A row of townhouses in a nice neighborhood.

Condo & Townhouse

Updated March 1, 2019 . AmFam Team

Despite what you might have heard, a condo and a townhouse are not one in the same — each has its own benefits, drawbacks and unique qualities. Find out which one is best for your situation and how you can insure it.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first house or you’re experienced in the home buying process, a townhouse or condo can make a great residence for you and your family. But it’s important to understand that townhouses and condos aren’t one in the same — and before you make a decision on which one you’re going to buy or rent, brush up on the benefits, drawbacks and unique features of both.

What Is a Condo?

A condo, short for condominium, is a home that’s usually physically connected to at least one other unit, looking more like a home than an apartment complex. Condo residents generally share common spaces with each other — most often green space, like front and/or back yards. Condos are often part of community associations to which residents pay fees to have common areas maintained and repaired when necessary.

A condo is different from an apartment, as individual units are usually owned by their residents, or are rented out by their owners instead of a landlord who generally owns a majority, if not all of the units in a building.

What Is a Townhouse?

A townhouse has a distinct appearance, oftentimes much different than that of a condo. They usually look like skinnier versions of regular homes, but are pushed against at least one other home, sharing a wall. They can be part of associations like condos, and each townhome is usually owned by an individual who lives in the home or rents it out.

What Are the Differences Between Condos and Townhouses?

When you consider buying or renting a townhouse, you’ll need to consider the association fees into your decision. In addition, townhouses are usually sold with the land they’re built on, unlike condos. 
Features Condo Townhouse
Architectural Style In big cities, condos can be part of large buildings, much like apartments. In smaller localities, they’re often separated into two units in one building, sharing one wall. However, they’re not limited to these definitions — they come in a wide variety of styles. Townhomes often have the appearance of your prototypical home, except they’re generally smaller than stand-alone houses. They usually have more than one level and share at least one wall with another townhome.
Cost The cost of a condo will vary greatly depending on its size, location and other factors. However, you need to factor in monthly association fees into your decision. Keep in mind that when you buy a condo, the seller usually doesn’t include the land the condo is built on. When you consider buying or renting a townhouse, you’ll need to consider the association fees into your decision. In addition, townhouses are usually sold with the land they’re built on, unlike condos.
Ownership When you buy a condo, the condo association usually owns most of the structure, while you’ll own the interior space and any improvements you make. Townhouses are usually sold with the land they’re built on, adding an extra element of home ownership and investment into your decision.
Fees It depends on locality and individual associations, but condo associations generally take care of more tasks, chores and duties than the townhouse variety. Thus, condo association fees are generally more expensive. Townhouse owners generally maintain ownership of their front and back yard — plus, their associations often aren’t responsible for as much maintenance as their condo counterparts, making their fees lower most of the time.
Rules and Regulations Condo homeowner associations generally govern more common spaces and have more rules and regulations on how those spaces can be used. Townhouse homeowners associations typically don’t have as much common space to govern, but can have rules about how homeowners can alter their home and the space around it.
Amenities A condo is more likely to be a part of a community with amenities similar to that of an apartment complex or luxury living community — things like pools, shared grills and reservable community spaces for parties and other get-togethers. Townhouses are less likely to have the amenities that many condos enjoy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Each association is different, so be sure to get as much information as possible on the amenities that come with your townhouse.
Safety If your condo is a part of an enclosed development, your association might take care of exterior fencing, security and alarms. It’s more likely you’ll have less responsibility for security than you would in a townhouse. Townhouses are less likely to be a part of an enclosed development, leaving the homeowner or renter more responsibility for their home’s security.
Privacy Condos can have units on all sides, making it common for you to hear your neighbors moving around and talking — and vice versa. Townhouses don’t have neighbors on top or bottom, but often share at least one wall with another townhouse.

Condo Insurance vs. Townhouse Insurance

Condo associations typically provide insurance coverage for most of the structure, but they usually don’t extend that coverage to your possessions. That’s where American Family’s condo insurance comes in — we’re here to help you protect your unit, belongings and your livelihood should the unexpected happen.

Condominium insurance includes property protection from things like fire, theft, power surges and covered water damage from plumbing, heating or cooling systems. You’ll get liability protection with your condo insurance policy too, giving you a financial safety net for liability claims and lawsuits brought by others for accidental bodily injury or damage to their property caused by you, your children or your pets.

If you live in a townhouse, you’ll be able to insure your property with either a homeowners insurance policy or condo insurance policy depending on how your homeowners insurance association requires property to be insured.

Want to make sure you’re getting protection from the unexpected and the peace of mind you deserve from your insurance policy? Talk to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) today — they’re always happy to help.

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