Betty Epperson of Epperson Realty Group

News > Townhome or Condominium, What's the Difference?

Austin Townhomes and condos are usually thought of as different kinds of structures in a shared community. Most people think of a townhome as a multiple story structure like those at The Hillside in Northwest Austin -  that has one or more shared walls, an attached garage, a private patio or balcony and a small yard. They’re like little houses without all the upkeep of a single family home. 

Likewise, most people think of a condo as an apartment that you own. It has shared walls and is part of a building with other units in it. Condos can be multiple floors but they are generally thought to be single story or flat floor plans. They may or may not have patios or balconies and they usually don’t have attached garages.

There is, in fact, a legal description for both. It’s important to find out what type of home you’re actually considering because the rules about what you can and can’t do with the property and what you’re responsible for maintaining will depend on it. The difference may also have an impact on financing. It can be easier to get an FHA or VA loan for a townhome than it is for a condo.

Over the last decade or so developers have zeroed in on the prestige associated with the townhome and have started building condos that look like townhomes. These days you can’t tell what’s a townhome and what’s a condo based solely on how they look. The only way to know for sure is to check the legal description and verify it in escrow.

Townhomes are legally described as Planned Unit Developments or PUDs. It’s all about ownership. Townhomes actually give buyers ownership of the land they’re built on and sometimes the small yard surrounding it.  The legal description of a townhome will contain a lot and a block number. Townhome owners usually have at least some responsibility for maintaining the exterior of the structure as well.

Owning the land doesn’t make that much difference from a practical standpoint. Like most single family home developments, townhomes and condos usually have Homeowners associations (HOAs) which restrict or prohibit making cosmetic changes to individual units and that may include what townhome owners can do with their yards.

Condo owners, on the other hand, don’t own the land they’re built on.They own “the space between the walls, floor and ceiling” and an undivided interest in the common areas. This means everyone co-owns the shared entrances, laundry rooms, pools, parking and other shared amenities. The legal description of a condo will most likely contain a unit number.

Condo owners are responsible for maintaining the interior of their unit, including the electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling and appliances. They are not usually responsible for any exterior maintenance. The HOA usually takes care of the entire development including the roofing, gutters, fencing, siding, roads, parking structures and landscaping.

Just because it looks like a townhome doesn’t mean it is a townhome. Check the legal description. It’s also a good idea to read the HOA’s by-laws to find out exactly what they are responsible for maintaining and what responsibilities belong to the individual homeowner.  Verifying the financial condition of the HOA to determine if they’ve been good stewards with the monthly dues is also highly recommended before buying.

For more, visit our page for Austin Townhomes for Sale.


Though not guaranteed, information and statistics in this article have been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

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You might also be interested in THE HILLSIDETHE HILLSIDE Condos For Sale!

Award winning urban modern design and spectacular hill and city views make the Hillside townhomes an excellent choice for Northwest Austin living. The Hillside is ideally located between downtown Austin, Lake Travis and the Texas Hill Country on FM 2222. The community is surrounded by 450 acres of conservation woodlands and features large, open floor plans, 10 foot and vaulted ceilings, hard wood flooring, granite countertops, 8 foot glass sliders and solid, knotty Alder front doors. ...

Logo for Fair Housing ActThe Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on color, race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.

Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. The information being provided is for consumer's personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. This information, including square footage, while not guaranteed, has been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

Last Updated: 2024-05-23