When it comes to buying a home, most people immediately think there are only a couple of options: apartment/condo or single-family home. But ignoring the feasibility of a townhome would be a huge disservice.
The History of the Townhouse
Wealthy British landowners and nobility originally coined the term “townhouse” in the 18th century. At different points throughout the year, these families would pack up their country estates and bring their entire households – servants and children included – into the city for social gatherings, balls, shows, and black-tie events.
Townhomes allowed these wealthy families to comfortably fit into a single property in the middle of town, without owning a bunch of land that didn’t get used much. In other words, they were compact, yet roomy vacation homes.
As America continued to grow into the late-18th and early-19th centuries and the demand for housing increased, townhomes became popular in the United States as well.
“In North America, the townhouse evolved and came to be known as a house on a small footprint of land comprised of multiple floors,” real estate professional Todd Mahovlich explains. “The homes were usually within walking distance of mass transit and industrial areas and were luxurious enough to suit the wealthy.”
While initially popular in large cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, the townhome eventually became a staple in hundreds of cities and towns across the country – including Houston.
The Advantages of Living in a Townhouse
If you’ve never thought about living in a townhouse before, then you probably aren’t familiar with what makes them so desirable. Thus, for your convenience, we’ve listed a handful of the advantages of townhomes. Check them out:
1. Lower Maintenance
Do you despise pulling weeds, trimming shrubs, and cutting grass? One of the great things about owning a townhome is that you typically get some yard in the front and back, but don’t have to maintain it. Most townhome HOA’s take care of external issues – like landscaping. That’s something you certainly don’t get when you own a single-family house.
2. Location, Location, Location
While townhomes have stretched out into the suburbs in 21st century society, they still tend to be situated in convenient locations. You might not find yourself in the middle of downtown’s hottest district, but you can rest assured that a townhome will put you near plenty of amenities – such as shopping, dining, and entertainment.
3. Sense of Community
There’s something nice about being situated in a townhome community. Whereas single-family homeowners may only have a few neighbors within a few hundred yards, townhome owners have dozens of people within a stone’s throw. This makes it easier to develop a sense of community.
Uniformity, simplicity, and convenience are key objectives in townhome developments. As such, many of the services and amenities that you need will be included in the HOA fee or purchase price. This may include services like pest control, HVAC inspections, and trash service, as well as amenities like swimming pools, exercise facilities, and even car washing stations.
The Disadvantages of Living in a Townhouse
Clearly, there are advantages to calling a townhouse home, but there are also reasons why people decide to purchase single-family homes instead. With that being said, let’s take a brief look at some of the disadvantages of townhomes.
1. Less Privacy
One of the biggest issues people have with townhouses is that you’re actually sharing a physical wall with neighbors on either side. This might not be an issue, but it could prove to be problematic if you live next to people who are, let’s say, less than courteous. Your tiny backyard also won’t be nearly as private as it would in a normal neighborhood with lots of landscaping and space between lots.
2. Limited Freedoms
Depending on the development, the HOA may have very strict restrictions on the changes you can make inside and outside of the home. If you’re someone who likes renovations and updates, this may stifle your creativity and severely limit your options.
3. Financing Challenges
You may assume that financing works the same regardless of what type of property you’re buying, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re buying a townhouse, you may find that your lender treats it more like a condo than a house.
“Some lenders choose to underwrite all townhomes as if they were condos, leading to higher costs. Some have more nuanced guidelines,” explains Gregory Erich Phillips, a veteran in the mortgage industry. “If you are buying in an area with a lot of townhomes, it’s a good idea to find a lender with experience in the area. Maybe even speak to the other owners to find out who they used for financing.”
4. Resale Value
You might get a great deal on a townhome when buying, but you may also have to dish out that same discount when you eventually decide to sell.
“Resale values on townhouses sometimes lag values of single-family homes in certain markets,” personal finance expert Neil Kokemuller writes. “This is especially true in communities that have seen an influx in the availability of condos and townhouses in the early 21st century. Some builders replicate successful developments near the same areas — in effect creating your same home, but newer.”
On the flip side, townhomes are often easier to rent out than single-family homes. When you do decide to buy again, you may be able to rent it out and pick up an additional income stream.
Contact Green Residential Today
One of the biggest draws of Houston is the diversity of living options available both inside the city limits and throughout the suburbs. Whether you want a large single-family home on a plot of farmland or a townhome in the city center, there are plenty of choices for you and your family to select from.
For assistance buying or selling real estate in the Greater Houston Area, please don’t hesitate to contact Green Residential today!