What You Should Know About Condos, Townhouses, Duplexes, and Coop Ownerships

What You Should Know About Condos, Townhouses, Duplexes, and Coop Ownerships

Architecture
By Alex Mikayelyan November 29, 2021

Terminology can be very tricky when it comes to real estate. It’s hard to remember every little nuance in all the words that are utilized when buying and selling property. The real estate market is one of the biggest in the country and you will find yourself making huge decisions as to what property to purchase. So, if you’re unfamiliar with all the intricacies of the industry’s terminology, you may end up making a deal that is not in your favor.

When one thinks of real estate, their mind may automatically gravitate towards one-family houses, which is understandable considering that this is one of the most popular types of housing units in the entire country. However, there are plenty of alternatives out there, and living in an urban area, which a large chunk of the population does, means having to pick from a variety of property types. Because the differences between these property types may be subtle, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them. But if you get down to the nitty-gritty and understand the finer details, you’ll discover many ways to differentiate these property types from one another.

Condo

Why You May Want to Invest In a Condo

Why You May Want to Invest In a Condo

When you have a building that is separated into multiple housing units, each of these units is called a condo, apartment, or flat in Europe. Condos are among the most common housing units and are fantastic for those who wish to live in an urbanized area. Flats began to pop up in Europe in the 18th century as cities became more and more urbanized, demanding ergonomic housing to fit factory workers who came from rural regions. It just didn’t make sense to have single-family homes within the city when the population density was growing. 

Advantages

Condos are the perfect dwelling unit for those who live in an urban area. If you work in the downtown area of your city, you won’t need to commute for hours from your suburban bungalow on a daily basis. A bus, subway, or even a bike should suffice. Also, condominiums can be safer than houses to some extent. Landlords are often required to create proper security measures, with guards and surveillance systems. Also, having more people living around you makes it more difficult for anyone to break in since the other tenants may spot them and call the authorities.

Disadvantages

The downside to condos is that they are less personal in more ways than one. For example, if you want to host a party in your condo, you may first need to speak with the landlord to get their permission. A detached house would not have this problem, as long as the party isn’t too loud. Also, there is less personalization with apartments on the exterior.

If you want to have a balcony or add a deck, you should first ask the landlord’s permission to build one, and in many cases, they won’t give it to you. Some landlords may also inhibit the personalization of the interior as well. So if you wish to convert your interior from an industrial to a modern rustic, you may need to jump through several bureaucratic hurdles to do that, or you may simply not be allowed to do that at all. Then there is also the general noise of having to share a building with potentially hundreds of tenants, leaking pipes, faulty electricity, and other utility problems. However, if you can get over these minor hiccups, condos are great for those who live in the city or simply don’t want the added responsibility of maintaining an entire detached house. 

Townhouse

Some Important Details About Living In Townhouses

Some Important Details About Living In Townhouses

If you’re looking to buy a house but are on a tight budget, a townhouse may be the perfect option in today’s steep housing market. You can identify townhouses mostly by their appearance. They look like the standard detached bungalows that you’d see in any suburban residential area throughout the country, but stuck together and sharing a common wall with the neighbors. Each house has its own front door, as well as a backyard, front lawn, and other exterior amenities. Also, depending on the landlord of the townhouse rows, each unit may look different or possibly identical. 

Advantages

The most important advantage of townhouses is that they are more affordable than entirely detached homes. You can find them on the market for a significantly lower price. But despite the lower price, many townhouses do not miss out on the amenities that detached homes have, such as a landscape around the unit, exterior living spaces, and even gardens and sheds. Another major advantage to townhouses is heating. What many less experienced homeowners tend to forget about detached homes is that they get very cold during the winters. Since the exterior walls are exposed on all sides, retaining interior heat is much harder. The advantage of townhouses, however, is that if you have neighbors on either side, not only do you have greater insulation, but heating up the house is a breeze, saving you on utility bills since you also get heating from both sides. 

Disadvantages

If the townhouse row is owned by a landlord, there may be some rules in place which prevent you from personalizing your home’s exterior. But this can also be true if each townhouse has its own separate owner. Because the houses are attached to one another, for the sake of structural integrity or local building codes, you may not be allowed to make exterior additions or modifications, significantly limiting your freedom to customize the facade of your home. Also, as with any attached housing unit, you have less privacy than with a detached one. While the walls that separate the townhouses tend to be quite thick, they are not always enough to muffle the sound of noisy neighbors or prevent any unsavory smells from making their way into your home. There’s also the problem with the resale value since no matter how many luxury additions and remodels your townhouse goes through, a townhouse is still going to have a less impressive resale value than a detached unit. 

