What is the legal difference between a condo and a townhouse/townhome in Orange County California?

Asked by Justkat, Aliso Viejo, CA Wed Dec 1, 2010

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Karen Parsons…, Agent, Laguna Beach, CA
Wed Dec 15, 2010

In California there is no legal term "townhouse" it's more the description of the layout. The townhouse is commonly known to be a 2 story home. But normally it's a condo by legal definition.

There are also homes called PUDs (Planned Unit Developments). This is different in that the PUD owners own the land and have a right to use the common areas....in a condo the owner owns the unit and a percentage of the common areas. This is not a huge legal definition....but my brokerage training coming back to mind. :)

Hope this helps....

1 vote
Mary and Mic…, Agent, Yorba Linda, CA
Tue Dec 14, 2010
Typically, the owner of a condo owns only the interiors of the condo, whereas the owner of a townhome owns the land as well as the interiors plus any yard or deck. Condos may be on any floor of a structure, whereby a townhome starts from the ground floor and may be multi-storied.
0 votes
Scott Bingham, Agent, San Clemente, CA
Wed Dec 1, 2010
You can see all condos and townhomes in Aliso Viejo and all of Orange County at our website: http://www.bcre.com. View a few listings and you will soon be able to get a better picture of what constitues a condo as opposed to a townhome.


Scott Bingham, Beach Cities Real Estate
Web Reference:  http://www.bcre.com
0 votes
Tim Moore, Agent, Kitty Hawk, NC
Wed Dec 1, 2010
A condo will have a set of rules and an association. Condos can be set up differently and a buyer needs to see and read the condo documents to know what they own, what the rules are with reguards to taxes, fees, maintenance and who owns what. Many condos are structured so that an owner owns from Paint to Paint which is a term meaning you own the inside from one wall to the other while the condo assoc owns the walls and roof and decks and these are covered by the condo assoc fees.

A town house is a term for a style of 2 or three story house that is much like an apartment but with 2 or three levels of living space and are in multifamily buildings. A town house can be a condo but it is the condo association that makes it a condo.
0 votes
Vicki Lloyd, , Lake Forest, CA
Wed Dec 1, 2010
As the first answer said, a townhouse is a physical description, and condo is a legal description that defines the common ownership of the land, buildings, and common areas.

In SoCal, almost all townhomes are condos. Townhomes have no other unit above or below them, but are often attached on the sides, although they don't have to be.

The other part that can be so confusing is that there are also DETACHED Condos (that look like single family homes), and ATTACHED Single Family Homes (that look like townhomes!)

The legal description of the property will tell you exactly what it is!
Web Reference:  http://LiveLakeForest.com
0 votes
Corina Conne…, Agent, Aliso Viejo, CA
Wed Dec 1, 2010
Condo is legal description and towhouse is an architecural term.
0 votes
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