On This Page
OverviewWhat is a condo?What is a townhouse?Condo vs townhouseWhy a condo?Why a townhouse?Do I have to pay HOA fees?The bottom line
hen you're in the market for a home, you should consider all your home options. In this article, we'll get into some of your attached unit options. A condominium and a townhouse will sometimes look similar, but there are key differences that make each unit unique.

What is a condo?

A condo has an HOA that covers the maintenance and upkeep of common areas and amenities.

A condominium, commonly known as a "condo," is a type of housing where the resident owns and maintains an individual unit in a larger complex. Condos can be apartments, townhouses, or single-family homes that are part of a larger development or complex. You’ll find condos in both urban and suburban areas. A condo size ranges from small studios to large multi-bedroom units.  

In a condo complex, a homeowners association (HOA) owns and manages all common areas, including hallways, elevators, and amenities. An elected team of unit owners typically makes up the HOA. They enforce all rules and regulations. Funding for the HOA comes from monthly or annual fees paid by unit owners.  

Condo living has many benefits, such as shared amenities, community security and easy maintenance. Some people, however, may not like the idea of living so close to neighbors, or the rules and regulations of the HOA.

What is a townhouse?

A townhouse may share walls, but the owner owns and takes care of the entire property.

A townhouse is a type of single-family housing unit. A typical townhouse shares walls with one or more neighboring units and has multiple levels. Generally, you’ll find most of the living space on the upper levels with a parking area or garage on the lower level.  

Townhouses often come in a row or group and are generally similar in design and style. In some developments, however, townhouses may be built as detached units. Detached units will on average be smaller than detached single-family homes, but larger than most condos.  

In terms of ownership, a townhouse is a standalone unit owned by the resident. The resident handles the maintenance of the exterior, including the roof, siding, and yard. Townhouses may or may not have an HOA, but if they do, the responsibilities and fees are usually relatively low.  

In summary, a townhouse is a type of housing usually attached to other units and shares walls. The resident handles the maintenance of the exterior, and there may or may not be an HOA. Townhouses are a type of single-family home.

What's the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

It's a question of ownership and maintenance.

The main difference between a condo and a townhouse is ownership and responsibilities of the property.  

A condo owner maintains their individual unit. An HOA maintains other areas, including lawns and common areas as well as any amenities. The condo owners pay a fee to fund the HOA, which will occur monthly or annually.  

A townhouse, on the other hand, is a type of housing where the resident owns and keeps the unit as well as its exterior. There may be an HOA that manages the townhouse community. If this is the case, however, they generally only care for common areas and amenities. The townhouse owner will still maintain their lawn.  

In summary, a condo is an individually owned unit within a larger building or complex with shared common areas and a townhouse is a standalone unit that shares walls with other units and the owner handles the maintenance of the exterior.  

Why would I buy a condo?

Owning a condo has its benefits and drawbacks.


  • Lower maintenance: Condo owners are not responsible for maintaining the exterior of their units or the common areas. This can be a big relief for those who don't want to spend a lot of time or money on upkeep.
  • Amenities: Many condos come with members-only amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses.
  • Location: Condos are often in desirable areas, such as city centers or near the beach. This can be a big plus for those who want to live in a convenient location.
  • Safety and security: Many condos have security features such as gated entrances, security guards or surveillance cameras.
  • Sense of community: Living in a condo complex provides a sense of community and belonging, as residents often have the opportunity to interact with their neighbors and take part in social activities.


  • Monthly fees: Condo owners pay a monthly or annual fee to the homeowner's association (HOA) to cover the costs of maintaining the common areas. This can add up over time.
  • Rules and regulations: Condo owners must follow the rules and regulations set by the HOA, which can be restrictive for some people.
  • Limited privacy: Residents may have to share common areas and walls with their neighbors, which can mean less privacy.
  • Limited control: Condo owners do not have full control over the exterior of their units or the common areas.
  • Shared liability: If something happens in a shared area, the HOA and all the owners share the liability. In a single-family home, the owner handles the whole property.

It's important to weigh the pros and cons of owning a condo before deciding. It may not be the perfect fit for everyone, but for some people, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  

Why would I buy a townhouse?

Owning a townhouse has its own set of pros and cons.


  • Sense of ownership: Townhouses are a single-family home, so the owner has the feeling of owning a standalone property.
  • Space: Townhouses often have multiple levels, or may be detached, which can provide a sense of privacy and separation from neighbors.
  • Maintenance: Townhouse owners take care of the exterior of their units. This can be a pro for people who like to have control over the appearance of their property.
  • Potential for appreciation: Townhouses, like any other real estate, have the potential for appreciation in value over time.


It's important to weigh the pros and cons of owning a townhouse before deciding. It may not be the perfect fit for everyone, but for some people, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Do I have to pay fees at my condo?

Most condo developments have an HOA that requires membership from any condo owner.

Not all condos have homeowner association (HOA) fees. Some condos are self-managed and do not have an HOA. That said, a condo with no HOA is not common. Most condos have an association in place to manage the common areas and amenities, enforce rules and regulations and ensure the maintenance and presentation of the units. In these cases, the unit owners pay HOA fees, typically billed monthly or annually.  

HOA fees can vary depending on the size of the unit, the amenities offered, and the cost of caring for the property. They may cover things like maintenance of common areas, insurance, security, and management fees. You should review the HOA's budget and bylaws before buying a condo. This way you have a clear understanding of what the fees will be and what they get you.  

It's also worth mentioning that HOA fees may increase over time to cover unexpected expenses or to fund the building's upgrade, so it's important to factor that into your overall budget when considering buying a condo.

The bottom line.

Condos and townhouses are great options for first-time and seasoned homeowners.

Condos and townhouses are popular attached unit homes. Both come with their advantages and disadvantages, but the main difference is in ownership. A townhouse, both the interior and exterior, belongs to the resident. A condo, on the other hand, has an HOA to take care of the exterior.  

Both are great options for first-time homebuyers and those on their fifth home. If you're considering a condo or townhouse, be sure to talk to your REALTOR®. They'll be able to help you understand the specifics on both the property and the accompanying HOA.