Home Buying in Richmond>Question Details

Aaa, Home Buyer in Glen Allen, VA

First time home buyer, single family or townhome?

Asked by Aaa, Glen Allen, VA Mon Jan 31, 2011

We are firsttime home buyers. I am not sure if we should buy a townhome or a single family. we are looking for good schools and good location.

Help the community by answering this question:


It's a great day to buy a home! Before you start looking it is best to sit down with a REALTOR and go over the process of Buying a home. You need to know what you are getting into and what is expected of you. This will help the process ......
Web Reference: http://www.LisaAtkinson.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 22, 2011
This is a preference, like "What is my favorite color". Do you know the difference between the two? Have you been looking? I strongly urge you to find a local agent who can show you some of both to help you decide. There is more to the question though, as depending on your loan getting a townhouse can be more difficult. As a general rule, and this is not an absolute, but a SFR (Single Family Residence) on average, tends to be the better investment for resale value, if that helps.

Talk with a local agent or Realtor to help, most of the time as the buyer it will not cost you anything to use one. Looks like there are several agents that took the time to answer your question right here on Trulia.com, pick a couple, get in contact and get started. Best of luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
My counsel to you is to "know what you want" before you spend a lot time and energy viewing and comparing available properties. One guide to help you sort through the universe of options can be found on my website. From "my pages", a short guide is provided titled "Home Buyers Save Thousands". Best wishes in your effort to zero in on just the "right decision".
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Hi, If the townhome is a condo then I recommend that first. This is a great way to ease into homeownership. Typically you are responsibl;e for the interior only in a condo. Buying a house right away may lead to alot more expenses and maintenance.

Christopher Pagli
Licensed Associate Broker
Accredited Buyer Representative
GREEN Designated Agent
William Raveis Legends Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 18, 2011
If you have made a decision about where in the Richmond area you want to live, you can view available homes as well as housing market trends for that community from my website. From "my external links", click on homes and trends link; enter search criteria (i.e. zip code, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, price range, etc.); view the search results; then click on the Stats & Trends tab to gain insight to the market pricing trends for the area of interest. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance to you in your search for "just the right home" for your family.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 18, 2011
Hello Aaa,
Buying your first home is exciting. If you are looking for good schools, you can research the test scores (SOL's & PSAT's) that are given to all school children of the same age. The scores will show you how well students are doing in a specific school within the county. You live in Henrico county so I will share the website that you can look up the information that you are looking for. You also might visit the schools personally to tour the facility as well as find out where their strengths are academically. As far as a townhome or single family, keep in mind that when you purchase a townhome or a condo, the monthly maintenance fees are also added to you debt ratio.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 3, 2011
There are many factors to be considered. Sometimes a townhome is a good way to get into a more expensive neighborhood. The homes that are attached at the garage would be the most private.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
Each has their own pros and cons. Some people opt for a townhome because of the maintenance it provides you. Some people can't stand that neighbors are just on the other side of the wall. I would first look at your schools and location and then go from there.

For more buying and selling tips, please visit http://www.RochesterHomeLocator.com

Salafia Sold Team
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
It depends on the size of your family and your lifestyle. First pick out the school where you want to live, then you can see what's available. Good Luck!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
Good schools and good location should always be your first priority anyway (even if you do not have kids...always think resale value). Buying a townhome or single family really comes down to personal preference...1. how close do you want your neighbors 2. how much land do you want 3. what are the association fees for townhomes and do you want to pay them? 4. do you want to mow your lawn or have someone take care of it for you...these are all townhome vs. single family home questions. You will have more freedom to make it your own in a single family home (that is if you don't buy in a development that has a homeowner's association) BUT you will also have more responsibility as far as lawn mowing and exterior maintenance goes. A lot of people like the ease and convenience of a townhome and do not mind the closeness or the fees, others feel trapped and binded by the lack of space and extra fees they pay each month. Make a pros and cons list on a spreadsheet and see which choice comes out on top! Good luck you are buying at a great time!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
All things being equal (which, of course, they never are), it depends on your lifestyle and personal preferences.

On the one hand, a single family home probably will appreciate more than a townhome. That's a very broad statement, and there are plenty of exceptions to it. Still, overall, it applies.

