Home Buyers: Should You Buy a House, Condo, or Townhome?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to move up to your dream home, the question of whether you should buy a house, condo, or townhome is an important one. There are pros and cons for each type of property, but ultimately, any of these options are great—it just depends on what you are looking for! Here are a few things to consider when deciding what type of property you should buy:

What’s the Difference Between a Single-Family Home, Condo, and a Townhome?

A single-family home is what most people think of when they talk about buying a house. These are stand-alone structures set on a foundation. Single-family homes range from one-story ranch homes to multi-story houses with basements or attic spaces.


A condo is a unit within a larger structure, such as a high-rise building. These are similar to apartments, but instead of renting, individuals buy a unit.

A townhome is a happy in-between of a single-family home and a condo. Townhomes usually have smaller footprints with multiple floors. Like condos, they share exterior walls with neighboring homes within the community. They may have their own yard or attached garage.


What Can You Afford?

When deciding what kind of property you ultimately want to buy, one consideration should be cost. Single-family homes tend to be the more expensive purchase option. Condos tend to be cheapest out of the three, making them an affordable choice for first-time homebuyers. Townhomes, since they have shared exterior walls, but offer more privacy than a condo, tend to land somewhere in between. However, condo and townhome communities usually have Homeowners Associations. That means you’ll likely pay monthly dues for upkeep of the community, which adds to your monthly cost. And regardless of what you buy if you’re buying in a newer community, you may also have to pay Mello-Roos fees. All these costs can really add up and impact what you can afford to purchase!


How Much Space Do You Need?

The amount of space you need is a crucial factor when deciding what type of home to purchase. Single-family homes tend to be larger since they don’t have any shared walls and can be multi-story. Condos tend to offer the smallest square footage out of the three. Townhomes, again, fall in the middle. If you have a large family, you may need to opt for a single-family home, but a condo or townhome is a great option if you’re just starting out!


Do You Need Space To Grow?

In addition to how much space you need now, consider how much space you’ll need in the future. Single-family homes and townhomes tend to be larger, making them perfect if your family is growing. Additionally, since single-family homes are stand-alone structures, it’s much easier to make modifications to the structure that will allow you to expand your house in the future (pending permit approval of course). Condos and townhomes, with shared exterior walls, do not offer that same freedom.

How Much Maintenance Do You Want to Do?

Maintenance can be a pain, and how much you want to do can factor into what type of home you purchase. In a single-family home, you alone are responsible for the maintenance of your house. When you add up all of the things that need to be done like lawn care, gutter cleaning, HVAC service, and other routine maintenance, a home can start to feel like more trouble than its worth. In contrast, condos and townhomes usually come with HOAs that help with some of the upkeep. These HOAs usually take responsibility for any maintenance that needs to be done for shared portions of your home, such as walls and roofs. They also generally take care of landscaping needs. Buying in a condo or townhouse community can help relieve the burden of maintenance, making it a great choice for those who lead busy lives or travel frequently.


Do You Want to Customize Your Home?

When it comes to making modifications to your property, single-family homes give you the most flexibility. You’ll still need to go through the permitting process, but you have a lot more freedom to conceive of extensive renovations for your home. In contrast, condos and townhomes have many more limits. You can add rooms to a single-family home, but not in a condo or townhouse. Additionally, condos and townhomes often come with HOAs that may restrict what type of modifications you are allowed to do, both inside and out. If you are interested in doing a lot of renovating and personalization of your property, a single-family home may be the best choice for you.


Do You Want Community Amenities?

If you are looking for a home with built-in amenities, a condo or townhome is your best bet. Condo and townhouse communities tend to offer great amenities like a clubhouse, pool, spa, playground, or gym. The close proximity to your neighbors also makes it easy to build a community, since many HOAs will host events each month that are designed to allow residents to get to know one another. This is usually not the case in neighborhoods of single-family homes. There may be little to no community amenities offered and it falls entirely on the residents to make an effort to get to know their neighbors.



Whether you are looking to buy a single-family home, a condo, or a townhouse in San Diego—we’re here to help! Give The Roby Company a call at (858) 748-8002 or email us at team@therobycompany.com to discuss what you’re looking for.


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About the Author

Home Buyers: Should You Buy a House, Condo, or Townhome?

Stacy Roby

My goal as a Realtor is to provide professional, individualized service to my clients with the most current market information. I eagerly accept the challenge of addressing each client’s situation and assist them with finding the right solution. My lifelong pursuit of knowledge is the driving force to further my education about real estate market trends and technology. The topics learned will be shared with my clients to assist them in making the decisions that are correct for them.