July 7, 2017 12:03 am
For many young adults, an apartment is their first grown-up dwelling. It might be shared space for companionship and savings on expenses, or it might be private space, if affordable. Others might choose apartment living as a long-term situation so they don’t have to worry about property maintenance or the expense of replacing appliances, windows, etc. However, if you’re in an apartment and dreaming of a new lifestyle and address, you have a lot of options to consider. In this article, we’ll point out several advantages of townhome ownership. Let’s get moving.
Affordability and building equity
If you’re ready to think about home-ownership, moving from an apartment to a townhome can make a lot of sense. More than likely a townhome will be more affordable than a single-family home that has more square footage, a larger yard and a higher price tag to purchase and maintain. Townhomes are generally smaller with a lower purchase price to match.
Even with less square footage, the homes are typically well designed, comfortable and attractive. There are wide choices of floor plans to accommodate your preferences. Since you’re already used to apartment living, you will manage just fine with the available space. Utility bills should be surprisingly inexpensive because you’re sharing walls and efficiencies, especially if you choose an inner unit that shares three walls and is only exposed to the elements on one side.
It will take some homework, but there are many mortgage plans available that can help you get into a townhome, possibly with greater ease than you’d think. Ask for help understanding the financial implications. With the purchase, you can expect tax benefits along with the opportunity to build equity in your new home. Look for a well-maintained property in a desirable neighborhood to better your chances for an increase in market value.
Decorate and call it your own
If you’ve grown tired of the repetitious white apartment walls, you’re in for a treat. Once you are the proud owner of a townhome, and you can decorate as you like. Color? You bet. You’ll have every opportunity to paint and decorate the interior of your home to complement your own personality. You can make it cheery, subdued, perky or trendy—whatever is comfy and uplifting to you.
The exterior is another matter since the appearance is governed by the association. Your board of directors will make the choices for exterior colors, siding and roofing. Be sure to look at many different properties to get a good feel for what suits you best. If you like the look and feel of the neighborhood, you’re likely to be happy with it for the long run. The good news is that the association dues you’ll be paying will take care of the maintenance to make sure it stays in good shape.
When looking for availability in your preferred neighborhoods, be sure that you’ll be happy making it your own. Check proximity to work, dining, shopping and recreation. Can you ride your bike or use public transportation? How far away are your friends and family? Another consideration is parking in the neighborhood. Do you have a large enough garage? Is there additional parking available for an extra car or for visitors? Thinking these things through ahead of time will help you choose a property that you’ll love to call home.
Outdoor maintenance is included
For those of you who don’t relish the idea of mowing, trimming or weeding, here’s more good news. They’ve got you covered. The association hires a lawn service so you won’t have to take that on yourself. No need for all the lawn equipment and tools either. The same can be said for snow removal which sounds pretty good when it’s freezing outside and the wind is blowing in your face. Shoveling will be required only when there’s minimal snow cover, usually under 2 inches, and you can probably handle that.
Monthly dues will usually include exterior maintenance, roofing, siding, driveways, sidewalks, trash service, sprinkler systems, and sometimes pest control. Be sure to ask. In most areas, you’ll have a patio and can grill to your heart’s content (something that you often can’t do in an apartment setting).
Undoubtedly, you like the looks of the building or you wouldn’t want to buy it. The association will manage all the details so it continues to look nice. If there is storm damage, they will handle the claim with the insurance company. Yes, the association insures the exterior of the building for you which means you only insure the inside and your belongings. This should mean that the cost of property insurance won’t be too much different than you were paying while in an apartment, and far less than if carrying coverage for a single-family home.
When searching for a townhome, be sure to inquire about any amenities that might be included. If you’re interested in a tennis court, swimming pool, fitness center, party room, bike trails, etc., these can be delightful perks. Be aware that with more amenities, you’ll also have higher monthly association dues. If they’re meaningful to you, it will be worth it. If not, look for a smaller community without the added amenities.
Freedom to choose how you use your time
Life gets busy, and the more flexibility you have about how you invest your time, the better. Townhome living is a lot like apartment living in that regard. You can choose to devote your time to work or recreation, family or friends. You can take time for exercise and you can travel. All of this because you have less time required to maintain your residence. It also seems that because there is less space in a townhome, you accumulate less (and have less to take care of) than in a single-family home.
Each townhome association has a board of directors to help manage the property, hopefully in everyone’s best interests. The team is generally made up of homeowners who are dedicated to protecting your collective investment and ensuring that operations run smoothly. There will most often be a property management company to take care of the financial operations and offer advice for vendors and necessary improvements. If you like to get involved in the details, you can run for election and serve as a director. If not, you’re free to invest your time elsewhere.
When looking at townhomes, you can ask your realtor for a quick course on homeowner associations and governing documents. S/he will help you look them over so you understand the rules, regulations and homeowner obligations. There are often rules regarding pets, common grounds use, exterior plants, when to put up and take down holiday decorations, where to park, garage sales, etc. There are likely rules about renting out your townhome as well. It’s not a bad thing. These rules help keep the standards (and values) up.
Find a good location for you—and for eventual resale
Location. Location. Location. This mantra applies to townhome purchases as well as any other real estate transaction. A location that is perfect for you will likely be as desirable for the next person. It’s a good idea to keep resale in the back of your mind even though it’s not a priority just yet. When asking about the real value of the home and those like it, also ask about expected resale value. There are no solid answers on that one, but ideas from informed sources will help you feel comfortable with your decision.
Finding the right home is a task that deserves some serious focus. Ask a lot of questions about the neighborhood and visit at different times of the day and week. While doing this, you’ll also notice traffic patterns and accessibility. Purchasing a home carries with it a sense of belonging—for years and sometimes for a lifetime. It’s important in either case to make sure you will really feel at home there.
With the personal commitment and financial investment comes pressure to get it right. Take time to grasp the basics of the purchase transaction and financing details. You’ll learn a lot from the many professionals you’ll be working with to get the job done. Their store of knowledge and experience will encourage you and give you confidence in the decision-making process. Keep your lifestyle priorities in sight so you can envision what life in a specific property would feel like to you.
At times, purchasing a home can be stressful. If it seems overwhelming, take it slow and give yourself some grace to consider all the aspects that will be important to you and your future lifestyle. It’s comforting to believe that the right home will be ready for you when you are.
There are plenty of resources and knowledgeable professionals to help you on your way to becoming a homeowner. Check out the financial impact and ask for help as needed. By understanding which features of homeownership are important to you and which neighborhoods you would enjoy as a home base, you’ll feel confident in your final decision.
Buying a townhome can help you build equity, enjoy tax breaks and use your time as you wish, without overexerting yourself on exterior maintenance chores. You’ll benefit from living in a location that’s ideal for you and that you can decorate as if it’s your own personal kingdom (which it will be).
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found inspiration for your future lifestyle choices. If so, please share with a friend who might also like to dream a little about the possibilities of townhome ownership.