Also Kirkland has done a great job of creating density near the core of the town. Kirkland has maintained its value in the three downturns I have experienced in my career. The reason is that empty nesters and singles and young professionals like the "walking to restaurants and shops lifestyle".
On another note, right now is an incredible time to by because of the reasonable prices and plentiful supply of all single family inventory. It is also a great time to move up to a more expensive property. That is because you may take a $50,000 haircut on the lower priced property, but the haircut, relatively speaking, will be $100,000 on the higher priced property.
To see graphs on what's happening in the condominium market or the Eastside Market, go to http://www.mcknightrealty.com and click on Market Statistics.
There is no absolute answer for your question. First the price range is important to answer your question and it depends if the townhome condo is in downtown Kirkland or Houghton. Since homes in the downtown area are very expensive it may be that in this location you will receive a higher than normal appreciation on a townhome/condo. The age of the townhome/condo is important and of course, as always, the supply and demand of similar properties. Statistically a single family home will have greater appreciation but I have read reports that there may be a boom in condo/towmhome appreciation starting in the next 2 years. A good test is to look at a complex/price range you are interested in and see if someone has purchased in that complex 5 years ago and factor the appreciation on a recent sold unit and then compare to single family home in the same manor. This gives you a realistic idea of future appreciation. I do believe that the lower end of the price range of any area may gain more appreciation than the mid or higher range in percentage because of the numbers of buyers in the starting price points.
Resident of downtown Kirkland
If you had a townhome next to a single family home in the same location, then the single family home might increase more. But rarely to you find that combination. Some areas appreciate more than others. Some home styles appreciate more than others.
A good townhome in a great location often appreciates more than an obsolete style of single family home in a so-so location.
First, I never like to "assume" but based on the statistical data for homes vs. condos (in general), homes do appreciate more than condos, but not necessarily for the reason that you stated above. I think that appreciation of a property has more to do with the desirability rather than the availability (i.e. more people want single family housing vs. condos). However, depending on the specific area, condos sometimes can (and do) increase more than individual homes.
My recommendation would be to find a property that you like (whether condo or single family home) and base your purchase decision more on your daily lifestyle (what do you want in a home, where do you want to live, etc) than the appreciation factor. As of right now, nothing is really appreciating anyway...
Best of luck in your home (or condo) search!
While I think that assumption in a general sense is true, location is always going to dictate. For example, if you compare a home without a view to a condo with a view and all other amenities equal, the condo may appreciate more. If both properties had equal views as well then the house would probably fair better. Overall we're not exactly talking about an apples to apples comparison. Throwing a townhouse into the equation makes it a bit more difficult especially when it's a zero-lot structure withou a Homeowner's Association. I think it's safe to say that anytime a buyer has to share walls or abide by a ruling entity the perception is not well received as a detached structure. Since buyer's preferences are what really drives market price it can be said that all things equal the single family home will always come out on top.