What is the different between Townhouse, Single family home, condos, and apartments?

Asked by Missyfiona, Lakewood, OH Sun Sep 8, 2013

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17
Jamie Tian, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
Hi Fiona,

An apartment is owned by a corporation or a person and the units are all rented out to different people. You cannot purchase a unit in an apartment, you can only lease a unit.

A condo is very similar to an apartment in appearance and function, but each unit of the building is owned by different individuals. Each individual can choose to rent out their unit if they wish, but manage their own unit. There is a homeowner's association (HOA) that takes care of the maintenance and upkeep of common areas, exteriors, and rules of the building. Condos can be high rises or low rises such as 3-4 story buildings.

A townhouse is similar to a condo in that each unit is owned by different individuals. However, townhouses are multi-level units and are typically a row of similar units that share common walls on the left and/or right, but not on the top/bottom. Townhouses are similar to single family homes, but share at least one common wall. Townhouses also have an HOA that take care of common areas/exteriors.

Single family homes are detached properties on their own lot that do not share any walls with other properties. Single family homes offer backyard space and more privacy. Some single family homes in Irvine have an HOA as well, to take care of regulation of community rules and maintenance of parks and community amenities/recreation areas.

Feel free to contact me directly with any other questions regarding Irvine, or home buying in general. I grew up in Irvine and attended elementary through high school there so I know a lot about the area. I would also be happy to email you a list of available properties that fit your search criteria and budget.

Best,

Jamie Tian
Rodeo Realty
(310) 717-1321
JamieTian@RodeoRE.com
DRE #01920120
Web Reference:  http://www.jamietian.com
3 votes
townhouses aren't necessarily multi levels.... as a matter of fact they can be single level AND detached.
Flag Mon Oct 17, 2016
Shutchings, Home Buyer, Irvine, CA
Fri Jun 16, 2017
A townhouse is defined by the International Building Code as: "A single family dwelling unit constructed in a group of three or more attached units in which each unit extends from the foundation to roof with open space on at least two sides."

The building code does not define a condominium.
0 votes
Dianac673, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Mon Jan 16, 2017
Are their townhomes with the master bed on main floor
0 votes
Veronicamark…, Home Buyer, Houston, TX
Wed Sep 16, 2015
Town homes and condos are both owned individually, whereas apartments are owned by the property owner, who typically owns the entire building. A single family home is detached and owned by the individual homeowner. Town homes, condos, and apartments often may seem very similar in look and feel, so the ownership is really what sets them apart, as well as a few other factors, like HOA's.
http://www.ayreoxford.com
0 votes
Margaret Ave…, Agent, Tucson, AZ
Sat Jul 25, 2015
The definitions will vary according to the state you live in. In Arizona, the differences are largely based on how the community is organized and the zoning. The biggest difference in ownership of a condo vs a townhome is that you own the land under the townhome as you would in a single family home. In a condo, you own a fraction of the project. Apartments are typically rentable units. A single family home generally does not share any walls but that isn't the only criteria. I have seen townhomes without shared walls. When buying a home located in a planned community, make sure you read the rules and regulations thoroughly. In Arizona, after you receive the HOA information, you have 5 days to review the rules and regulations and by-laws and accept or reject the property.

Condos can be difficult to finance so make sure you have checked with your lender before you make an offer on a condo. Additionally, make sure you check with your insurance agent during the inspection period to make sure what you are buying is insurable and the insurance is affordable.
0 votes
Margaret Ave…, Agent, Tucson, AZ
Sat Jul 25, 2015
Margaret Avery Moon

The definition of these differences will vary from state to state. In Arizona it has a lot to do with the way the community is organized and how the land is zoned for use. Typically, a town home is similar to a single family residence because you own the land it sits on. That is one of the big differences between condos and town homes. You typically share a wall but there may be a unit or two that doesn't and yet that does not mean it is a single family home because it doesn't share a wall. It will be largely based on the structure of the community. In a condo, you own a fraction of the project and the unit you live in. It is important for you to discuss with your insurance agent the liability of the HOA vs the single owner. In Arizona, when you say apartments, you are typically talking about units that are for rent.
0 votes
Brad Korb, Agent, Burbank, CA
Tue Feb 24, 2015
Hi Fiona! Great Questions here is a brief explanation of each type of property asked.
townhomes: are mutli level, typically have a parking garage on the bottom floor.
Single Family Home: they have no attached walls, yards and garages/carports
condo: they have attached walls and are one level
rentals: any of properties listed about could be used as rentals. There are also apartment buildings that have anywhere from 2-100+ unit in them. Depending where you look there is rent control.
0 votes
lakshashwath, Home Buyer, Chattanooga, TN
Mon Feb 16, 2015
which home type have safety and have resale value ( condo, town,twin and single home)
0 votes
Nicole Fedor…, Agent, Santa Ana, CA
Thu Sep 12, 2013
Hi, Missy Fiona-
I see that you have asked a lot of questions here on Trulia, and a lot of GREAT ones at that!
I would love to help you out with all your needs, and answer all your questions!

