The Differences Between a Condominium and a Townhouse

Under condominium ownership each owner holds a title to the living space of the common elements (interior walls, floors and ceilings). Each owner receives an individual tax bill and may mortgage the unit. Expenses for operating the building are collected by the association, most often on a monthly basis. These are called Condominium Association fees which cover general repairs and maintenance to the common areas of the complex (the foundation, exterior walls and roof). In some cases any common areas and amenities such as swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, play areas, along with heat and hot water are included.
In New York State, a condominium property is customarily administered by an association of unit owners or a board of managers that are elected by the unit owners. The board may manage the property on its own or engage a professional property manager. Owners pay monthly charges for maintenance purposes.

Is a Condominium for You?
• Do you want absolutely nothing to do with exterior maintenance and repairs?
• Do you like the idea of amenities, but not the idea of having to pay for them on your own?
• Do you like the feeling of security with numerous and close by neighbors?
Townhouse occupants own the land directly beneath their unit and the living unit including the roof and basement. Occasionally a small lawn or patio is individually owned as well. The term townhouse, as it refers to shared housing, describes a type of ownership rather than an architectural style. Although the organization is similar to condominiums, townhouses often take on the term of “attached row houses.” Most often townhouse owners also pay a monthly fee to the Homeowners’ Association which covers common area maintenance and may cover exterior maintenance, master insurance, etc.

Is a Townhouse for You?
• Do you like the idea of your “space” but not having to deal with most exterior maintenance?
• Is a small backyard or deck just about all the yard you need?
• Does the idea of having neighbors close by not really bother you — you just don’t want them above and below as well as next to you?

It’s important that you investigate an association when you buy a condominium or townhouse. Both associations are required to file a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions. The declaration is referred to as the bylaws, and it is recommended that you request a copy to review in which it discloses precisely how the association is to be structured, its duties and responsibilities and what restrictions are placed on all owners as to acceptable modifications and improvements to their individual units.

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