Condos and Townhouses – What’s the Difference?

There have often been multiple questions asked about the differences between condominiums and townhouses. People tend to confuse these two types of residences as they have several similarities. This article will discuss features of both townhouses and condominiums that will help you distinguish one from the other.

Firstly, a condominium, popularly known as a condo, is a form of real estate ownership and not an actual building. A townhouse on the other hand is a type of building- and is a physical structure.

When a single unit of air space exists inside multiple units of residence and shares a number of common amenities including things such as recreational centres, swimming pools, gyms, and so on, and this is all commonly owned by owners of each residential unit, this concept of ownership is called a condominium.

Townhouses are residential structures that are attached to each other by means of common walls and are at least two stories high. An older version of townhouses are what was known as ‘brownhouses’ or ‘row houses’ in the olden days.

Similarities- The main similarities between condominiums and townhouses are that a townhouse could have what is called condominium ownership. This is because if you own a structure with all the land that it tied to it, it called ownership of a townhouse but the concept of the ownership is called a condominium.

Differences- you can see the primary differences between townhouses and condominiums once you look at the ownership and the common areas of the residential units. When it comes to a townhouse, you can be the owner of the living space i.e. the townhouse as well as all other space and land associated with the house. In a condominium however, you are the owner of the ‘air=space’ that is contained within the residential unit.

When it comes to structural elements of the unit such as walls, roofs, halls and common amenities such as recreational clubs, gyms, swimming pools and so on, the owners of the condominium each have an equal share of ownership. In a townhouse community however, all common elements are written in the name of the Home owners Association or the HOA. While the townhouse owners are a part of the HOA, the do not own any part of the common amenities.

Another point of difference between these two types of residences is the concept of ‘Limited Common Elements’. This concept is seen only in condominiums wherein things like parking spaces, balconies, and patios are owned commonly by everyone but only a select few individuals are allowed to use these amenities. In a townhouse however, the owner of the townhouse owns their own balcony and parking space.

To summarise, both townhouses and condominiums fall under the category of Common Interest Communities. This category consists of real estate that is owned commonly and is maintained with money collected from all common shareholders. Because they both belong to the same category, there is quite a bit of confusion. The main difference to keep in mind however is that a townhouse is a physical type of architectural style whereas a condominium is an abstract form of real estate ownership.

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