I think based on your more indepth email, I would go with the one that is NOT going to put you in over your head now, or in case you have a job change, extra expenses come up out of the blue, etc. I would rather have something smaller and not panic every 1st of the month or hold my breath and pray that my car don't have to have a major repair. But that IS to the extreme. What you could do is go to a loan calculator and see what the monthly payments would be on the more expensive one versus the payments on the lower priced unit...THEN ADD to the lower priced unit the H.O. Association fees and see how the two TOTAL payments per month compare. If you are going to end up paying OUT of pocket per month almost as much or the same or MORE WITH a HOA, then I would go for the more expensive unit that most likely will give you a better RESALE value in case you do have to sale on down the road.
Now....if you have already done that research...then the bottom line would be WHAT do YOU WANT. The homebuying experience is an emotional one. If you enjoy the yard work, snow shoveling, etc and like to invite people in from out of town, they will need somewhere to sleep or hang out. So, its better to have more room. If push comes to shove, you could always rent a room out to a room mate in the bigger place if you are not a "loner" and can deal with another person in the house. :)
Good luck and thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
A townhouse HOA or PUD may include exterior maintenance but you own the exterior. A condo association almost has to include exterior maintenance because you don't own it, at least not entirely. The condo owners share ownership. A condo can be a unit in a large multi-story building.
Some people will refer to a townhouse style meaning any 2 or more story home with no other unit above or below yours. But a home of that style can be sold as a townhouse or a condo.
Chuck: keep in mind that Yvette is right that condo fees almost always go up. But the part that Yvette is forgetting is that EVERYONE EVERYWHERE pays condo fees. In a townhouse you have to pay all your utilities. (Utilities go up in price.) You have to pay for your own insurance. (Insurance goes up.) You have to take care of your lawn. (You guessed it ... lawn service goes up.)
Just some more food for thought.
In some ways, condominium ownership is a lifestyle. Condo owners enjoy all the tax benefits and financial rewards of owning real estate, but condo owners don't have to deal with yard work, or home maintenance. Condo owners have to deal with community life. Many condo associations have rules about pets or music or other rules to make the property work for the people who live in the condominium. Single family residences and some townhouses don't have this structure.
If you're interested in learning more about condos you might find this site helpful:
As for a condo, do you want any amenities like a pool, underground parking, or security? Many buyers that we work with want these additional amenities that generally aren't available with fee simple ownership and they are willing to pay for them.
My recommendation is decide how you live (amenities you want, are you handy with repairs, do you have money saved for a major home repair, etc) and what type of commute are you willing to accept ( we generally gauge commutes in minutes, not miles, since 5 miles can take 1 hour. From there, look at different neighborhoods to see what appeals to you (do you want to be able to walk to store & restaurants or are you willing to drive to everything). Then start narrowing things down.
One thing to remember is that since condos tend to be price lower than townhomes, there is a larger pool of buyers that can afford them.
Another BIG question is..... how long do you plan to own the property. Different answers and different financial plans - might dictate different purchases. For example, you were thinking to own for say 5 years, then move to another state and sell this - would certainly open you up to buying either the townhome or the condo. Maybe you think you'll stay here 5 years then move up to something larger and keep this as an investment. A savvy investor might opt for the condo now - they are usually easy to keep rented - then go for something nicer later for yourself or family (potential future growth). Different personal situations and different goals mean different choices now.
One thing is sure - this buyers market won't last forever - eventually prices will go up again, and when that happens you want to be sure that you aren't still holed up in a rental.
Another thing that might help is a session with an independant financial advisor. Just buy an hour or two of their time and put all your questions, concerns, and current finances to them for advice. And don't forget the tax benefit of owning.
I hope I've helped more than confused.
In general, a townhome vs a condo is really the buyers preference. A condo is 1st floor, no stairs. A townhouse is 2 stories. Alot of older people go with the condo for the option of NO stairs.
The appreciation rate of the two will vary on the LOCATION it comparing apples for apples... 2 br 2 ba condo vs 2 br 2ba townhouse. Compare sq. footage, age, condition, exactly as an appraiser will do. But the bottom line of the value will be based on the Location and Area that the home is located in.
The homeowners association fees should be "compared" as well in the amenities...comparing apples for apples. If one has lower fees, but they do not have a swimming pool, tennis court, etc etc and is located so far out that you have to pipe the sunshine VS the homeowners association that has NO extra perks except cutting and manicuring the lawn, but they are located near doctors, hospitals, YMCA, shopping etc....All of that needs to be evaluated.
Your decision should be what YOU feel more comfortable with if you are buying it to LIVE in. If you are wanting to purchase and then use it as an investment later to make money, you need to consider the "next" potential buyer and what THE MAJORITY of people are going to rather buy.
Hope this helps.