Patrice, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

What is the difference between a town house and a condo?

Asked by Patrice, Brooklyn, NY Thu Jun 21, 2012

A townhome in a very small complex vs a condominium

Help the community by answering this question:


A townhouse is a 'style' of home. Examples of different styles are ranch/garden, split, etc.

A condo (or condominium association) is a form of ownership. This is where a group of property owners come together to maintain common elements of the property. This usually happens when walls are adjoining, although standalone single family homes may also form an association.

Therefore, a townhouse is usually part of a condo association, and a condo may or may not be a townhouse

Hope this helps, feel free to contact me anytime

Nick Gandhi
Equity Capital Real Estate
(203) 280 3838
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 21, 2012
Thumbs up for E Patrice as she is the only agent here who seems to know the difference between a townhome and a condominium!

Townhome is a STYLE

Condominium is a FORM of OWNERSHIP

townhomes can be condominiums....they can also be co-operative forms of ownership.......or fee simple

apartment style units, for example in highrises, can be condos or , as many are in NYC, co-ops.........these are forms of ownership!!!!

I live in a townhome that is a condominium, and no, I don't own the dirt! I pay a mainteance fee that takes care of the common areas and some of the exterior parts of my home.

Patrice - make sure you ask to see a copy of the bylaws (rules and regulations) if you are considering a condo purchase so you'll know what to expect and what is covered by your monthly fee.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 21, 2012
Yes Patrice, Debbie is right you MUST look at the bylaws (sometimes called covenants in different areas). This will tell you exactly what you own, what you are responsible for, if you can rent your property, what changes you can make to the property, etc. and many buyers that don't review them learn the hard way because they are not accurately informed. We don't want that to be you! I hope you got the answer you were looking for, if not we'd be happy to clarify anything.

Thanks Debbie! I've been licensed since 2003 and prior to that I was a residential designer for architecture firms and homebuilders. I have a degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute so if I didn't know what the difference is it would be absolutely shameful! I'm going to keep your info for referrals as I love doing business with agents who are knowledgeable in the industry!

E Patrice Hayes, Associate Broker in NY, CT and GA
Keller Williams Realty
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 22, 2012
Hi Patrice! (great name by the way)
Condo refers to the type of ownership of a property (usually just the interior of a unit with common area interest ownership). Townhome refers to the architectural style of a property. You can have a single family townhome style property (where you own all of it and are responsible for all maintenance) or you can have a condo townhome style property (where you own just the interior but an HOA handles the exterior maintenance. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me directly.

E Patrice Hayes, Associate Broker in NY, CT and GA
Keller Williams Realty
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 21, 2012
A condominium is a form of common ownership, with the interior of the units individually owned and the exterior owned in common. It is a financial term, not an architectural term. Many styles of properties can be structed as condominium ownership...apartment buildings, free-standing homes with land owned in common, with units varying in size from 2 to hundreds, etc. Architecturally, a town home is (usually) attached to other similar homes, but has its own front entrance (not off a common hallway).
For more information, please call Joelle Bentley at William Pitt Sotheby's: 203.253-4730.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 22, 2012
They can both be condos, or the town house could be fee simple title. The distinction is the form of ownership, not the jargon.

Jim Simms
NMLS # 6395
Financing Kentucky One Home at a Time
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 22, 2012
Hi Patrice,

Wow, you had some great answers, especially the very clear definitions of E. Patrice and Debbie. I must say that many people use the term condo and townhome interchangeability which of course they are not.

As to your question of small versus large, I think the real key is the finances of the complex. What are the monthly carrying costs, how large is the reserve fund, what expenses are covered in the monthly maintenance, what costs are left to the owner? How old is the complex? What is its real physical condition? Is there a special assessment for repair projects? It there is, who will be eating that cost - the seller or the buyer? Look at the five year capital expense budget, what does the board or management company foresee? Are any of the units in foreclosure or subject to a short sale? This is will affect your resale value.

Both the condo or co-op form of township are great, just may sure that you, your broker, lawyer or accountant do the proper due diligence. This is a case where no want NO surprises.
Best, Jay Cooke
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 22, 2012
If you are looking in the Stamford, Ct area, a townhouse is a description of the unit, meaning it has multiple floors. Both would be considered condos and would have by laws for the complex. A co-op is different because you actually own shares in the complex, and in Ct. it is very difficult to get financing for them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 22, 2012
In a townhome, the dirt is yours! A condo collectively shares the property with all the other owners. Typically town homes are not as restrictive (depending upon location) and may not even have a home owner's association. Condos are very restrictive, but all your exterior general maintenance is collectively paid for and maintained so less worries. My town home is separated from the other town homes by a 4 hour fire wall.......... so I hear nothing from my neighbors :)
Town homes are also a less expensive way to obtain your own plot of land and privacy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 21, 2012
Hi Patrice,
Townhouse is a style of condominium which typically has a living room and kitchen on the first floor and bedrooms on second floor. Sometimes there is a garage and maybe a den on a lowest level. Usually there is no one above or below you but this is not always the case. Townhomes are attached to other townhomes and are all in a row and so are also referred to as rowhomes since they are all in a row. A single level unit (in which everything in your home is contained on one level) may be in a garden apartment building or in a high rise but it is also a condominium form of ownership just like townhomes. We call these single level units "ranch" style condos. There are some exceptions like cooperatives. Thus townhomes and ranch style are all condominiums.
Keep smiling! Mark
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 21, 2012
Hi Patrice

The simple answer is: typically a townhouse owns the land (the small tract) it sits on, while condo shares the the land with other units. Therefore you may have condos on first floor, second floor, third floor...and so on.

Daniel Shi
1.888.785.8818 ext.100
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 21, 2012
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