Town Homes or Stand Alones

Where can a person find out more information about the pros and cons of owning a town home versus a typical single family home? I need a lot more information to make an informed choice.
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Buying a town home is is far more likely to involve a Home Owners' Association, some of which have draconian rules enforced by neighborhood Nazis, such that you may wonder who really owns the place you paid for. Situations of which I have read include: a limitation of how many guests you may have staying in your home and for how long; a ban on flying the US flag; a court case over a house repainted with the same color paint used by the original builder when everybody else's has faded; etc.
Allegedly, some HOAs have even refused to let prospective purchasers see the rules before they have actually signed on the dotted line, by which time it's too late to back out if they find something intolerable.
Perce
On 10/24/05 10:05 pm DS tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

I've seen a lot of the "condominium association from hell", with board members who are true goons, and unit owners who could not be less concerned as long as they get their personal agenda. If I told you a bit of what has happened, you wouldn't believe me. Florida land values have brought us investors who get a spot on the board, refuse to maintain or repair, and flip the property for 100$ profit.
AT MINIUMUM, if you consider purchase of either a condo or hoa governed property, read the applicable statutes and the documents for the org. Florida has separate statutes for hoa's and condo assns. The condo or hoa is governed by the documents - bylaws, rules, etc. The assn. itself may not give you access to records, but the seller can and I would insist on it. Their board meeting minutes and rules enforcement records (could be board or committee or management company) should give you a good idea of issues and how they are handled.
Thinking about what has transpired in our condo assn. makes my hands shake so badly it is hard to type. No joke. Like being assaulted for shutting off sprinkler because company is coming on Good Friday evening, and having cops who don't do paperwork, no matter what. Having city code addressed by folks who can't spot a leaky roof, even if it is ready to fall on their heads. Code insepctors who respond to complaints of rats in attic by inspecting an AC duct and finding a "dust ball".

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He didn't mention condo. A town home is not necessarily a condo although it may involve issues in shared ownership of common walls, hot water heaters, etc. Even a single family house can have a mandatory HOA.
From long and bitter experience, I suggest that the condo form of ownership can be the worst if you have serious building problems, or you find it difficult to work with people on your condo board. Once you buy in, you have no control over who your potential neighbors are or if you have a condo board from hell. If the board decides assess each unit $10,000 and paint the place pink, you have to pay it!
Townhouses involve living in situations where you share common walls and landscaping features. You may or may not be assessed for common area expenses.
Townhouses can be good if you like your neighbors and don't mind living in close proximity with them.
A house, on the other hand, is always your castle. You still have risks though. You may get drunken no-good neighors who steal your newspapers and let their dogs go on your lawn. You are responsible for all maintenance issues. The maintenance cost is typically higher since you don't have other units with which to spread them around. You may need to personally invest in a lawn mower, snow thrower. You and you alone pay for the water bill, the sewer bill, the garbage bill, etc.
Beachcomber
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clipped

Any kind of multi-family building can operate as a condo, although one thinks of one building with a bunch of units.

A large condominium association, operated by a management company with paid staff would probably be less likely to have the savages on the board. I would, for sure, avoid brand new ones, especially in Florida. Florida had some large communities a few years back where the buyers, after about 5-10 years ended up paying, in assessments, almost the orig. purchage price to correct major damage due to construction defects.
Same builder has a two year old condo undergoing major construction due to same problem, but caught before severe damage was done. President of that condo board is an attorney. Proof there is a God. :o)

Around here, a townhouse can be part of a condo or an hoa. Could be an hoa owned by a condo association. :o)

Should require that both smoke or don't smoke, and both like or dislike loud music :o) But, then, you get into what kind of loud music. I like opera and Meatloaf :o)

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You will have to look at each devopment. Some will have an HOA some may not. Most townhouses and Condos do have HOA's. Costs for the HOA vary hugely. I spent 6 months on a HOA board before I sold my home and moved. The place was headed into the ground as far as I could see.
Check with a local realestate agent for more information in the area your looking at.
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==========I suggest you simply sit down and think !
Bob G.
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A pro for you may be a con for me. So much depends on your life style. I've lived in both and much prefer my privacy. I like my neighbors but they are even nicer with a couple hundred feet of space between us. Maybe when I'm very old and in poor health I'd want a smaller house with less maintenance.
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Bob G. wrote:

