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Townhouses often can make an excellent “middle ground” between a detached single family home and a full fledged condominium because, to some degree, they offer attributes of both.

For purposes of definition, we will describe a townhouse as a home that is attached to one or more other houses, but which sits directly on a parcel of land that you also own (if you don’t own the land, it is a condominium). For this discussion, townhouses can ranges from duplexes and triplexes all the way through huge townhouse communities consisting of hundreds of similar homes.

There is a good degree of variance in the way townhouse communities are structured. It may be a simple agreement (as is often the case of duplexes and triplexes) that each parcel of land and the home that sits on it is separately owned. In the case of larger townhouse communities, you will generally have an additional shared ownership in the common areas of the complex as well as any amenities such as swimming pools, park areas, etc. This ownership you will share jointly with all other townhouse owners in the complex.

In any townhouse purchase that involves an Homeowners’ Association, it is vitally important to get as much information as you can, since the association can have a considerable impact on your ownership experience!

Advantages of Townhouses
* May have less exterior maintenance and repairs to be responsible for.
* Having a neighbor’s home attached to yours may bring a higher level of security.
* There may be amenities in the community (for example, pools, tennis courts, playgrounds and the like).

Disadvantages of Townhouses
* You will be responsible for payment of Home Owner’s Association fees.
* You give up privacy when compared to single family homes.
* Your options for changing the exterior look of your house will be limited.

Is a Townhouse for You? It is if…
* You like the idea of your “space” but not having to deal with most exterior maintenance has even more appeal.
* A small backyard “retreat” or deck is just about all the yard you need.
* The idea of having neighbors close doesn’t really bother you—you just don’t want them above and below as well as next to you!

This article courtesy of The Home Buyer’s Information Center, a complete guide to buying a home. 2002

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