Townhome vs SFH for a single female in Houston?

Asked by Buyer, Houston, TX Mon Jan 31, 2011

I am interested in buying a property (primary residence), I thought townhome would be the best choice for a single female when it comes to security, but the maintenance fee on the one I liked is up to $500 a month, which I can add to the mortgage payment and get a SFH instead. My question is, is it worth paying the maintenance fee for peace of mind? On the other hand, for 500 a month I can hire people to do a repair anytime it's needed and it may not be as much. Do I need to hire a lawyer before I sign the contract or a broker is supposed to look out for my benefits. I'm a first time buyer and the process is nerve rocking. Please help! Thank you.

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Cherin Cox, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Feb 28, 2011
Good Morning! I haven't read the other responses and at this point you may have already made a decision. It is extremely nerve racking to purchase a home - every time you will do it! The worst is not knowing if the team you've selected to work on your behalf is trustworthy.

I have many first time buyer clients who'd love to talk to you if you'd like and let you know what to expect. Without any obligation. Generate a team that does business the way you would do business.... Realtor, Lender, Title - make sure they have great references, experience, work full time in the profession and CALL YOU BACK or text you back or email you back...Keep you updated and posted.

As for maintenance fee in a condo vs single family home. Its all about your lifestyle and desire to live more maintenance free or manage the maintenance required in home ownership. If you don't want to be bothered with landscaping tasks, updating the exterior of your home now and again then definitely consider a condo. Keep in mind though that you still have to keep up the interior, most condo policies cover upkeep from the wall studs to the exterior everything else is home owner responsibility. Check the following before buying a condo: Is there a need for deductible insurance, pet restrictions, foundation coverage, condo insurance policy, any special assessments. Condos can be more restrictive but can be great places to live the low maintenance lifestyle.

I have an excel spreadsheet I give to clients considering both condos and single family property. It breaks down the potential costs of doing your own maintenance and having insurance vs the condos maintenance & insurance... It only takes an hour or so to put together. Assuming I have direct access to the condo fee and what it covers.

A lot of the Galleria Condos have VERY high condo fees - drives me crazy sometimes. They all have their reasons and those reason vary - size of community, unique needs - rec facilities, gates, common areas, garages vs carports, insurance policies, age of community, etc.

General rule of thumb...for every $10,000 financed your payment changes about $65-$75 per month. So, if you're looking at a $400 condo payment, thats about $40,000 more towards a house. Loan qualifications are the same - you will have to qualify for the condo maintenance fee just like the extra $40k in a house. If the condo is $170,000 plus $400 a month its like having to qualify for a $200,000 property.

Hope this helps. If I can be of any additional service just shoot me an email... C
1 vote
Alan Harper, Agent, Houston, TX
Sun Apr 21, 2013
Go with the 3/2 because you can easily resell, no condo association fees, maintenance fees, more security, I could go on for days!

Search homes in the Houston area on the MLS or

Alan Harper, REALTOR®
World Wide Realty
2323 South Voss, Houston, Tx,
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0 votes
Clint089111, Home Owner, Houston, TX
Mon Mar 19, 2012
I was really shocked that no one mentioned the fact that you can easily find 1 or 2 bedroom townhouses, where as on a single family home, the least you can find is 3 for the most part. If your single this is becomes an issue, because you end up paying for a ton of square footage you dont need. You need your master, and its nice to have the secon bedroom as a spare or office, but a dining room, and extra bedroom is usually wasted space for a single person. $500 dollars a month is pretty steep for a maintenance fee, but I have seen several townhomes, with 150-200, and considering that includes exterior maintenance, yard work, water, and exterior insurance on most, I dont think it would be a huger difference between paying to maintain a house. Just my 2 cents
0 votes
Jay Abeya, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Houston, TX
Tue Feb 1, 2011
The best advice that I can give you is to contact a realtor that you can talk to that can give you the best options when it comes to townhomes vs single family. As a Mortgage banker I can help assist in helping you with your financing if need be or even help find you a realtor that can help . Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Hope you have a great day!
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Savannah Bow…, Agent, Fort Collins, CO
Tue Feb 1, 2011
Hi, there.

