If you’ve ever thought about buying a townhome, now is the time to do it. Townhouses have been around for more than a century, yet they’re enjoying a resurgence. Townhouse construction jumped 28.1% in 2021. These top tips for buying a townhome can help you not only find a place you love but also happiness with the overall purchasing experience.
Townhouse construction had been declining, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). However, between the fourth quarter of 2020 and 2021, “townhouse construction starts totaled 146,000 units — 28% higher than the prior four-quarter total (114,000).” The association also reported, ”the market share of new townhouses increased to 13% of all single-family starts.”
Townhomes are appealing to “the growing numbers of home buyers looking for medium-density residential neighborhoods, such as urban villages that offer walkable environments and other amenities.” The NAHB suggests this is “particularly true for prospective first-time buyers in high-cost metro areas.”
So, how do you find your townhouse? These tips for buying a townhome can help.
When determining if you can afford a townhome, include:
With the market so tight right now, you might also want to prepare for a possible bidding war.
Obviously, the location and the look of the property will matter. Still, it will be easier to narrow your search if you first think about what you must have in your new home. Maybe you want to have an owner’s suite on the main floor. Or a home office. Or you need to be near running trails. You might want a community with a pool or fitness center. Or a security gate at the community entrance.
When you live in a townhouse you will share a wall with your neighbors. Maybe on both sides of your home. So, you’ll want to listen closely when you’re touring to get a sense of the volume next door.
You’ll also want to visit the common areas. Remember living with that one roommate in college who drove you nuts leaving their dishes in the sink? This is larger scale, though at least it’s all outside your doors. You’re going to be sharing spaces with many other homeowners. So, you’ll want to know what that gym or games room look like and how they are kept up.
It’s always useful to talk to your prospective neighbors before settling on your new home. However, it’s even more important when buying a townhome. After all, you’re going to share adjoining walls and you’ll be living in closer proximity.
If you have the opportunity to talk with members of that townhome community, ask:
Getting a chance to talk to neighbors is one reason to visit the property at different times of the day. You’ll get a better sense of the community and be able to explore the neighborhood too.
If there is a homeowner group, make sure to read its rules for residents. You can learn a lot about what it will be like to live in this community. They may have rules about where you can park, what you need to do with your trash, how you need to keep your exterior looking, and more.
If there’s an HOA website that’s another good thing to check out. You may be able to find out about neighborhood events and affinity groups (book club? Bunco night?). Further, if there are board minutes or newsletters you can gain insights into the community dynamics.
Today you may be OK with taking the stairs between the levels of your townhome. Yet, if you want to live in this house long-term, you may want to think instead about a location where you can age in place.
Additionally, when you buy a townhome, you’re buying the house as it is. There is less room to add value or differentiate your home for resale as you will have a nearly identical floorplan to others in the community. There will likely also be HOA regulations regarding external uniformity.
Don’t overlook this step. Having someone inspect the interior and exterior is as important in a townhouse as at any other property. You’ll want to find out who is responsible for what. In townhouse communities, the HOA may be responsible for any exterior problems.
Your home is attached, so pay close attention to the state of your neighbors’ townhouses. If they aren’t keeping their exterior up that can have a negative impact on your resale value. Even if you aren’t thinking of reselling, you could have issues with your roof or siding if they are lax on maintenance.
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