of the neighborhood said that the HOA had to approve the removal of any tree greater than 3″ in diameter. Uh, forget that!