Freehold Townhomes for Sale in Kitchener-Waterloo
While many buyers who are interested in real estate begin by exploring the traditional detached or semi-detached single-family home as the most straightforward and manageable road, there are other avenues to pursue.
Townhouses have come into the property spotlight over the last few decades and are becoming a popular item with buyers. Townhouses provide a great compromise between apartment living and the responsibilities of a full-size house.
Types of Townhomes
Townhouses are not necessarily one single type of property, but the general idea is a connection of similar structures and likely mirrored floor plans in each unit. Sometimes called row houses, townhouses are most simply understood as multi-floor residences that can share a roof and walls with neighboring matching homes on one or both sides.
They differ from apartment buildings in that each housing unit has its own private entrance, and those entrances will typically open up directly on or adjacent to a public road. Townhomes provide more living space and privacy than apartment living, and thus have a higher cost, but are less expensive than owning semi-detached or detached single-family dwellings.
Townhouse ownership exists in two categories: condominium or “condo” townhomes in which you only own the interior of the unit while the exterior and property are owned and managed by someone else, and freehold townhomes where you own the entire home and the land it is situated on. Of the two, let’s explore what makes freehold townhouses a great purchase.
Freehold townhomes provide freedom and flexibility to owners that simply don't exist with condo townhouses, but those perks bring added cost and responsibility. Condo townhouse complexes are typically managed by a Homeowners Association, otherwise known as an HOA.
The homeowners' associations are made up of townhouse owners within that single complex, and that committee is responsible for and makes decisions for the entire complex.
They also cover responsibilities like landscaping, upkeep, maintenance, or emergency repairs. But, this convenience comes at the cost of monthly or annual fees paid to the HOA.
Moreover, this means that buyers who prefer autonomy over their property will simply have some options and decisions taken out of their hands. Freehold ownership means full control over the interior and exterior of your townhouse and gives owners the final say.
Generally speaking, freehold townhouses come with a higher price tag than condo townhomes because they provide flexibility.
And because that flexibility provides the option to make improvements and modernizations to both the unit and property, they also appreciate in value at a faster pace than a condo townhouse.
These factors have made freehold townhouses a much sought-after investment as the increased demand has in turn increased their value in the marketplace.
As such, their popularity has made them more costly compared to their condo counterparts. However, with no monthly fees coming out of pocket on top of the mortgage payment, it could allow for a higher return on the investment a few years after purchase.
While the monthly costs will usually be lower without condo fees, the overall base price for ownership of a freehold townhome will be more expensive and in some cases approach the same cost of detached or semi-detached homes.
Some factors make freehold townhomes the lesser option compared to condo townhomes, though. Size can be an issue for some since even though you will have the advantage of a basement and a yard that an apartment doesn’t have, it will still be a relatively small basement and yard as compared to larger detached or semi-detached single-family spaces.
So while you will own the whole townhouse and yard to do whatever you’d like with, there will still be less of it to do improvements to than some other properties. The benefit of ownership does provide the ability to modernize and renovate in any way and at any time, but without the safety net of HOA maintenance fees an emergency expense could also arise at any time.
Townhomes are still susceptible to classic homeowner issues that sneak up on the place like leaking roofs, broken-down furnaces, or plumbing problems. Ownership of the exterior of the home now means it can be upgraded, but it also means that if a tree falls into the siding it’s the owner’s direct cost to repair.
The smaller homeowner responsibilities will fall back into your hands as well such as mowing the lawn or shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks, as well as leaf blowing and other regular landscaping activities. And those condo/HOA fees that aren’t getting paid sometimes cover more than the maintenance, repair, and upkeep.
They often grant owners and tenants access to shared communal spaces like walking paths and courtyards, playgrounds, gyms, pools, or other amenities. Freehold townhome ownership grants you the townhome and yard and basement, but not the outside communal perks of a condominium’s system.
The rules and regulations that come along with condo/homeowner association townhouses are also something to consider. Depending on preference, all the guidelines might feel a little restricting compared to the prospects of freehold townhouses. HOAs might have a long list of restrictions like not allowing pets in the unit, limitations on the hours of use for shared spaces, or strict parking rules.
But most of the rules are realistically in place for the sake of residents and their property, whereas when those guidelines are gone your attached freehold neighbours are free to do as little as they please in regards to actually being neighbourly.
If they let their grass grow, leave their sidewalks covered with snow and ice, or constantly cause a ruckus in the yard there aren’t any direct governing bodies you can complain to.
With everything taken into consideration, the freehold townhouse carries its share of pros and cons. While the price-point might be higher, they appreciate fast and owners have the option to put in work to the property to speed that increase up.
They bring more responsibility to the table in regard to upkeep tasks both large and small but save on the cost of having to pay monthly condo fees to have those things be someone else’s responsibility. In the end, they are a great target for buyers and are a great option for home ownership in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.
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