Q: What's the Difference Between a Condo and a Townhouse?

By
Real Estate Agent with United Real Estate TX #0552717

{Edited to include the following two words: In Texas.}

Q: What's the Difference Between a Condo and a Townhouse in Texas?

A: There are different types of dwellings that homebuyers can select from when choosing a home.

  • A condominium shares party walls with other units and involves individual ownership of the airspace within the unit itself (from carpet to ceiling and paint to paint), plus shared ownership of any common facilities such as halls, surrounding grounds, pools, etc. as undivided interests with fee simple title.  The ground underneath the condo is not owned by the individual homeowner.  Condos are popular with owners who want the security of owing property but not the responsibility of caring for and maintaining a single family home.
  • Town houses are built on lots owned by the individual homeowners. They could be connected by common walls, usually firewalls, or they could be freestanding homes separated by airspace and attached to each other by exterior shingles and brick or siding.

It gets confusing when condominium complexes include the term "townhouse" or "townhome" in their names.  For example, the 38-unit complex in Addison, Texas on Vitruvian Way, Brooktown Townhomes, is truly a condominium community.  Another example: the condo units at Pecan Square on Beltway in Addison, Texas are condos, even though some units are described as townhouse-style (on more than one floor).  But there are one-story townhomes, too (although none in Addison).  Case in point: Pasquinellis Parker Estates in Plano, Texas has one and two story town homes.

Other types of dwellings besides condo and townhome include: the traditional single family home, cooperatives (not too many of these in Texas), duplexes, retirement communities, manufactured housing, modular homes, and time-shares.

You can search for any type of home for sale in Addison using these links:

Addison Townhomes For Sale

Addison Condos For Sale

Addison Duplexes For Sale

Addison Single Family Homes For Sale

Addison Land/Lots For Sale

Whether you're looking for a condo or townhouse, single family residence or duplex, or even a lot to build on, call me for your Addison real estate home.

Posted by

Lorrie Semler, e-PRO, GRI, SRES, CPRES, CRS
Addison Resident/Addison Specialist                                                      Subscribe Button
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United Real Estate
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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Laurel Stone 12/27/2010 11:41 AM
  2. Julie Baldino 12/30/2010 05:56 PM
Topic:
Home Buying
Location:
Texas Dallas County Addison
Groups:
Collin County, TX Real Estate Professionals
Local Expert
Texas Real Estate
Tags:
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addison condominium
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Rainer
18,943
Alan Wells
Iron Valley Real Estate - Lebanon, PA
Residential and Commercial Sales

Good posting. I have seen Condo's listed as Townhomes and Townhomes listed as Condo's. This is a good way to explain the difference.

Dec 27, 2010 06:59 AM #52
Rainmaker
109,396
Larry Costa
Century 21 Classic Gold, Carver MA - Carver, MA
Realtor, MA Real Estate

Interesting post Lorrie. i guess it varies from state to state. Here in MA a condo refers to a type of ownership whether it's freeetsanding or attached. Each owner has a percentage interest in the land and common area. A townhouse simply refers to the style which typically has at least 2 floors and is a condominium.

Dec 27, 2010 07:53 AM #53
Rainer
86,640
Ron Parise
LocateHomes.com - Cape Coral, FL

Ive always thought that condominium is a form of ownership not a type of construction, A condo can be free standing, attached, or an apartment. A townhouse can be fee simple, leasehold or condominium. Another question you might be asked, is:  whats the difference between a homeowners association and a condominium association?

Dec 27, 2010 11:24 AM #54
Rainmaker
504,451
Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

Interesting to see how definitions vary by location.

In NY, condominimum is a type of ownership and townhouse is a residential style.  We have condo townhomes, co-op townhomes and pud townhomes.  We also have condo's and co-ops that are single level flats or in apartment type buildings.  The type of ownership determines whether its a condo or not and a condo can have many variations of style.

Dec 27, 2010 12:18 PM #55
Rainmaker
323,415
Fred Cope
Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN - Nashville, TN
Looking For Homes With A Smile

Lorrie,

Thank you for your post, and your clarification "in Texas."  I spent more than 25 years as a mortgage loan officer, and dealt with the confusion on an almost daily basis.  I see the confusion is not limited to Tennessee or Texas--that is one of the great things about ActiveRain: your horizons are broadened daily.

I have always encourage agents, buyers, and unlicenced "experts" to review the legal documents: Master Deed, Warranty Deed, Trust Deed, Plat, etc. OR check with your attorney.  You know the drill, "I am not an attorney, and cannot give legal advice, so check with an attorney."

Knowing the type of ownership, and covenants & restrictions is critical to the obtaining of mortgage financing and homeowners insurance.  Condominiums generally have a Master policy in place, and the individual unit owner purchases content coverage and pays their share of the Master policy as part of the monthly condominium fee.  By contrast, fee simple dwellings generally require individual homeowners insurance. 

I would encourage any REALTOR® that feels a void in their understanding about Condominiums to take a real estate attorney to lunch or to the golf course--pick his brain.  By all means, don't try to bluff your client into thinking you are an expert--I promise, it will turn around and bite you.

Furthermore, I suggest a lunch with your mortgage lender & insurance agent to gain insight into the critical issues that arise out of the differences between Condominium and Fee Simple properties.  The FHA 203b loan program covers fee simple residential properties, while Condominiums are covered by the FHA 234 progam.  There are differences in underwriting guidelines between the programs, so beware.