A single family home will likely (depending on lot size, of course) give you and your kids more room to play, relax, etc., outside.

In many areas, there are more rentals in townhome complexes than in single family home communities.

On the other hand, the exterior upkeep is usually much simpler in a townhome than in a single family home. And if you buy in a community with an HOA, much of that (lawn mowing, leaf removal, snow removal, etc.) may be taken care of for you.

So there's no "right" answer.

Look for good location first. Overall good community, convenient to transportation, shopping, etc. Once you've identified some good locations, then look at the statistics: schools, crime, etc. Then look at prices for townhomes and single family homes in those areas. Ideally, you'd be able to afford either. Perhaps, though, you could only afford a townhome. Then take a look at the actual properties in those areas.

If the actual properties don't measure up, then either you may have to raise your budget or expand your search to other communities. Frankly, that's often the case--balancing the home you like versus the community. But start with the community search first. You're going to be living there, so you want a place you and your family feel comfortable with.

If you do have to make a tradeoff between community and a specific property, choose the community.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
Glen, Congratulations on looking for your first home! To help make this experience easier and go more smoothly, let me suggest you find a real estate agent to work with in your area. If you do not have someone in mind, check with your co-workers, friends, and family members for suggestions for someone they were happy with. Some agents specialize in working with first time homebuyers and work closely with lenders and hence, may know of programs in your area that may assist you that you may not know about. A realtor can supply you with names of lenders who may best be able to assist your needs. First and most important is to know how much you can afford on paper. A lender will help educate you without an obligation to go with that lender. Once you have those numbers, be realistic about what you feel you and your family can actually afford, keeping in mind that even with a fixed rate mortgage, there are costs involved in ownership that are not so fixed, like taxes and insurance, that will cause your mortgage payments to fluctuate some. Keep in mind that there are costs in maintenance, so consideration of the age and condition of a home are also considerations. A realtor can help you sort out the information. Next, make a list of of your NEEDS, and your WANTS, and provide these to your realtor along with your affordability numbers, and let them help you through the process of of knowing what is in the area and what is available within your goals. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
good school call board education depend where you want to buy,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 2, 2011
As mentioned, it just depends on your needs and wants. A single family usually brings with it more in terms of maintenance...such as lawn care, landscaping, etc. It also brings along some freedom in terms of putting in a swing set, shed, etc. (of course, depends ont he HOA) And there are no shared walls so the noise level may be less.
A townhome on the other hand offers less in maintenance. And the cost tends to be cheaper, depending on the area and size you select.
I suggest you take a look at both and get a good feel of what you like. Many people think they want a single family and then realize it is too much for them. On the flip side, some people think they want a townhome only to find a perfect single.
No matter what, enjoy your search. It is a big purchase and the process can be fun! Let me know if you need some help!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 1, 2011
I think the deciding factors in this situation are mostly personal preferences. Both have positives and drawbacks from many perspectives. While a townhome may have less up-keep and maintenance, you are more likely to deal with common area maintenance expenses, homeowner's association regulations and fees, and privacy issues. With a single family home, you will have more maintenance responsibilities, extra utility expenses, and other factors that may make home ownership more costly. It really comes down to your family budget, and personal preferences.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011

First of all stand back take a deep breath and put a smile on your face! This is going to be a great learning experience! As far as townhome or house. I would pick location and maintainence as 2 of my deciding factors the other would be how long am I going to stay in this place and what will my needs be 5 years from now. I say buy the best house you can afford in best area especially for resale value.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
I am a fan of Budgeting, since the median income in Glen Allan is $64,099 in 2009 according to City-Data, and and according to a Standard Percentage Guide in your income bracket you should be spending 30% of your Net Income, The Net Income(take home after taxes) for $64,099 is around $4500/ mth, you should try to keep your Housing Expense under $1350. For a complete analysis please read:

Best of luck in your search of home ownership.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Single family home resale value has typically been much better than townhomes in the Atlanta area. However, my daughter chose a townhome because she liked the location and it suited her needs much better.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi There A,

I'd suggest getting the best home your budget will afford in the area where you really want to be. Location, location, location is what it's all about. If your budget will get you both the neighborhood you want and a single family home, then I'd opt for the single family home as they tend to sell and retain value better than townhomes. Welcome to home ownership!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi Asa - from an investment standpoint, ask a local agent to run some comps for you, so you can see which option has retained more value during the market downturn, as that would be the better investment moving forward.

