Buying a home can be a stressful process, and all of the complicated real estate lingo can make things even more confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. With so many different architecture terms and types of homes out there, it can be hard to know where to begin your home search. Deciding what type of home is the best for your needs is a great place to start. Townhouses and condos are both great types of homes, but there are some key distinctions that might make one of these homes suit your lifestyle better than the other. Let’s start with defining what the architectural differences between a condo and a townhouse are:

What is a Condo?

A condo, or condominium, is a single-residential unit that’s housed within a larger building. Condo layouts vary by building, but most buildings have several units per floor, so you may have other units above, below, or next to you. They can be found anywhere, from luxury high-rises in urban areas to residential buildings in suburban areas.

What is a Townhouse?

A townhouse is a cross between a single-family home and a condo. They’re typically two or three stories tall and share walls with the next-door properties, but they don’t have any units above or below them. Townhouses are often are a popular option for first-time homebuyers and young families, and they can also be found in age-restricted active adult communities.

5 Key Differences Between Condos and Townhouses

Now that you know what the architectural differences between townhouses and condos are, here are some ways that those differences could affect your lifestyle and your wallet.

1. Types of Ownership

One of the main differences between a condo and a townhouse is what maintenance you’re responsible for as an owner. When you own a condo, you’re only responsible for the maintenance of the inside of your individual unit, and you’ll typically pay homeowners’ association dues to cover the maintenance of the building’s exterior, amenities and common property.

For townhouses, there are two types of ownership: fee simple and condominium. With condominium ownership, you only own the inside of the townhome, so upkeep of the home’s exterior and yards will be covered by HOA fees. With fee-simple ownership, you’ll be responsible for maintaining your home, as well as the front, back and side yards.

2. Amenities

Another difference between a condo and a townhouse is the amenities and common spaces that they offer. Amenities vary by community or building, but most condos have great amenities, like pools and gyms, that residents can share. Typically, townhouses have fewer amenities than condos, but some new construction townhome communities actually have more. Most townhomes have a clubhouse, playground, pool or other amenity. However, many new construction townhomes, especially in age-restricted active adult communities, have resort-style amenities. Some even have tennis courts and private gyms that offer group fitness classes.

3. Privacy

Privacy is another key difference between the two home types. Owners of condos or townhouses typically have less privacy than owners of a single-family home. However, this comes at the benefit of living in a type of property that’s easier to maintain. If you’re concerned about having a private yard space or avoiding noisy neighbors, a townhouse might be a better fit for you than a condo. Townhouses normally offer more privacy than condos because you’ll only have neighbors on either side of you, instead of above and below you, too. You’ll also likely have a yard where your kids or pets can play, that’s separate from other common amenities.

4. Homeowners Association Fees

Typically, townhouses have lower HOA fees because they often require less maintenance and have fewer amenities. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll always pay less to maintain a townhouse. if you aren’t paying HOA fees for the maintenance of your townhouse’s landscaping or exterior, you’ll still be responsible for paying for that maintenance when it’s needed.

5. Rules and Regulations

In general, rules and regulations are a bit stricter for condos than townhomes because HOAs play a larger role. There are pros and cons to having more rules, depending on what your preferences as a homeowner are. Some people value having more freedom of expression when it comes to their landscaping and property, whereas others prefer a more uniform look. These rules can be helpful because they make things like assigning parking spaces or keeping up with maintenance efficient, but it might mean you have less freedom to alter the property to your tastes.

Despite all of the differences between condos and townhomes, these types of homes share many similarities and are both great options, depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re still not sure whether a condo or a townhouse is the right fit for you, don’t worry—these aren’t the only types of homes available. Check out these four types of residential homes for more information to help you find your dream home.

No matter what type of home is right for your lifestyle, K. Hovnanian® Homes offers beautifully designed new construction homes to fit your needs and budget.