Question - I'm getting ready to move to a new area, and I want to buy a house. I rented a town home once before, and I really loved it. However, I think a single family home might be cool too. Which should I buy?
Answer - Both styles have their pros and cons. In a town home, you are typically responsible for the interior of the home, and the Home Owners Association (HOA) takes care of the exterior and landscaping. In exchange, you pay a higher HOA fee for this care. The pro is there is obviously less maintenance for the individual homeowner to worry about, but the cons are you have less control over what happens to the exterior of the building. The HOA can spend money on things that you might not have, and they can charge special assessments when there is not enough money in reserves to cover expenditures. There is typically less privacy in a town home because the units are attached.
You have a bit more autonomy in a single family home. You can decide what to repair and when to repair it, although if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, they may send you letters if they think you have let things go. I've gotten a few for trim paint needing to be redone, flower beds needing mulch, etc. The HOA dues are usually lower because they are not responsible for any upkeep on your property. This means you need to save up to replace your own roof when the time comes! You should have a little more privacy in a single family home. Since there are no shared walls and a little space between you and your neighbor, you should have less noise and interruption.
Townhomes are usually a little lower priced than single family homes. If you want the latest finishes and more square footage, a townhome may be a better bet. Single family homes usually appreciate faster, so for investment purposes, buy single family if you can.