When deciding between a condo vs. a townhouse to purchase in New York City, most people think about condos and co-ops. However, there are several differences between these two types of apartments. Of course, depending on your needs, one will be better than the other. But if you’re on the fence about what kind of NYC property to buy then, townhouses should also be of consideration. These mostly historic buildings, sometimes called brownstones, always appear in every movie or TV drama set in NYC.
Besides being beautiful and unique, they provide a level of privacy that you won’t find in any other NYC building. But owning one also means taking on the responsibility of maintaining it. The management will handle something you don’t have to worry about with a condo building as any maintenance.
To help you decide between condo vs. townhouse, we take a close look at both property types. If it’s evident in your mind what you’re looking for in a property, then it should look pretty obvious which one is the right fit for you.
What is a Condo?What is a Condo?
Similar to a townhouse, but unlike a co-op, a condo is a real property that you own. You get your deed and tax bill that you’ll own free and clear. You are still bound by some house rules and restrictions from the condo board. But at nothing like the level, you would experience in a co-op apartment. You’ll also pay common charges to cover the building’s management fees and operating costs.
It is freeing you from any responsibility to look after maintenance and building upkeep. But you’ll still be responsible for any maintenance in your lot. While you will have to share the building with other residents, you’ll also get access to the building’s amenities—for instance, a pool, gym, restaurant, or roof deck.
What is a Townhouse?What is a Townhouse?
You get to purchase a real property that you fully own with a townhouse, but there will be no condo board telling you what to do or restricting your options to do renovations. No condo board also means the sales process is a lot faster and smoother. As such, you can expect to close a lot quicker. Also, buying a townhouse means owning an actual house rather than an apartment. They typically come with two or more floors and often include a backyard, deck, terrace and are usually located on quiet tree-lined streets.
Buying a townhouse also means owning a property with unique design features from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Expect beautiful façades, spiral staircase, ornamental fireplaces, and beautiful doorways. Unfortunately, new developments usually won’t include all of these older architectural details.
Condo vs. Townhouse: Which is Better?Condo vs. Townhouse: Which is Better?
Which one will suit you best depends on your own needs and what you’re seeking? Compared to condos, townhouses make up a tiny portion of the NYC housing market. They offer far more space and privacy, and you’ll be free from any restrictions against subleasing and renovations. You won’t have to pay any standard condo monthly common charges, but that makes you responsible for handling all maintenance and upkeep.
Condo living means you’ll be staying in an apartment building that will provide security. Making for a safer life but also means being bound by the rules of the condo board. You’ll be living close to other residents who can expect noises, smells, and other annoyances. There’ll be a common monthly charge for upkeep you’ll need to pay each month, but that frees you from having to worry about maintenance and cleaning of the common areas.
Both are similar in a lot of ways, but which is better comes down to your lifestyle. People who don’t live in NYC all year round find condos to suit them better as the building management will handle security and upkeep. Those who value privacy in a quiet residential neighborhood prefer a townhouse vs. a condo. There’s also the financial cost to consider, and townhouses can cost significantly more than condos as you’re buying an entire building. Talk with a real estate agent about condo vs. townhouse, your long-term plans, and what you’re looking for in a home.