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By Steve Colvin | Agent in Laguna Niguel, CA

The difference between Condo and Townhouse

If you've been shopping for real estate you have probably run across listings for both condos and townhouses. At first glance the two might appear to be the same thing.  However, although they are similar in many ways there are some key differences.


When you buy a condo, you get the title to your individual unit in the building, but not to the land that it sits on. Since the land is not sold with the condo it means that the units can be stacked one on top of the other so you can have upstairs or downstairs neighbors.  Condos can also be completely detached. 

Any public spaces are jointly owned by all the condo owners in the complex. These common spaces include the land and grounds, hallways, parking structures, etc. Essentially anything outside your specific unit is considered common space and is owned by all the condo owners.


Much like condos, when you buy a townhouse you are buying a specific unit within a complex. However, there are some key differences. Probably the biggest difference is that with a townhouse not only do you own your unit, but you also own the land that it sits on. That means townhouses can't be stacked one on top of the other. Instead, they are joined by the side walls of each building. So although you won't have upstairs or downstairs neighbors you can still have someone directly next door.

Like condos, any public spaces are considered common areas. These areas are usually maintained for you by an owner's association that collects maintenance fees from each owner in the complex.


Another big difference between Condos and Townhouses is the financing.  Townhouses because they are fee simple ownership are generally easy to get financing.  Condos are more difficult to finance due to HOA Certification.  FHA requires the entire condo complex to be approved in order to get financing.  In Orange County, <40% of all condo complexes are approved by FHA.  Conventional Loans require Condo Certification which shows the lender owner occupancy %, delinquency % and if there is any current litigation.  Any one of these 3 could deny a loan.  Check with your lender on their specific requirements.


Steve Colvin
Premier Ca Realty


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