One of the most important decisions when buying your first home is what type of home will fit your and your family’s lifestyle best. What type of home will work best for you and your needs now and in the future? Will it be a single family home, townhome, or condominium? And how can you best choose? Each type is different and has its pros and cons but only you and your family can decide what’s right for you. Take a peek at each type of home; its pros and cons; and some guidelines on what you should consider when deciding which type of home to choose.
A single family home is detached from other homes around it and usually has a perimeter of land including a front yard and backyard. As an owner you are responsible for the care and maintenance of the inside and outside of the home as well as the care of the land, pavement, landscaping and any of the other features of the lot the home sits upon.
Pros – A single family home usually offers more privacy, possibly more space, and a lesser density living environment. Also, you are likely to have some more freedom with the exterior of the home to make improvements, change colors, and create an outdoor living environment that suits you and your family. For the space, a single family home will likely cost the most.
Cons – The greatest drawback to having a single family home is that you are responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and repair of everything inside and outside the home. For many first-time homebuyers, the cost and time of this responsibility can be daunting. You will need to have a plan and some savings in place to adequately care for your home and fund maintenance projects or risk damaging its value.
Townhomes are typically defined as a home that is attached on one or both sides, usually multiple floors and located in a higher density, urban neighborhood. Sometimes there will even be a small yard included. Zoning classifications vary by location, so this definition is typical but not universal. Most townhomes are part of a community and are governed by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). The HOA is usually made up of residents and governs the maintenance and upkeep of the exterior of the townhomes and the surrounding grounds and common areas. Townhomes may be more affordable than a single-family home, but may also have less community amenities – such as a pool or gym – than a condo building.
Pros – If you prefer less maintenance and don’t mind sharing a wall on one or two sides, a townhome may be a good fit for you. In most cases, all exterior maintenance including paint, siding, roof, even patios and porches are maintained by the HOA. For families that like to be able to leave home for vacation and not worry about the care of their home, this can be a great option. As a townhome owner you may also have freedom to improve, change, remodel the interior of your home.
Cons – Being a part of a townhome community may mean you have less say in how your home and your neighborhood is maintained. Homeowners Associations are typically run by a small group of elected residents. They make the decisions on the care and upkeep of the entire property. Also, HOA fees and special assessments can be expensive, so you must factor those into your monthly budget.
Condominiums, or condos for short, are typically attached units where you can have adjoining walls above, below, and on either side of your unit. Units are owned by individuals and common areas are owned by the HOA. Often condos are constructed in larger, multi-unit buildings, much like an apartment building.
Pros – For those that want the least amount of responsibility for the upkeep of their home, a condo may be the best choice. Typically, a condo owner is responsible for everything from the paint inward. Thus, owners are not responsible for care of the plumbing, heating, cooling, chimney, etc. Of course, you’ll need to request and carefully consider the HOA guidelines to have a good understanding of what you own as an individual and what the HOA owns because it can vary. The main benefit here is that you have largely worry-free living and can come and go without much concern. Condos are often a great choice for first-time homebuyers because they generally will cost less per square foot than a townhome or single family home.
Cons – Living in a condo means that you will have less privacy and live close to your neighbors, for the most part. You also will have less control over what happens with the property and its maintenance and upkeep. There’s also the HOA fees that you will need to factor into your budget each month. Depending on HOA guidelines, you may also be restricted as to what you can do to improve or remodel the interior of your home. Condos may also restrict whether you can have pets and many other quality of life choices, so make sure you examine the rules and regulations of the property before you buy.
Yes, there are many factors to consider when choosing your first home; but remember, just because it’s your first home doesn’t mean it’s your last home. Homeownership can be a great journey and is certainly an effective way to build long-term financial stability, if done right. When your needs and stage in life change, your desires for the type of home you live in will change too, and you can sell and buy accordingly.
So, relax and choose the home that will fit you best now. And if you’d like to talk it over, contact us, we’d be happy to hash it all out with you!