Did you know that home sales are at one of their highest points in recorded history? It seems that everyone is buying or upgrading. But how can you make that first step on the property ladder?

Many people are skipping the restrictive size of condos and moving straight to a happier medium: the townhouse. Read on as we give our expert guide on buying a townhouse. 

What is a Townhouse?

A townhouse is a small-sized property with multiple floors. They are often part of a larger community run by a homeowners association. Very often, they share exterior walls with some of the other properties within the community. 

If you are wondering, “Should I buy a townhouse?” then they are a great compromise between the lower cost of a condo and the high price of a house. If you are considering buying a townhouse vs house, then you also do not have the sole responsibility for maintenance you would with a house. 

Buying a Townhouse Pros and Cons

Townhouses give you a lot more space than a condo. This makes them better for families and couples. Some of them even come with shared gardens, yards, and communal areas. 

You also get a lot more freedom with a townhouse. They often allow you more room for customization of the property. All of this is for a much lower price tag than a house would be. 

The only downside is the monthly fees. However, if you find the right homeowners association, this often pays for itself in repairs and maintenance. Compared to a house, where you would have all maintenance costs to deal with yourself, they can often be a better long-term deal. 

1. Hire a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent has a number of benefits that can aid you in your search when buying a townhouse. Yes, they do take a fee on closing. However, as the buyer, this is often paid by the seller anyway. 

The first thing an agent will do is advise you on the local area. They will know streets and districts, giving advice on everything from local schools and amenities to crime rates and investment potential.

Once you have the desired location, the agent will be able to look for a townhouse for sale that suits your needs. They will have inside knowledge and may be able to get you access to properties before others. 

When you do find a property, they can negotiate on your behalf. They will also know the price of comparable properties in the area, so you will not overpay. Finally, they will fill out all the forms and organize the legalities of buying the home. 

2. Know the HOA Fees

A homeowners association (HOA) is the group within a property development responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the area. They enforce certain rules, and a fee is paid to them, which goes towards general repairs and improvements. When you purchase a townhouse, it is likely it will be governed by a homeowners association. 

The HOA can save you on fees you would otherwise have to pay out of pocket. For example, they may pay for repairs to the exterior of a property. Before buying a townhouse, you should know what the HOA fee is and what it covers. 

3. Get a Home Inspection

A townhouse needs inspecting, just like any other property. While it may be an added expense, it could save you an awful lot of money later down the line. You need to make sure the inspection includes the interior and exterior of the property. 

If problems are located on the exterior, contact the homeowners association to deal with this. However, it should be fully repaired before you go through with the sale. It may be beneficial to put this into the contract.

Also, take into account any homes around the one you are considering buying. A beautiful, well-maintained home in a dilapidated area is going to have a lower value when you come to sell. In addition, poorly maintained yards, roofs, and outbuildings can even damage your own property. 

4. Check Out the Neighborhood

Although a townhouse gives you a lot more privacy than a condo, the neighborhood is still very important. You will still be in close proximity with neighbors and have ties to the homeowners association. Their lifestyle may not be one that aligns with your own. 

The best idea is to independently check the neighborhood at different times of the day. Visit on a weekend, or late at night. Is it quiet and peaceful, or is there lots of noise from households and traffic?

5. Shop Around for Mortgages and Pre Approval

Start your search for a mortgage early to ensure you get the best deal. You should compare offers from around three to four different lenders. Remember to include all of the charges and fees they may include, as well as the overall deal and interest rates they are offering. 

Once you have this, seek pre-approval. While it is not essential, it can help if you do find a place you want to buy and make an offer. As the lender has already preapproved you, the buyer can trust your offer and it is more likely you will secure the property. 

Buying a Townhouse

When buying a townhouse, do your research. Find a great real estate agent to help you, and seek mortgage pre-approval. You are sure to have your foot on the property ladder in no time. 

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