How about me asking you a question....Why haven't you found a Realtor to work with? You do not pay for their services as a Buyer, because the listing agent splits HIS earnings for finding the buyer...You! There are many ways a seasoned Realtor will help protect you and your investment. We are experienced and educated in the entire real estate process and Realtors are legally bound to hold your interest above all others, including ourselves. How is that for peace of mind? :0)

As far as the decision of which type of home to choose. A townhome will not provide more security. It will provide you will less personal maintenance, but more dues. Where would you be happier? A home with a front and back yard for personal enjoyment and upkeep....or a more intimate setting with closer neighbors , less maintenance and higher fees? It really is about preference. If you are are concerned with safety, my best advise is to really check out the neighborhood and the residents on a weekend or weekday evening. A good sign is well kept properties and an active community. I would love to speak to you more and can be reached directly at 832-409-9436.
All the best to you!
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0 votes
Mark McNitt, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue Feb 1, 2011
Many questions! This is why you need a seasoned Realtor to assist you with the entire process. Visit the buyer page on my web site for a step by step review of the buyer process.

To answer your question on an attorney. You can always have one assist you as we Realtors cannot give legal advise, but the state written contracts are designed to be understood by most consumers. A good agent should be able to explain things clearly to you. Hire an attorney if you feel you need that 2nd layer of advise.

Townhome VS Single Family home? You will pay more for basic things at a town home like exterior and ground upkeep as well as building insurance in those monthly dues. Sometimes these town home communites have other ammenities like gates and pools. They also offer location opportuniites some single family homes do not. Also check ahead and see how many units are rented VS owner occupied.

Single family homes offer a little more privacy and a much wider variety of choices in prices, locations, age of properties, etc. And yes, you can hire contractors to take care of the basics like yard care to more extreme items like roof replacement...over time these bills can be high, but you are typically paying less than the monthly dues added up.

Both offer about the same in "resale" value and some communites are better run than others as it varies depending on the level of homeowner activity. Let me know if I can assist as I sell both town homes and single family homes.

Good Luck!

Mark McNitt
Bernstein Realty
m 832-567-4357
0 votes
Stephen A.…, , Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hello! future Buyer
Yes I've worked with alot of first time home buyers, in the timber grove and no matter whether they looking inside the loop of the 610loops and on the outter rims of 610loops around houston. I've worked in many neighborhoods, communities, towns outside of houston as well along the coastal cities.
(Townhouse or Home) And heres suggestion to my clients.
And as we all know bad things happen no matter where you may live, I say this not to place worry on any of your decisions on what or where to live.
Because with all the wonderful technology from alarm system,infra-red night cameras you can keep yourself safe and where you can see what going on inside/ouside of a home. as well taking advice if speaking with security provider.
Suggestion for clients to think about in this buyers maket.
Ask yourself. and write down on paper
1. How far willing to drive daily to and from work'
2. Tell Me what your needs and wants for and area that you like to live in.
3. How much do you want to investment for future home
4. Do you want New build and what types warranty on new bukd
the new place will only need regular maintance and yard up keep and keeping up with the trends that helps keep the investment value.
5. Do you want Older build
Where the struture and the layout are are good and updating the investment over time could build equity in your investment for better future resell.
3. Townhomes
they've change over years now with requirments they have become stairs to heaven, the ones you have seen all steps in 3 and 4 levels, Thats 365 days in year up/down and what happen. if you can't go upstairs because of accident. or family member who can't climb them. and the bedrooms upstairs.
4. SFHomes-1 story or 2 story
Yes 2 story have stairs but not like 3 and 4 level step to climb: but if your are family member can handle them way better than the majors stairs in mulitple levels of other places Right.
5. The next thing is the taxes becuase depending on area how hi they can be, because just becuse of area they taxes hi and down the road they are less.

Things to think about on buying Townhomes
I ask clients with the amount of tr-level townhowns out there and in the future that are being built, if you own townhome. how you going to or make it stand out among all those that are around you as well in the area that make yours the best buy. are you going to put lower sell price, because young professional and those who are in tri-level townhomes. And those I've met who are 50plus can't handle all the stairs of tri-levels anymore and have sold there 3 or 4 tri-level townhomes and took long time to find that right buyer. who were So this means there only certain box of people who will want unless yours has elevator in it then you open to many different possible buyers because older folks can't do stairs but they love to ride. but there alway buyer for any property but it's just waiting for the right one..

