Tag Archives: buying a house

Things to Consider When Buying a Townhome

If you’re buying a home but are not interested in keeping up with maintenance, you’re probably looking at buying a condo or townhouse. And while condos can feel very much like living in an apartment, a townhouse gives you a space of your own. While townhomes typically do share a wall with another home (or homes) in the development, buying a townhouse is also buying the little plot of land it sits on, which means getting an outdoor space you’re not likely to find in a condo.

You won’t find townhomes offering as much space as single family detached homes, but by offering more space than a typical condo they can have a lot of appeal for families—or anyone who needs more room than an apartment or condo, without the hassles of owning a single-family home.

But a townhouse isn’t the perfect solution for everyone. Let’s walk through what you should consider before deciding on a townhouse.

You’ll have to deal with a homeowner’s association

If you buy a single-family detached home, the repair and maintenance of it will be on you—but for townhomes, much of the repair and maintenance will be handled by an HOA. Though these services are not free, you’ll pay monthly dues in addition to your mortgage. An HOA will help you avoid unexpected costs (like the need to fix a damaged roof) and they’ll save you time on maintenance tasks by managing the yard and even shoveling the snow. Though this can increase your monthly expenses, it may also be a good way to make your monthly expenses more predictable, since surprise homeownership costs will be few and far between.

If low maintenance homeownership appeals to you, a townhouse could be an ideal fit. However, you should still take a close look at the HOA and what it offers you, because the precise repairs and maintenance they’ll do will vary from association to association.

Still, that association can come with snags if you want to customize your house. For example, you may not be allowed to change the exterior colors or plant whatever you’d like in your front yard. If that’s important to you, check the HOA’s rules (CC&Rs) to see what they allow. If they won’t let you use the property to your liking, you might consider a single family detached home instead.

You may be able to find a townhouse with better amenities

Though what you’ll find in your area will vary, because more townhomes can be built in a smaller space than single family homes, you’re more likely to find them in urban areas—possibly locations where it’s hard or prohibitively expensive to buy a single-family home. For this same reason, it can also be easier to find newly constructed townhomes, which can make it easier to find modern, updated amenities that you might not come by in an older single-family home.

In addition to these extras, buying a townhouse also means you’re buying into a community, and most such communities will also have shared amenities, like a gym, pool, tennis court, or laundry room. Different developments will offer different perks, so if there’s something in particular you have your heart set on, investigate the development to make sure it has just what you want.

It may cost less up-front

Because you’re sharing your home’s walls and foundation with your neighbors, construction costs for a townhouse are often lower than construction costs for a single-family home—which means you’ll pay less to buy one. Even considering the HOA fees (which you should carefully weigh against maintenance and repair costs if you’re trying to decide whether to buy a townhouse or a single-family home), you may be able to get more home for less money by buying a townhouse.

You’ll share a wall with a neighbor

However, there’s a downside to that lower cost—and it’s the fact that you share one or more walls with your neighbors and don’t have a lot of space to get some distance from your fellow community members. Because of this, townhomes can be nosier and offer less privacy than a detached home (though they’ll be quiet to those used to living in a condo or apartment).

In the end, how loud it is really comes down to your neighbors and your own tolerance for living in (relatively) close quarters.

Reprinted with permission from PenFed Credit Union Blog. ©2017. All rights reserved.
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Homebuying Tips: Advice For First-time Home Buyers

Best Advice For First-time Home Buyers

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you’ll have a much easier time finding and financing your next home if you follow these tried and true tips:

  1. Hire an experienced real estate professional:  Buying a first home is a complex process. Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices professional will assist you through the hurdles of neighborhood searches, comparing homes, making an offer, inspections and appraisals, as well as help you identify the best values.
  2. Check and repair your credit: Banks use your credit scores to make lending decisions, so make sure your credit is accurate and deficiency-free. Order your credit reports and scores by visiting http://www.annualcreditreport.com so you can make repairs, if needed.
  3. Get pre-approved: To get pre-approval, you have to apply for a loan and share your income, work history, debts and other information. Your lender will confirm your down payment source, interest rate, type of loan and loan term. Only then will you know exactly how much home you can buy.
  4. Check out federal, state and local government incentives: To learn about first-time home buyer programs, see: http://www.grants.gov or http://www.hud.gov. Click on Housing Authorities to find out what’s being offered in your community.
  5. Prepare to compromise: There’s no perfect home, so you’ll have to prioritize your wish list. Older homes often need cosmetic work so expect to pay more for a home in pristine move-in condition.
  6. Make a long-term investment: Equity is built over time, so plan to occupy your home for several years or more. Your home is also an investment in happiness and that can be the best deal you ever make.