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Townhouse vs. House: What Are the Differences?



Are you ready to put down roots in your community? Buying your first place can be daunting, especially as the housing market continues to fluctuate.

In your quest to find the perfect property, you might wonder what the exact differences are between townhouses and houses. Is one more affordable than the other? What other features set them apart?

To help you narrow your options, today we’re sharing the ultimate townhouse vs. house guide!

What Is a Townhouse?

Before we dive into the specifics of choosing a house or townhouse, let’s start by answering a basic question: What is a townhouse?

In short, this is a type of property that tends to be smaller than a single-family home. It is usually a narrow, multi-floor residence that shares one to two walls with an adjacent residence but has its own entrance.

Depending on the area you visit, you might find that adjoining townhomes all share the same aesthetics and exterior features. Some townhome communities might also be governed by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), much like you’d find in a single-family neighborhood.

It’s common to find rows of townhomes attached to one another on a single block. As a buyer, you’ll own the townhome itself, as well as its outside facade. In addition, you’ll also own the land that it sits on.

Some townhomes include a spacious front yard and a back yard or patio. Others have less green space, especially in the city.

Pros of Owning a Townhouse

Buying a townhouse can be beneficial for homeowners who want to save a little money without sacrificing their own space. A few of the advantages include:

  • Typically less expensive than detached homes
  • Less hands-on maintenance required
  • Sense of community
  • Access to shared amenities (e.g. pool, workout facility, clubhouse)

Cons of Owning a Townhouse

If you want space to spread out and value your privacy, then a townhouse might not be for you. A few of the drawbacks include:

  • Less interior and exterior space
  • Greater risk of noise
  • Less privacy
  • Potential HOA fees

While these might sound like negative attributes, they’re usually not enough to deter curious homebuyers. Townhouses can be ideal starter homes and also make excellent retirement properties.

What Is a House?

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to cover the exact definition of a house. This is a detached, single-family property that can be built in a variety of different architectural styles.

You’ll find houses in a range of sizes, layouts, and price points. They can be as small as a single-story hut or as sprawling as a hundred-room mansion. This can make the process of choosing a house especially challenging!

While you’ll usually have more space and square footage in a house, this isn’t always the case. There are some super small houses that will be more cramped than a large, spacious townhouse. If interior space is your main concern, be sure to ask your real estate agent to share the specific details of each property you browse.

One aspect that sets a house apart from a townhouse is its ability to have multiple detached structures. For instance, you may have a shed or garage on your property, as well as a barn, in-law suite, or storage building.

If you’re eyeing a house to escape HOA fees, don’t assume they aren’t there. Especially in urban and suburban neighborhoods, detached homes will require these fees, though they tend to be minimal. Compared to townhome communities that include shared amenities, HOA fees for a house will usually cover fewer services, including:

  • Snow removal
  • Trash removal
  • Landscaping services

Pros of Owning a House

There are benefits to owning your own house, where you have a degree of space and separation from neighbors. Here are the top reasons to buy a house:

  • Control over interior and exterior
  • Usually more living space and green space
  • No shared walls (more privacy)
  • Minimal HOA fees (if any)

Most buyers appreciate the idea that they can design their house just the way they prefer. As long as you keep your projects within local zoning laws and ordinances, you’re free to work on your house however you’d like. Strict townhouse HOAs might not give you the same degree of creative control.

If these sound like the benefits you need, then check out houses for sale over here!

Cons of Owning a House

Not sure if a house is right for you? The answer might be no if you consider these drawbacks to be dealbreakers:

  • Responsible for all maintenance and upkeep
  • No access to shared amenities
  • Higher buying price
  • Can be more difficult to find what you want

It can be difficult to find a single-family house in the exact location you prefer. If you know that you want to stay within a certain area, then you can usually find more options if you’re willing to buy a townhouse instead.

While the biggest disadvantage of owning a house is that you’re required to handle the maintenance, keep in mind that some HOAs will cover these services. You may also have access to shared neighborhood facilities, such as a pool or gym.

However, these extra perks will usually come at a price, and you’ll see that reflected in your HOA fees.

Townhouse vs. House: Which One Wins?

In the townhouse vs. house debate, there is no clear winner. As you can see by this guide, there are pros and cons to each type of residential unit. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little privacy and space for minimal maintenance and community features, then a townhouse can be ideal.

However, if you prioritize square footage and outdoor space, then you’ll want to look at houses instead. Even with HOA fees, they’re usually better-suited for families looking to spread out.

Looking for more lifestyle news you can trust? Check out our other posts for extra inspiration.

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