And the Homes
Homes whether 1 story or 2 story these are what young professional, those starting a familys and future place for there children to play, have a yard to have family,friends or to have gatherings. with SFH the pool of buyers is bigger and that just my opinion of my knowledge from my past buyers. and those i know who who moved from no yard2 to yard for them there dogs and now the children they are raising, and those professional who loves gathering at there home or just for them and the ability to make changes to there homes with out having to get premission from and assocation. and this depend with a home if there are deed restriction type neighborhood. and this has bigger buyer in the market SFHomes
The lawyer you won't need unless thats what you want, but if you have realtor helping you then he/she should be asking you the things above and give you all the really inportant thing to think about.

All the things are my opions being Realtor in houston,tx for the past two-one half yrs, from helping firsttime buyers, homebuyers that own homes now investing their funds to own 2nd home for rental income, or sellers. and Investors
And from my knowledge of remodeling and construction and home improvements for the pass 20yrs.
Good Luck and if need second opion or help just let know how help you.

Stephen A. Steele
832-656-0338 24/7 can txt me too.
RSG-Realty Star Group,LLc
2630 Fountianview Dr. Ste. #435
Houston,Tx 77057
0 votes
Jodi Sherret…, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Jodi Sherretts answered:
My personal opinion is a lot like you. For $500 a month you get repairs/maintenance done. It's also $500 a month you can put towards your mortgage payment. Or $500 a month you can go shopping with :)

Buying your first home is stressful and exciting all at the same time. Find an agent that you are comfortable with, someone you can talk to and trust. Your Realtor should be able to guide you through the process. I have a few short blogs on first time home buying (just click on my profile). If you have other questions, you are welcome to give me a holler.

Happy house hunting!
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Pelin Guzel, Agent, Dallas, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
As a new home buyer hope you are working with a local Realtor who can help you and show you the best way to make a decision.
Unfortunately you are the only one who can decide on this one because of your lifestyle, needs and desire should be the first in addition to financial needs.
Good Luck! Always work with a Realtor buying, leasing or selling!
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Mon Jan 31, 2011
You need to tour both types of properties determine what works best for you.

Keep in mind what the cost is maintain a home, landscaping, lawn, trees, planting,

HOA SHOULD cover some of your insurance

Recommend place all the pro's and con's on excel spreadsheet determine what is best interest

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes
Brenda Jones, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
I am quite familiar with the Clear Lake/ Nassau Bay area and there are a good number of attractive townhomes in the area. However, whether you decide to purchase a SFH or TH should greatly depend on your financial goals as well. How long do you intend to keep the home you purchase? If your ability to re-sell the home and recover your costs OR even make money are important to you, PLEASE consult with an experienced Buyer's agent for advice. It has been my experience that in many areas, SFH are better investments when resale value is important to you.

Before you go any further, please feel free to contact me at no obligation for a good heart-to-heart talk about your goals and how you can best attain them.

As a first time home buyer, you should seek out the best qualified and most attentive licensed buyer's advocate you can find. And that's me!

My webpage below may help in your decision making.

Best of luck to you!
0 votes
Alfred & Dan…, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
You have to rely on yourself with regards to what makes you more comfortable. Do you believe its a convenience to have the amenities that come along with the maintenance fees for a townhome? Remember the
0 votes
Alfred & Dan…, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
You have to rely on yourself with regards to what makes you more comfortable. Do you believe its a convenience to have the amenities that come along with the maintenance fees for a townhome? Remember the
0 votes
Deborah Stru…, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011

I suggest a townhome for single female only because there is less yard maintenance--unless you love to garden and want a yard to maintain.

Whichever you decide on, you will
need to be concerned about safety.
Gated communities are good and can
be found for both houses or townhomes. If you are really
concerned about safety, invest in an
alarm company.

I have had a lot of first time home
buyers and it can be scary. Find
yourself a good realtor who will walk you through everything. A realtor
should always watch out for your

This should be a fun time. Take your time and find the right place for you. Don't let the realtor rush you because they want a quick deal.

If you need any help, feel free to call me or send me an email.