If unwilling to familiarize oneself with the differences, I'd suggest taking a referral fee and let a REALTOR® who is compent in these matters handle the deal.  It is not so complicated as to be beyond understanding, but referral is better than embarrasment or potential lawsuit.  Come to think of it, Lawyers do serve a purpose.  Seriously, several of my friends are lawyers, and I value their counsel.

Again, thank you for this dicussion...

Dec 27, 2010 01:54 PM #56
Rainmaker
1,641,095
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

This is very interesting to me - in our small community we have neither condominiums nor townhouses, so while I knew that both existed, I'd never given thought to the difference between them.

Dec 27, 2010 03:23 PM #57
Rainer
153,480
The Richards Group
CCP, LLC - Denver CO Home & Real Estate - Denver, CO
JD, ABR, GREEN, SFR, Denver CO Home & Real Estate

I always thought it was a question of whether you owned the land underneth!

Dec 27, 2010 03:32 PM #58
Rainer
116,532
Patricia Regan
The Regan Team Home Loan Group - Petaluma, CA

Its important to know if the property you have is a condo or townhouse because it affects the types of financing you can get. Both have HOA dues but only one requires that an HOA questionnnaire is completed... which can open up a can of worms.

Dec 27, 2010 03:41 PM #59
Rainer
37,556
Kimberly Brandon
Smart Moves Real Estate - Venice, FL
Broker/Owner

Mr Tutus was right - but from the comments I see where many of our fellow REALTORS are still confused.  I understand this may vary from state to state - but bottom line is - a condo is a type of ownership - not a style of architecture.  Townhomes may be singe or two or three or more stories and may be condos, or fee simple properties depending on if there have been condo docs filed.  A  PUD can have single family homes, condos, townhomes etc within it.  A PUD is a Planned Unit Development with usually also has commercial property too.  Ownship on the single homes and townhouses are usally fee simple in a PUD.  A great example of a PUD is Celebration, Florida.  When in double check with your title company.  It will make a huge difference to the buyer's lender.

Dec 28, 2010 04:07 AM #60
Rainmaker
1,431,914
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I researched this before.  In California I do not think there is a legal difference, but stylistically you have nailed it.

Dec 28, 2010 04:52 AM #61
Rainmaker
1,007,874
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

@Kimberly in #61:  I suggest you get your facts straight before you make a statement like you are bringing the Ten Commandments down from the mountain, my dear. 

IF... you have researched every single one of the fifty states... and know how the definitions can vary state to state... only then can you even attempt to make such a pronouncement.  Only some of the states conform to your version of the definitions.  Many are different. 

I have sold both new homes and resale in four major markets within the US... and know for a fact that just in those four areas... some definitions DO change.

Things DO change.  Words mean different things in different states.  I suggest you take a chill pill before you come off attempting to be such an expert.

By the way... if you call Bryant "Mr Tutas..." he will probably think you are talking about his father.  <smile>

Dec 28, 2010 09:34 AM #62
Rainmaker
1,298,086
Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

For all out-of-state readers:

Townhomes are NOT condos IN TEXAS.  We have some townhouse-style condos, but those are usually multi-story structures. 

Yes, there are different types of ownership AND yes, there are different styles of structures and condo falls into both categories IN TEXAS

Condos can be one or more stories IN TEXAS.  Townhouses can be one or more stories IN TEXAS.  I personally have never run across a condo that is not part of an HOA in Texas (there may be some, as I'm not familiar with every condo complex in the state), but I have listed a townhouse that was not in an HOA in Texas.

And yes, unless a condo complex is on the FHA approved list or gets an FHA spot approval, the sale won't be with an FHA loan.  In Texas.  And probably everywhere else, too.  There is no FHA approved list for townhouses IN TEXAS.

It's amazing how different states deal with these issues!  Thank goodness I only have real estate laws and definitions to deal with from just one state.

Dec 28, 2010 10:13 AM #63
Rainmaker
1,007,874
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Lorrie:  Thanks so much for your recap of how things are IN TEXAS.  I amazes me sometimes when some folks think what is normal for them in their market... is somehow the norm for the entire country.  Just like all real estate is local... many times many other things about real estate... are local as well.

Again... thanks for the great recap.

Dec 28, 2010 01:06 PM #64
Rainer
46,913
Fay Kelley
Interdimensional Healing Light - New River, AZ
Alternative Healing With Crystal Energy

I thought the condo ownership was just of the condo itself and shared for rest of community facilities, and town house was through the ground and up through the sky ....

Dec 29, 2010 04:01 AM #65
Rainmaker
516,039
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Great discussion and very informative. Thanks, Rainers.

Dec 31, 2010 08:02 AM #66
Anonymous
Peter Michelbach

Hi Lorrie,

great post, great comments! thank you All for sharing - in Australia we also have similar definitions, different from state to state...and as suggested by many, let's be aware of thelocal definitions, do adequate searches to ensure absolute sound procedure. Thank you for this discussion -- Best 2011! Peter ---Perth W.ustralia

Dec 31, 2010 09:19 PM #67
Rainer
69,204
Robert Courtney
Lihue, HI
Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS

Lorrie - Here our hotel rooms are called condo's!  Good blog to have us ready to ask the right questions to our clients to determine what type property and ownership responsibility they want. 

Jan 02, 2011 03:33 AM #68
Rainmaker
648,810
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Great post Lorrie! Love the links, looks like a little Realbird!

Jan 03, 2011 12:10 PM #69
Rainmaker
313,891
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Clear and concise, Lorrie. And the links give a nice variety to the types.

Feb 17, 2011 02:41 AM #70
Rainmaker
1,298,086
Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

Thanks, Glenn.

Feb 17, 2011 02:59 AM #71
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Rainmaker
1,298,086

Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417

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