Easier to do when someone has information to consider - "community" settings can be a very unpleasant surprise for folks who are unfamiliar.
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First, any kind of home can be in an HOA or be a Condominium; single family, townhouse, or multi unit high rise. It only has to do with the type of ownership, not the type of structure.
You asked about single family vs. town home (or 'attached single family', as they've started calling them in my area).
Town house: Pro: Cheaper. Less maintenence. Often easier to sell. Little or no yard work. Con: Many many more neighbors. Smaller. Limited parking. Noise. Steaming piles of dog shit all over the place. Car alarms. Barking dogs. Rude neighbors. Poor construction. No yard. Smell everyone's cooking. Still feels like an apartment.
Single Family: Pro: Your own castle where you can do what you want when you want how you want. Larger. Quiet. Neighbors can be louder and you won't notice. You can be louder without bothering others. More parking. Have as many friends over as you want. Windows on every side. Potential for additions and renovations. Better floor plans. etc. Con: Costs more. Higher maintenence. More yard work (except that mowing grass is fun when it's your own lawn).
I had a townhouse for a while and absolutely hated it. I dumped the place for a single family home and would never ever go back.
-rev
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Lots of good info here. I live in Minnesota. As one poster mentioned, you may not see the rules for the association till you sign on the dotted line, but the buyer's broker I am working with tells me in this state you get 10 days to agree to them or you can back out of the deal, no strings attached. In this state the work on your home is year round. The snow removal can be a bugger after a 10 hour day and lawn work; once you get it the way you want it's time to start the every weekend chore of raking leaves. The four seasons here take their toll on the exterior as well. I am beginning to hate the exterior maintenance with my work schedule. It's hard enough to maintain the inside and be able to relax on a weekend or go out of town for that matter. Townhouse are catching on in this area due to that. I see more of them going up all the time. The new ones have some very attractive and efficient floor plans with square footage in the areas of 1,400 to 1,700 with a 2 stall attached garage with insulated and sheet rocked walls for about 50k less than a regular house. I am only looking at town homes, either row styles or quads. I am not thinking about a condo/apartment unit. I have never belonged to an association, but have lived in an apartment and didn't like that too much, but it was a cheapy with paper thin walls. I am told that new town homes have better noise insulation with double walls and a one inch air space between them; but I still wonder about end units versus the middle ones. Are middle units more energy efficient due to less windows and exterior walls? In the models I have looked at they always have a extra neat feature on the inside units to make them more attractive; an extra big master bedroom or something you can't get on an end unit. My biggest fear is someone learning to play a musical instrument next door. I had a kid across the street learning the drums one summer and that was driving me nuts from 100 yards away. My reasons for the consideration of a townhouse; no more mowing, no more maintaining mower, no more snow removal, no more maintaining snow blower, no more shed full of yard tools, chemicals, and hose, no more raking, no more cleaning gutters, no more exterior painting, caulking, driveway repair, and landscaping. It's hard to find the time lately to keep up the inside and I am not getting any younger. Thanks for all the info everyone. Anything anyone has to say, good or bad, is something to use.
Dave

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DS wrote:

I'll be damned Iif I'm signing anything not seeing the rules ahead of time. That sounds like a very shady deal to me. What are they hiding? Of course, I'd never belong to a HOA either.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/




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Yes, that bugs me to. Why so secret? They other thing is they vary on what is included. Some include everything, insurance, garbage, snow, lawn, sewer and water to boot. Your only extras are insurance to cover your goods (very, very cheap policy) and cable/internet. Some run more due to a pool, exercise facility or other things like a party room and the like. I noticed when the new airport runway was announced most of the new construction in the noise path dropped 10 to 20 grand today. I guess if you are already deaf it's a deal. Home prices here are still going down every place in general though. I get e-mails daily for reduced prices on my watch lists.
Dave

time.
course,
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On the news today, in MA the median price of a house is down 4% from a month or two ago, but still higher than October of last year. Median price was $370k
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