Please contact me today!
Nicole Fedorchek, Realtor
Tarbell, Realtors
714-914-5097
realtornicolef@gmail.com
0 votes
Robert Spino…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Mill Valley, CA
Tue Sep 10, 2013
Some great answers below. And from a conventional financing perspective, with easiest to finance at top and hardest to finance at bottom, here is generally how they rate:

Single family home.
Townhome.
Condo.
Apartment.

Hope this helps but let me know if we can be of service!

Rob Spinosa
rspinosa@rpm-mtg.com
0 votes
JR Thrasher, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
Great answer Don.

J.R. Thrasher
http://www.SanDiegoRealEstateVeterans.com
619-929-0105
0 votes
Kevin Keenan, Agent, Irvine, CA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
Good Day, Ms. Liu!

Kevin Keenan here ... I just responded to your e-mail when I noticed your "follow-up" question ... The response provided by Mr. Don Tepper is the best of what I read to which I would add, there is almost ALWAYS an "Association Fee" that is associated with a Condominium or Townhome which pays for the maintenance of "Common Areas" such as those mentioned (i.e. Lobbies and Elevators) as well as Pools, Tennis Courts, Parking Lots, Interior Roads, Landscaping, etc.) There are typically NO such fees with an apartment to the Tenant - as these are paid by the Owner - and in the case of a Single Family Residence, ALL maintenance costs are the responsibility of the Owner.

A townhouse describes a physical structure. Usually, it's one of a string of buildings with common walls. Often, they're 2 or 3 stories tall. There's an end unit, then several interior units, then another end unit.

A single-family home describes a physical structure. It is a stand-alone home, on a piece of ground, with windows on all sides.

A condo describes a legal structure, not a physical structure. Condos often (but not always) are units in a multi-unit building. In a condo, you own everything inside the four walls. Plus you and the other owners jointly own the "common elements" such as the lobby and elevator. Note: Because a condo is a legal structure, it can also describe townhouses and even single-family homes. You can have a townhouse complex that's really condos.

An apartment describes a physical structure. It's a building with 2 or more units owned by someone else. People who live there are tenants. They rent, not own.

I hope this helps and know that if you have any further questions, Ms. Liu, feel welcome to contact me anytime!

Best regards,

Kevin Keenan, MBA, GRI, SFR
Broker / Owner
Millennium K2 Realty
4410 East Casselle Avenue
Orange, CA 92869

kevin.keenan@sbcglobal.net

949-651-1188 [Office]
310-345-2110 [Cell]
0 votes
, ,
Mon Sep 9, 2013
From a lender:

Condos with less than 40% are a higher risk to the lender than a SFR. The pricing will be higher.
The townhouse or planned unit development, although similar to a condo, is not effected by this pricing variance.

Also, FHA and VA both require that a condo be FHA/VA approved. Neither the townhome nor the SFR require this review and approval status.

Both the condo and the townhome (PUD) must have the budget and finance information approved by the lender funding the loan. The delinquency of the home owner dues will be reviewed. In order for the project finances to be approver, there must be a minimum of 75% units current on their dues. **This had been problematic during the foreclosure crisis**.
0 votes
Ingrid Ski R…, Agent, Mission Viejo, CA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
Hi Missy Fiona
I would give the same description for these types of properties
May I ask why you want to know the difference? Can I help you in your search or the planning process?
Contact me and I can help you
Talk to you soon

Ingrid Ski Realtor
949-874-0432
OCAreaHomes@gmail.com
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
A townhouse describes a physical structure. Usually, it's one of a string of buildings with common walls. Often, they're 2 or 3 stories tall. There's an end unit, then several interior units, then another end unit.

A single-family home describes a physical structure. It is a stand-alone home, on a piece of ground, with windows on all sides.

A condo describes a legal structure, not a physical structure. Condos often (but not always) are units in a multi-unit building. In a condo, you own everything inside the four walls. Plus you and the other owners jointly own the "common elements" such as the lobby and elevator. Note: Because a condo is a legal structure, it can also describe townhouses and even single-family homes. You can have a townhouse complex that's really condos.

An apartment describes a physical structure. It's a building with 2 or more units owned by someone else. People who live there are tenants. They rent, not own.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Josh Barnett, Agent, Carney, OK
Mon Sep 9, 2013
Get with your agent on this question.

Best of Luck.
0 votes
Joe Van Foss…, Agent, Fullerton, CA
Mon Sep 9, 2013
A condo is a type of property where you own the unit (apartment/condo) individually, but the use of common areas and facilities controlled by an association (HOA). A condo can be attached or detached. A single family home is a detached property in which you own the home and land. The community may still be governed by an HOA for common areas and facilities (pool, tennis courts, etc). A townhouse is a type of attached home (or condo)--usually 2-3 stories with homes on either side of it.


Best,

Joe Van Fossen
Keller Williams Realty
(714) 584-7154
joe.vanfossen@gmail.com
0 votes
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