Duplex

The Need-to-Know Facts About Duplexes

The Need-to-Know Facts About Duplexes

A duplex is a great compromise for those who are looking to have all the amenities of a detached housing unit but are working with a smaller budget. This isn’t to say that all duplex homes are cheaper or of poorer quality than full detached houses, but they are known to be more reasonably priced.

Advantages

Duplexes may not offer as much privacy as the building will be shared with one or more households, but you still have many of the amenities that you would with a detached house. For example, you can have a front lawn and backyard, as well as a porch and balconies. In some cases you may be sharing these with your neighbors, however, there are duplexes that split these amenities between the two residents, allowing for greater privacy. Owners of duplex homes also have the advantage of additional passive income, as they can live on one side of the building and put out the other side of the duplex for rent

Disadvantages

These advantages do go both ways, however. If you’re the owner of a duplex home and are looking to rent out the other side, it is not guaranteed that you will always have tenants living there. So you will be paying property taxes for the full house, but only living in half of one. Also, all repairs and maintenance are on the homeowners, so if your tenants break something down, it will be your responsibility to fix it. Privacy is also somewhat of a problem, of course, since you will be sharing the building with another household. While it may be more private than living in a condominium, you are still sharing the same building with another family.

Coop

What Makes Coop Ownership Different from Others

What Makes Coop Ownership Different from Others

The traditional structure of owning or renting out an apartment in a condominium, as well as any other type of residential property, is that there is a homeowner or landlord, who oversees the building and you either purchase the housing unit from them or pay rent. Coop ownership functions somewhat differently. Instead of being the owner or renting out a particular unit in a building, you are a shareholder in the entire complex. 

Advantages 

Cooperative ownership is the perfect option for homeowners who do not have the time to maintain their homes themselves. Keep in mind, that responsibilities such as yard work or general maintenance can take a lot of time and energy out of your hands. Having coop ownership means you won’t have to worry about this, as the coop board is responsible for any and all maintenance work. Also, coop housing is great if you’re looking for a sense of community. Detached houses can be a little too isolated at times and may distance you from your neighbors. Coop houses, by nature, bring people together and ask you to be more active in your local community, as you are a partial owner and will need to be engaged with the other tenants. 

Disadvantages

Purchasing shares in the building or complex is a lot harder than it would be with a privately owned building. The corporations that own these buildings tend to be very careful in who they sell shares of their building to. So you should expect a thorough vetting of your financial history. As with other types of housing units, the coop board of owners may put plenty of restrictions on the tenants, such as what you can do with your interior, hosting social gatherings at certain hours and days, and allowing pets inside. 

Common Property Misconceptions

What’s the Difference Between Condo vs. Apartment?

The Subtle Differences Between Condos and Apartments

The Subtle Differences Between Condos and Apartments

Many individuals have been using the words condo and apartment interchangeably without knowing the actual difference between them. Now, the irony of this is that there is actually no inherent difference between the two properties as they are essentially the same. Both are separated homes within a single large building connected via common hallways. The structures or buildings themselves are not different.

The only difference between the two terms is that condos are owned, whereas apartments are basically condos for rent. Now, do keep in mind, that the two words are often used interchangeably and if you search “apartments for sale” no one is going to correct you. Even when looking into the semantics of the two terms you will find plenty of overlaps. However, within the real estate industry, it’s important to know that apartments are rented, condos are purchased.

What's the Difference Between Duplex and Townhouse?

How Townhouses and Duplexes Are Different

How Townhouses and Duplexes Are Different

Another set of terms that are easy to confuse are townhouses and duplexes. It’s easy to confuse these two as they are both separate houses that share a common structural element. For example, townhouses are two or more separate houses that share walls. A duplex, on the other hand, is a single structure that is divided in half to fit two separate households.

Looking at a duplex, you will immediately notice that it is a single structure that is divided in half. The exterior cladding on the sides should be the same, the two housing units will share a roof, and other exterior structures may be common, such as balconies and porches. A townhouse will have completely separate exterior features, with the only commonality being one or two shared exterior walls.

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Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan

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