Home Buying in Atlanta>Question Details

Curtis Tenti…, Home Buyer in 30312

Should I go condo or townhouse?

Asked by Curtis Tention, 30312 Wed Jul 17, 2013

I did the single family starter home 3 bdrms 2/12 baths yard etc. Not interested in the maintenance of a single family home. I hear condo fees can skyrocket if other tenants fail to pay their share. Not looking to take on other peoples responsibility.

Help the community by answering this question:


Do you like stairs to every level of your home? Want a garage and no one above or below you? A nice deck and maybe even a little patio/yard? Go townhome.
Or do you like amenities like a 7/24 concierge, pool, workout room, and more of a social scene? Go condo (i'm giving an example of a typical highrise condo--of course there are mid-rises and vintage condos with no amenties....) Now that the housing market has stabilized you'll find less nightmare stories with condos if you choose buildings carefully. Of course, there's always the risk that someone from crazy town will get on the Homeowner's association board....which will affect you more in a condo that a townhome.
Townhomes are typically a better investment, but if you and your agent do some research, condos can be a good investment as well. Be aware that many townhomes are "fee simple" and may not take care of exterior and roof repair like a condo. I personally tire of all the different levels of townhomes--my next home will be a condo!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 17, 2013
Thanks Kristen. Your response bought me back to point zero. I like simplicity. I have no need for all the high-rise amenities.
Flag Thu Jul 18, 2013
Hello, I am a condominium / town home specialist. My company is BRIGHTSTAR and we close about 40-50 multi-family homes every month. We represent resales and new developments. Here are my thoughts.

Unless the price of a town home or condominium is irresistible to you you will want to know that town homes often have much lower HOA fees that do condominiums. You can find townhomes with fees of @ $200+_ a month. A two bedroom condominium will usually be more expensive and have fees in the neighborhood of $450+-. A huge difference when considering your carrying costs.

Then coms the question Hi-rise condominium or mid-rise with 5 floors or less.

That being said, hi-rise condominiums are rare compared to town homes and mid-rise homes. This translates to a higher demand and higher purchase price for hi-rise homes.

Consider whether or not you want the stairs. Retirees typically avoid stairs when they are purchasing which limits your opportunity for buyers when you go to sell. Most town home owners use their downstairs and only go upstairs to sleep.

My first question to you would be "where do you want to live and play and you will probably want to land in a vicinity within a comfortable commuting distance to your office.

Then, check with your agent to determine availability and pricing in that area. That in itself may be a determine factor on what you eventually purchase.

I have a lender whose closing fees are only $751, far under the closing costs of other lenders.

I hope that this helps somewhat. Untimately, the answer is "it depends",

Patricia Queen
BRIGHTSTAR at Keller Williams Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 21, 2013
Thanks Patricia for your comments. More food for thought.
Flag Sun Jul 21, 2013
For the HOA fees you pay for a condo and a townhome you can pay someone to cut your grass in a single family home.

You have more privacy in a single family home ,no common walls. Typically you get more appreciation with a single family home.

You are correct about skyrocketing fees and don't forget plummeting values if there is not enough money to take care of common areas. Why depend on strangers for your financial well being?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 18, 2013
Thanks Richard I appreciate your feedback.
Flag Thu Jul 18, 2013
Hi Curtis

It is a lifestyle and personal preference issue.

Yes HOA and Dues can sky rocket with or without other members
Going into default, should Cost of services and Inflation soars.

Also, may want to consider long term ROI.

Good luck.

Web Reference: http://www.ruthandperry.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 21, 2013
Lee is right, you should narrow down the area first and figure out what your buying power is. Just remember, in a falling market attached properties take a bigger hit than single family detached houses and take longer to recover the value.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013

Your concerns about skyrocketing fees are valid and can occur in either type of property.

To sum up, the key differences are life style and form of ownership. The condo lifestyle can offer a higher level of amenities, particularly in high-rise buildings, one-level living, and no maintenance responsibilities. However, you have less control over renting your unit and little control over when or how maintenance is performed.

