The Pros and Cons of Buying a Townhome or Rowhouse

by Matty ByloosJune 20, 2016

When You’re Okay With Sharing a Wall or Two

Townhomes represent a growing segment of the residential real estate market, especially in desirable urban markets where buildable land is at a premium. You can think of a townhome as the midway point between an apartment and a detached house – more private and generally more spacious than the former, but unlike the latter, still attached to neighboring structures.

If you’re deciding between purchasing a stand-alone residence and a townhome, you may be wondering about the pros and cons. So what are the benefits of buying a townhome or row house, and what are the potential drawbacks?

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Townhomes May Be Cheaper

Generally speaking, townhomes tend to be a bit less expensive to purchase than detached homes. This is because they’re less expensive for developers to build than single-family detached housing.

However, a lower sale price doesn’t necessarily mean lower overall costs. Some lenders treat townhomes differently than traditional mortgages, and the cost of borrowing may actually be more expensive.

HOA Fees Can Get Expensive

Your homeowner’s association may help you keep your yard looking great and make sure your trash gets collected, but their assistance comes at a cost. HOA dues can add a significant cost to your monthly expenses, so make sure you take those into account before purchasing a townhome or row house.

As a member of a townhome community, you’ll likely have access to shared amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool fitness facility, and other common areas. If you’re the social type, taking advantage of these perks can be a great way to make new friends and participate in your community.

Assuming you’re the quiet type and your neighbors are, too, noise shouldn’t be an issue. But let’s face it: sometimes life gets noisy. And though many townhomes are designed with sonic isolation in mind, you’re probably going to experience the occasional accidental eavesdropping moment.

(Some) Maintenance Is Part of the Package

Most townhome developments have homeowner’s associations. You’ve probably heard stories about these organizations, maybe not all positive. But one advantage of having an HOA is that they generally cover grounds maintenance costs for shared areas.

Plenty of Living Space

If you’re worried about having enough living space, don’t be. Many townhomes are every bit as roomy as their detached counterparts, and those with particularly smart floor plans can live like a much bigger home.
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Townhomes Have Smaller Yards

One potential drawback about living in a townhome is the size of the yard. You’ll have a lot more private outdoor space than a condo dweller, but calling the average townhouse’s yard “spacious” is a pretty big stretch. Still, there’s generally enough room to comfortably host a few friends for a backyard BBQ, and to let your (smallish) dog get some outdoor time.

Look Out for Pet Restrictions

Earlier, we talked about letting your dog run around in the yard. Well, that’s assuming your townhome association will allow you to have one. You might own the home, but in many townhouse developments, pet ownership is verboten. If you love your four-legged friends, do your research to make sure the community you’re considering will allow you to have fluffy roommates.

Freedom of Expression? Not So Much

If you’re the creative sort and you’re considering living in a townhome, be prepared to fly your freak flag quietly and indoors. Many HOAs expressly prohibit painting your house a crazy color, and you can probably forget about rehearsing your hip-hop group in the garage. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about the neighbor’s heavy metal band, or about the house attached to yours suddenly getting a camouflage makeover.
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Townhomes Are Where You Want to Be

We’re not insinuating that you definitely want to live in a townhome, though that may well be the case. What we are saying is that townhomes tend to be most prevalent in highly desirable areas. If you’re drawn to hot real estate markets where life is exciting, you’ll almost certainly find townhomes there, and they can offer the perks of homeownership without all the mowing and painting.

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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.