3 Reasons to Buy a Townhouse Instead of a Standalone Home

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In the market? Here's why a townhouse could be a smart bet.

When people seek out homes -- especially starter homes -- they tend to look at standalone houses. After all, with a detached home, you get your own private outdoor space to enjoy and don't have to share a wall with your neighbors. On the other hand, you can buy a townhouse. They're much like condominiums, but unlike some condos, a townhouse is its own building that's attached to another.

While standalone homes have their benefits, here are three good reasons to consider a townhouse instead.

1. They can be less expensive

A townhouse is attached to another unit on at least one side. But often, townhouses offer the same interior square footage as standalone houses -- they're just not as private. And often, townhomes cost a lot less than comparably sized standalone homes because you share a roof and walls with other units. The less money you spend on a home, the lower your monthly mortgage payments.

2. There's less work involved

When you own a home that includes its own outdoor space, you're responsible for maintaining it. That means you need to cut your grass and trim overgrown hedges in spring and summer, and remove snow in a timely fashion in winter. All of that exterior work can be time consuming, and if you clock long hours at your job, you may not have the time for it. One upside of buying a townhouse is that in some cases you pay a homeowners association fee that covers all exterior maintenance. That extends to your building's roof as well, leaving you with less work. And while you may have a small amount of outdoor space of your own to maintain with a townhouse -- say, a driveway or back deck -- that space is generally minimal.

3. You get more amenities

Unless you buy a large house on an enormous piece of land, you may only be able to fit so many amenities into your backyard. With a townhouse, you may enjoy a host of perks, like access to a swimming pool, playground, tennis courts, and clubhouse where you can mingle with fellow neighbors or host events. Of course, not all townhouse communities are created equal, and in exchange for more amenities, you might pay a higher monthly homeowners association fee. But generally, it's not possible to cram all of those outdoor features into a single backyard. A townhouse community might offer indoor perks, too, like a state-of-the-art gym.

Is a townhouse right for you?

Townhouses are less private than standalone homes, and because they're generally part of a homeowners association, there are rules to follow if you purchase one. Those rules may be more restrictive than you'd like. For example, the rules might dictate that you can't get a dog, or you can't get a certain breed of dog. The rules might also impose quiet hours that don't work for your schedule.

But despite the drawbacks, there's a lot to gain by purchasing a townhouse, especially if you're looking for a starter home. It pays to explore different townhouse communities in your target neighborhood and see if one catches your eye. This holds especially true if you've been in the market for a standalone home but have yet to find one that works for your needs and home-buying budget.

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