Home Buying in Vernon Hills>Question Details

Kumar, Home Buyer in 60089

how to identify a house listed in MLS is a Condo or Townhome?

Asked by Kumar, 60089 Tue Mar 2, 2010

I found a house in Vernon Hills which was listed in MLS as

Ownership : Condo
Model: Townhouse

I am not able to understand what does this exactly mean...? Is this a condo or townhouse???

The reason why i am asking -- Recently I talked to a mortgage broker to know about the loans for which loan I would be eligible. He said I would be eligible only for FHA loan and FHA loan has got lot of restrictions in approving for a Condo...so i started looking more specifically for Town homes in the market. But the only doubt I have is - how to identifying the house...Please help me

Appreciate the responses.


Help the community by answering this question:


Kumar - let's keep this simple:

To recap...............

A condo, short for condominium is a FORM of OWNERSHIP - it has absolutely nothing to do with the style of the unit - the townhouse you are looking at IS a condo

A townhome describes a STYLE....a building - usually with multiple floors

A condo can be an apartment style, 1 floor unit in a highrise.... OR a multi-level townhome - attached or detached

If you are buying a condo, regardless of the style - townhome or apartment style - it must be on an approved list if you are going with an FHA loan
The mortgage rep can let you know if the townhome you are interested in is approved
for those who seem confused by this.............fee simple usually descirbes the form of ownership for a single family home where on eis deeded the home and land, and they are not bound by any association bylaws...............with a condo you are given a deed and own the interior , or sometimes several feet around the foundation, but share in the common elements, and their maitenance...........another form of ownership - is cooperative (coop) ownership - you own a share or percentage of the entire building or complex - you do not receive a deed to the property.. Any sale needs the approval of the coop board.

In regard to the comment: "All multi-story buildings with 'stacked' units are condo ownership."......Well, for the record - .That is totally incorrect....many apartment style buildings (highrises) are COOPS (cooperative ownership) which I described above. Probably 75%, if not more, of the highrises in Manhattan are coops, not condos.

To further confuse some here.......there are townhomes and converted garden apartments near me that have coop form of ownership, not condo.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
I believe your lender was talking about the type of ownership that lenders look at. It has nothing to do with the style of the building, it has to do with whether you own the land and get a survey or whether the condo association owns the land and you own "air space". All multi-story buildings with 'stacked' units are condo ownership. Some complexes that look like townhomes are actually 'condo' in terms of ownership. Many Realtors and Sellers don't know the difference and it isn't searchable in the MLS. The legal description will tell you which form of ownership it is. Ask you attorney or lender for guidance on this.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
...and to tag on to what others have said, you can also tell if there is the word "unit" in the legal description because that will designated "condo." Additionally with a townhouse, you will have a plat of survey as well meaning that you own the footprint around your home. You will not with a condo.

While I respect your mortgage brokers opinion re: condos, there are other financing options now available when it comes to buying condos...not just FHA. I have a mortgage broker that I work with who has a 1% down/Not on the FHA Approved List program. Here are some highlights of the program.
 1% minimum down-payment and No PMI!
 No Condo Questionnaire needed. Complex must be 50% owner-occupied.
 Buyers cannot currently own any other properties.
 Minimum credit score of only 625 (average of all three).
 All collections on credit report must be paid prior to or at closing.
 Loan amount cannot exceed $200,000.
 Don’t need FHA approval, but does require home inspection & survey.

This is HUGE!!!!!!!!!!! No PMI alone is amazing and saves 000's of $$$$.

Hope this helps! You can reach me at Kay@KayCanSell.com if you need more info. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 22, 2012

Michael & Debbie have given some good responses.

As they've pointed out - Condo is the ownership type.

In our local market we consider a property to be a 'Townhouse' if it is an attached home with a private entrance, but the ownership type itself will vary.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 3, 2010
Debbie Rose is correct. Co-op is another form of ownership. It is common in her market place. You will not find co-ops in Vernon Hills. You asked about condos vs. townhomes, commonly found in our area, so I didn't want to complicate the answer by bringing in co-ops unless you're looking downtown.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
You've asked a trick question without knowing it. Only one of these words describes a building or architectural type. The word condo is short for "condominium", which in itself is a way to legally describe the entire property, being fee simple title, air space living units, parking spaces, etc with undivided interest between all homeowners of the project... A Townhome is really a sales tool, but is two stories or more in an existing condominium project. In other words, you will probably never see "townhome" in described property with a single family home on a fee simple lot, but you will in the undivided interest condo project....TMI ???
Web Reference: http://www.SoPacTitle.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
Hi Kumar-

Your mortgage broker meant that some condos (no matter the style, be it townhouse, ranch, side-by-side, etc.) are on an approved list as FHA financeable. You can search the list at:


If a condominium that you are interested in is not on the list, then it has to get approved by FHA. There is a process to it that your mortgage broker can help you through. If he can't, go to a different lender who can.

Good luck with your search. Have fun!
Kari Roehl
The Right Address
Wisconsin, USA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
Condo ownership is just that--it doesn't mean that the property is like an apartment, but it means that the land is owned by the condo association. Townhomes can be condos also, and it some instances, so can detached homes. Because the condo fees will maintain the outside of the buildings as well as the grounds, the fees for a townhome in condo ownership will be more expensive than a townhome with fee simple ownership--the kind of ownership where you will own the land as well as the home.

Pat Orend, Realtor
Long & Foster, Realtors
Reston, VA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
The home and development you are questioning about look like townhomes. I have seen these on the MLS and know the exact one you were looking at.
If you r not working with anyone give me a call.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
The price/ size/ location. If it seems too good to be true, it is!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
Hi Kathy,

Here is the more information:

Bedrooms : 3
Baths : 2.1
Subdivision : West Pointe
PriceRange : $290,000 - $300,000

Please check for me..and let me know if you need any other information.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010

The use of the term Condo to mean apartment is a common mistake. A Condo is a form of ownership and although it is often an apartment or flat it doesn’t have to be. It can also be a Townhome, a Twin, a detached or semi detached property.
More accuratley a CONDO is a type of ownership in real property where all of the owners own an undivided interest in the common areas and buildings together, with the exception of the interior of the unit to which they have title.

Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox Roach
1010 Stony Hill Road
215-321-3307 DIRECT
Web Reference: http://www.franandmark.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
Hi Kumar,

I would be happy to send you fha approved condos and townhomes what is your price range and how many bedrooms/baths/garages?

Kathy Diegel
Coldwell Banker
Buffalo Grove
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
HI Kumar,
Great question! A condo is one level and can have neighbors above or below you and on either side. A townhouse is typically 2 levels and you only have neighbors next door. Does that help? It is considered more of a house because you don't have anyone above you.
Have your Realtor check into complexes that are FHA approved.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
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