Townhomes offer multi-level living, more responsibility for maintenance and as a result, lower HOA fees - usually.

You might consider cluster homes too, they offer the advantages of townhomes in the form of a single-family home.

Which ever way you go, do your research. Your Realtor can help you determine the sales trends, financial health of the HOA and details of your rights and responsibilities as an owner. The results of your research will help determine whether a particular condo or townhome is a good investment.


Dave Herren
Best Atlanta Properties
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
Thanks Darren...I feel like I'm in grad school again with all this research. However, I know my research on my next purchase is more important than getting A. With that said I will be posting some more questions.
Flag Fri Jul 19, 2013

I would be glad to put you in touch with some top notch agents around Atlanta, who can assist you for no cost to you!

Also, i would be more than happy to assist you with the financing for your purchase.

Feel free to give me a call any time.


George Cohen
Mortgage Banker
678.442.3401 Office
678.985.5923 Fax
apply online: gcohen.brandmortgage.com

NMLS# 75615 | 1078450
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
It depends on how much maintenance you want to do on the property and how much you are looking to spend for HOA fees. A fee simple townhouse won't have the fees and restrictions a condo can however you are going to be responsible for everything like roof etc. If you aren't interested in that then maybe a condo community that will be responsible for those types of maintenance would be better. The idea is the HOA fees are supposed to cover things you would be spending money on anyways. However some communities do have very high HOA fees.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
Thanks Megan I appreciate your feedback. Looking at the big picture a condo fits my lifestyle.
Flag Fri Jul 19, 2013
You Californians! What kind of name is 'Advance Windows' for a Real Estate Company? I once had a client who almost walked on "a deal of a lifetime" because her husband's brother was a Texas real estate agent who advised her not to buy my listing. She ignored his advice, and went ahead and bought the Buckhead apartment house from me (16 units) for $700k and sold it the next year for almost double that. Never take advice from an agent sells exclusively in another state. Atlanta's market is so complicated, and Trullia is a great place to get multiple opinions from Real Estate Professionals.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 18, 2013
Good points below - while you will be tied to others with either a TH or condo, there are differences in designs, amenities and "life style". The fundamental difference is ownership, your agent should be able to explain that.

As Lee said, if you buy smart and do the proper amount of research, you can limit the opportunity for HOA disaster. Buy into a stable community/complex and check the financials. It goes without saying that a ridiculously thorough data scrub is also required - investors have and are completely skewing the data and many of these units are selling well above where they should.
Web Reference: http://www.hmtatlanta.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 18, 2013
Thanks for the response. I will keep your replies in mind.
Flag Thu Jul 18, 2013
I think, If you’re a first time home buyer, you may want to consider a couple alternatives to the traditional, single-family home that is surrounded on all sides by its own expensive lawn or driveway. Now a day’s many families are turning to these shared-wall options to condos or town homes. The biggest advantage of both condos and townhouses is price. Sure, there are plenty of luxury high-rises and high end townhomes. But you can save a lot of money by not buying a big yard.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 18, 2013
I did the yard thing already. Thanks for your reply.
Flag Thu Jul 18, 2013
What's your price range and where exactly are you seeking to live? These factors matter a whole lot, so I can not answer your question directly without knowing these things.

A fee simple townhouse can be one of the best undermarket buys in any submarket. Why? Because the average sales price in a quality area is usually less for a townhouse than it is for a single family house nearby. And, fee simple ownership is more flexible than ownership with condo association governance.

Even a condo or a townhouse that is part of a condo association can be a terrific undermarket buy, delivering great value at a lower than average price for the submarket.

Fees can get you, so what do you need from a community? Kirsten's points are very valid.

Read my article that I wrote yesterday about townhouse values in my city, Decatur.

Finally, depending on your fear of doom and gloom, stop worrrying about how someone else in a condo association might let you down. Buy into a quality community with excellent fundamentals and you will not have any worries...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 18, 2013
Thanks Lee!
Flag Thu Jul 18, 2013
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