Good Luck,
0 votes
Laura Burch, Agent, Spring, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Townhome v. SFH - you have to decide which works best for your lifestyle (and budget of course). SFH involved lots of exterior maintenance that you may not have the time to do. Do you want to just come home and enjoy amenities a townhome would offer ~ or do you love to spend time outside gardening, mowing, doing small repairs, and if not do you have the budget to take care of minor exterior repairs when they pop up? Townhomes look pretty good to me sometimes! When it is 800 degrees outside, the last thing I want to do is MOW! :)

Security is relative. Obviously living in a safe neighborhood is important. The best thing to do is to drive through the area in which you want to live. Check out cars that are parked, how traffic flow is, if there is a public bus line, are there buisnesses in the area that might be questionable. Do this on as many different times of day and you be the judge based on what you see happening in the area. You can also check the web for more specific area on crime statistics. Local police departments, and the best source of information is the Nosey Neighbor on the block!! Knock on a few doors (Or have your agent do this) and find out what is going on from people who live there.

You can always hire an attorney - that is a personal choice. The beauty of the Realtor/Client relationship is the fact that when you sign a Buyers Representation Agreement, the agent works FOR YOU! They are supposed to explain everything to you, hold your hand through the process and without crossing the line of giving you advice to giving you LEGAL advice, a good agent can be the only resource you use.

You are welcome to contact me if you have more questions, or if you would like to sit down with me and find out how I can help you, we can do that too.

I wish you the Best of LUCK!
0 votes
Gail W. Nash, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hopefully we can find you a townhome without such a high maintenance fee. Some are as low as $50, and that usually covers electricity for common lighting and the grounds maintenance. Condominiums are historically higher in their maintenance fees, especially high rise buildings.
Let me know if you want to be restricted to the Tanglewood/Galleria area, and I'll be happy to try to find you a place that fits your needs and your budget!
Gail Nash
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0 votes
Rina Podolsky, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi First time home buyer,

To decide between a single family and a townhome or condo you have to look at several things. Does the townhome offer amenities? is it gated? are the rules and regulations too strict? are you ok with living in an area with strict guidelines? are you ok with living in an area with NO guidelines.

one very important thing to look at when buying a townhome is the current financial condition of their HOA, do they have enough in reserves? are they in a healthy situation? do they have any projected increases in their fees in the future or extra assessments?

As far as investments, Detached homes tend to have a better re-sell rate and keep their value more tan attached homes, however, areas that are governed by an HOA have also a better historical performance than those with no HOA.

From a safety point of view, I am not familiar with the Houston areas and their crime rates, all I can tell you is that it is better to buy a smaller home in a safer area than a larger one in one that is not as safe, even if the larger one is gated. If you are in a good area with neighbors close by, it does not have to be a town home to be safe but you have to decide what feels best for you.

Finally, you DO need someone to look after your best interest, if the broker is only representing the seller, you need to find someone to represent YOU. This can be a local agent who will be compensated by the seller in most cases, or you can get a real estate attorney. If it is a new home, make sure you get someone to look at the contract and to look for resale payment clauses, some builders have started putting these in and it is important for you to know what you are getting yourself into.

I hope this helps, if you want to ask me any specific questions feel free to contact me or if you want me to help you find a reputable agent in your area I will be happy to do so.

Good luck and happy searching!!!

Rina Podolsky

San Diego Exclusive Properties
0 votes
Francisca Ma…, , Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi Buyer,

As an attorney and real estate broker, I think you should sit down with a real estate professional to really discuss your options. While a real estate agent may never discuss the safety of a home or neighborhood, you can easily check the crime reports for a particular neighborhood by going online. So the style of home (SFH vs. TH) is less of a deciding point when it comes to safety. Secondly, you should also consider your lifestyle and 5 year plan when choosing a home. For example, I cook alot and go grocery shopping each week (for a lot of food!). So carrying my groceries up several flights of stairs is incovenient. Therefore, I prefer a home where groceries are carried into the first floor and not up several flights of stairs. I also entertain quite often and prefer an open floor plan. These "lifestyle" choices are the things that should determine the type home you purchase.
In terms of your lawyer questions, a real estate agent may not construe the provisions of a contract and while they should act in your best interests and at your direction, they may not give legal advice. You may hire an attorney or a real estate agent to assist you or you can hire both. However, you will probably have to pay the attorney seperately while the agent will customarily be compensated by the seller.
I also recommend working with an agent who is experienced with first time buyers. The process is more daunting to many first time buyers and a certain level of skill is required.