From an emotional standpoint, decide if having your own backyard is important for you.........decide if .being able to be in control of your own home (what color to paint the exterior, for example), and not being regulated by HOA rules and bylaws is important. to you.

Pick the location you want, first........then see what your price range will offer...........if you have a growing faily, a single family home will give you future expansion options that a townhome won't.

Best wishes..........
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi A,

That question is usually answered by your home budget. If you can get a good deal on a single family home they generally sell and re-sell better than townhomes. However, your lifestyl will be a factor too. Do you hate yard maintenance? Is the townhome you can afford in a better area than the single family? Townhomes certainly sell as well so get the best house you can within your budget and best of luck.

Jessica Ballas, Realtor
Keller Williams Flagship of MD
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Remember--if you are paying $100/month in HOA fees, you could have purchased a house that was about $20,000 higher in price as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Do you the idea of taking care of the landscaping and other factors involved in owning a single family home? If not a townhome might be your answer. Just check to see what the H.O.A. Fee is per month.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Your personal preference for lifestyle should help you make the decision. Financial considerations will also count heavily if you have a particular neighborhood in mind. Also, keep in mind distance to work, shopping, restaurants etc. If your excitement comes from having a lawn to mow, place for childs swing set, large deck for burgers etc. Will the townhome just feel like a glorified apartment? Many factors will guide you along the way. Think these things through, use every opportunity to visit as many townhomes and single family dwellings as you can in this initial stage. Then find a great realtor to help you. I am only sorry that I don't live in Richmond. Good luck! Make this fun. You are only a first time home buyer once.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Good location is always key! If you could find a single family home in good condition/good location and at the price that falls into your comfort zone, then I would recommend the single family-yhey seem to appreciate in value more than the townhome and or condo.

Good luck,
Jimmy O'Burns
Long & Foster, Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
There are a number of factors that will determine the answer to your question. What is your current household like? Do you want to be in the city or suburbs? What is most important to you in choosing your new home? How much can you afford? Have you spoken with a mortgage professional yet? Does your mortgage professional know you may be looking at townhomes (HOA fees not calculated into the initial approval amount will lower the amount)?

The best person to answer your question is yourself. Start by considering your current household, and the needs of each person in it. A family with three children may not be comfortable in a two bedroom townhome, but if both parents work a lot of hours, who will be able to take care of the yard at a single family residence? Is privacy more imprtant to the family, or are you more social?

My recommendation to you is to sit down with a pad of paper and determine your wants and needs first, allowing input from each member of the household. Then prioritize the list. Bring your list with you when you speak with an agent, he or she may have additional questions you have not considered. Your list may answer the question for you.

Best of luck in your home search.
Don "Buddy" LaRue, Realtor
You've got a Buddy in the real estate business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Congratulations on being able to purchase your first home. I have had many clients who have struggled with this question as well as where to live. Start with where you live now and decide if that's where you want to stay (in terms of location). Then what is your lifestyle like? Do you like to do things around the house like garden etc or do you just want to come and go. Is your lifestyle going to change in the next few years? Once you have outlined your wants and needs then get with a good Realtor and go visit some houses and townhouses and see how you feel. It will all come together in the end.
Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
I would recommend to go with a single family home. With condos and townhouses you place a tremendous amount of faith in the Home Owners Association. I have seen several instances where the HOA either misappropriated funds by someone embezzling or just make poor decisions in spending for the neighborhood which has dire consequences for the property owners by way of decreased property values and increased dues and special assessments. In a subdivision these risks are greatly mitigated by the smaller size of the budget and power over the individual homeowners property. If you are not wanting the maintenance of a single family home you can always hire someone to take care of the lawn and maintenance of the home and will end up saving in the long run over paying the HOA fees.

Feel free to call of email me should you have any further questions.

