Provo Condominium or Provo Townhome: Which One is Right for You?
While this guide focuses on the Provo, Utah townhome and condominium market, this information can be used regardless of where you are in the United States. Here are the 3 most important factors that you should consider when examining the differences between townhomes and condominiums.
1. Differences and Similarities between Townhomes and Condos
The first factors to consider before deciding between condominiums and townhomes are their differences and similarities. Superficially, condominiums and townhomes are more alike than unlike, but with a closer examination of the details, buyers can make more informed decisions before settling on one or the other.
The word 'condominium' is Latin, meaning 'common ownership' or 'common control.' A condominium is simply an 'apartment' that the resident owns as opposed to rents, in common ownership with other condo residents in the community. Condominium residents own the space inside their own walls, which means they can paint or alter them as they wish. They do not, however, own the areas outside of their homes. These areas are called “common areas', and generally include shared hallways, parking lots, the land on which the condominium development sits, and any amenities on premises for the enjoyment of residents.
A townhouse is an independent, single family unit that shares walls with their neighboring townhome. Townhomes tend to be built in rows of multiple units that range from two to three stories tall. Ownership in townhomes consists not only of the unit, but also includes the land on which the unit sits. A townhome typically expands on the advantages of condominiums by offering more space and privacy; townhomes have private entrances and exits, whereas condominiums frequently have community entrances and exits that secure the building.
2. Townhouse Association Fees
The fees associated with townhome and condominium ownership can be major defining factors in your purchasing decision. Both townhomes and condominiums are part of a “Homeowners Association” (HOA) that collects fees for the complex management and upkeep. These fees range from snow removal and lawn care to sanitation and amenities. When considering a particular community, we recommend you obtain a list of these services and associated fees and decide whether they are important to you. Depending on the type of structure, condominium fees may be higher than those for townhomes since they may cover heating and air conditioning, security, and the cosmetic profile of the property.
Taxes can also be a big consideration in deciding between condominiums and townhomes. Condominium owners are liable for taxation on the unit itself, and a share of the taxes assessed on the complex and its amenities. By comparison, townhome owners are liable for the taxes on the unit itself, the land upon which the unit sits, and a percentage of community amenities, if any.
Provo condominium and townhome fees are regulated under the Utah Condominium Ownership Act, Title 57, Chapter 8, Section 6.3
3. Long Term Considerations
Before deciding which housing unit is right for you, there are three main long-term considerations you should take into account: family growth, your health issues, and potential changes in your career or earnings:
- Family growth: If you are planning on starting a family in the near future, townhomes have two distinct advantages over condominiums: townhomes afford owners with more privacy than condominiums, and townhomes are multi-story dwellings. This is an important consideration, as the separation of floors makes it easier to entertain on ground floors while reserving upper and lower levels as private family spaces.
- Health issues: If you have faced health issues in the past that affect your mobility, townhomes are less likely to feature amenities you may need to rely on in the event of a relapse. Condominiums are typically outfitted with handicap accessible ramps and elevators. Additionally, since townhomes are multi-story units, those who face problems of mobility will find their layouts to be impractical.
- Changes in Career and Earnings: If you are anticipating an increase in your future short-term earnings or are planning a career change, condominiums can offer distinct advantages and disadvantages over townhomes. Provo is known for its student population, and these condo-living students have sustained the Provo condominium market despite the recent economic downturn. If you are anticipating on graduating and remaining in the area, this strong local condominium market will protect and appreciate your investment. However, if you are planning on leaving the Provo area, understand that with local market conditions it takes much longer to sell a condominium than to sell a townhome
If you have done your due diligence in analyzing the differences, similarities, fees, and long-term considerations associated with condominiums and townhomes, you should be in an excellent position to make an informed decision. Remember that all real estate is local, so if you are leaving the Provo area check the market trends of your destination city before making your final choice.