Good luck!!
0 votes
Gabriel Cada…, Agent, TOMBALL, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
There are things you need to consider: A Townhome offers you more security and the maintenance some times include all the utilities and even the cable and the internet, all depends on the HOA, so in order to understand if the maintenance is high or not, you need to find out what is included first and then look at the premises to appreciate if the complex is well maintained or not; that will give you an idea of the management performance. In a SFH you will have to run the maintenance and the bills separately, so the expenses may be similar than in a Townhome. At the end of the road is about preference and convenience. If you need more information about this dilemma, I will be more than glad to assist you with that in order for you to take the best and more informed decision. My email contact is:
0 votes
Tonya White, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011

You do NOT have to a Lawyer before signing the contract however you should most definitely be working with a Realtor, someone who will look at for you best interest, negotiate price, repairs, etc. and even more importantly because you are a first time buyer and you need someone to explain to you the details of the contract and the home buying process and you are right it is very nerve racking! It is really personal preference as to whether you prefer a Townhouse or a Single Family Home. Security is a factor however if that is a concern you are having something even more safe would be a Hi-Rise Condo. $500 is a lot and if you add if you finance it with your mortgage you map wind up paying interest on the Maintenance Fee as well as the Loan. With a Single Family Home there is the yard to maintain however there are so many landscaping companies competing these days you can get a great deal. You can always have an alarm installed as well! Just think with that $500 you could buying an even Bigger & Better house!!! Just a few things to think about!

If you are NOT working with a Realtor I would be more than happy to help you find something!

Please call or email me so I can get a bit more information as to what you are looking for.

Tonya White
PowerHouse Properties
(832) 489-9640
0 votes
Jonas, , Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
Hi there!

This is a great question! Personally I don't think $500 per month is worth it. Depending on what part of town you want to be in, there are some great SFH's available for the same price as a townhome. Again..this depends on where you want to be. Hiring an attorney is always your choice, but a broker and or agent should look out for your best interest.

A good Realtor should help to ease the nerve rocking also.

Best of luck on your new home purchase!

If my office can be of any assistance, please let me know!!

Jonas Mancuso
Remax / Lakelend
0 votes
Sergio Herna…, , Naples, FL
Mon Jan 31, 2011
No doubt you'll find a single family home that's safe and secure.

As an investment in real estate, there is no equal to a single family home.
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Diane Schrak…, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011

Buying a townhome can be nice but the maintenance fee can be rediculous. You would first need to see what the maintenance fee includes. Sometimes it does not include hardly anything.

You also need to think about parking. Alot of townhomes in Houston do not include that much parking so if you like to entertain, you are very limited as far as parking goes.

As far as being "safe", you can always look into buying in a gated community. I do not think buying a townhome will make necessarily "safer" than buying a free standing house.

The broker is supposed to look out for your benefits. If you have a legal question, however, we cannot discuss legal questions with you.

I would be priveleged if you would let me help you find your first home! I work with first time home buyers all the time and would love the opportunity to help you too! I hope to hear from you soon!

Diane Hermis
Total Real Estate Services
0 votes
Emily Covey, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011
A single-family home will in most cases hold its value or appreciate more than a condo or townhome. And the maintenance fee is basically like continuing to pay rent. You are not gaining equity from it! But your personal level of comfort is also important, so if you feel more comfortable in a townhome environment as a single person, then that should be considered.

As far as hiring a lawyer, we will always recommend you have a lawyer review contracts for you, but it is not something that every buyer does. We all would like to have lawyers in our families for that reason!

Let me know if I can help you in your purchase. Good luck!
0 votes
Mirna Johnson, Agent, Houston, TX
Mon Jan 31, 2011

If you are working with a realtor, they should be working for you and what's in your best interest. Most townhomes do have maintenance fees that are either paid monthly or yearly it depends on the complex itself. If you do have a realtor I would suggest you talk to them about your concerns. If you do not have a realtor please call me and I will be glad to assist you.

Mirna Johnson
Re/MAX CityView
0 votes
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