Ryan C. Sanford
Associate Broker
RE/MAX Commonwealth
9401 Courthouse Road, Suite 200
Chesterfield, VA. 23832
804-218-3409 mobile
804-423-2392 e fax
804-777-9001 office
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
I would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each type of housing. As a few others have mentioned, you need to know how much you can buy so the appointment with a loan officer is important. Once you have a good picture of what you can spend, we can establish your particular criteria including size, location, price, etc. I work with first time buyers and know the Glen Allen area well. We also have a mortgage company in house at our office. Please call if you would like more help with your home search.

Tim Dunkum, REALTOR
The Tuckahoe Office
Long and Foster, Inc
8804 Patterson Avenue
Richmond, VA 23229
804 740 3000 Office
804 754 4659 VM
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Good afternoon Aaa,

I would like to talk with you in detail about your search. Please give me your phone number and I will be happy to call you. Or, please log onto my website http://www.LydiaCall.com and sign up as a VIP member. You will then have access to the MLS system in Richmond.

Thank you
Lydia A. Call
RE/MAX Commonwealth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Yes, I agree you should first find a good loan officer to find out what you can afford. Also, if you decide to go with a Condo/Townhouse, you must factor in the Home Owner Association fees.

Please feel free to give me a call, I would be more than happy to help you with the loan process and discussing the details!

**Top Producer & Quality Award Winner**

Chris Alexandropoulos
Century 21 All American
804-747-6950 (direct)
804-301-5295 (cell)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi Aaa, The answer would depend on how you feel about each type of home and what you qualify for.
Single family homes are great for indpendant living away from the rules and regulations of a townhouse association. Townhomes can offer things that would free your time such as the maintence of the grounds,a poool or tennis in the devolpment and more.
The decision is yours. Most of our buyers prefer single family homes, however we do get those who want townhomes just not nearly as much as the single family.

All the Best
Dave & Lisa
Web Reference: http://www.urhomerealty.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Recommend for you tour both types of properties determine what works best for your entire family.

Typical families with small children prefer larger yards where they can play have swing set and etc.

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
I agree that the first thing you should look for is a good loan officer to get a good idea of what you can afford. Also when you are looking do forget to factor in any Home Owner Association fees. You can find townhomes and single family homes both with and without HOA's. I have found in some areas after factoring these in a Single family home without HOA is a better value than a townhome with HOA.
Find a good agent to help you through it all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
Ask yourself where YOU want to live.

You'll be the one waking up every morning and coming home every night.

Do you want to cut the grass? Do you want to be responsible for exterior maintenance? Etc, etc.

Your lifestyle will dictate.

So, make those decisions, get pre approved for a mortgage and find a great buyer broker agent!

Good luck!

Fred Glick
NMLS #133975
Licensed Mortgage Originator in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Web Reference: http://usloans.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
From a resale amd appreciation standpoint, you will almost always be better off buying a single family home. If you can afford a single family home in an area that meets your other criteria - good schools, good location - that would be my recommendation, even if you are buying something that is a little more dated than brand new construction.

I agree with Sandy, your first step is always to talk to a qualified loan officer to figure out what you can afford. Then, find a well-regarded realtor that works in the areas you have targeted. Good luck and happy house hunting!

Melissa Loughridge Savenko
RE/MAX Commonwealth
509-511 N. Meadow Street
Richmond, Virginia 23220
C: 804-986-3993
E-mail: melissasavenko@gmail.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
That really depends on your budget and how much money you have available for a down payment, In thie Richmond area, there are a lot of housing options from smaller detached homes to some great townhomes all in the same price range. I feel that it is a personal decision and again based on how much you can afford.

Give me a call and I would be more than happy to help you by discussing this with you in more detail! It is certainly a buyer's market, so whatever type of home that you buy, you can get a great deal now.

Tina Beasley
Associate Broker
Envision Real Estate, LC
804-972-9927 Cell Direct
804-262-0001 Broker Office
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
In todays market as a buyer you have a lot of purchasing power. Find out from a qualified loan officer what you can be approved for price-wise, then look for a SF home that meets your requirements. In the long run you will find that a SF home will be a place that you can grow into and stay longer and won't have to move a few years down the road because you've out grown it.

Good luck in your pursuits!

Sandy Farmer
Realtor, GRI, CSSN
John Hall & Associates
Web Reference: http://homesales411.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 31, 2011
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