Many people are attracted to townhouses as they offer much of the benefits of communal developments with the added benefit of offering homeowners a stand-alone property of their own. However, the decision to purchase a townhouse shouldn't be taken lightly; rather, there are a few things you must keep an eye out for when evaluating potential properties. Below are three critical things you must assess in a townhouse before committing to the purchase:
One of the key aspects of buying a townhouse is ensuring that you have enough privacy to get on with your day-to-day life. Townhouses fall somewhere in between a detached property and a condo in the respect that you'll have neighbors on either side of your home. Therefore, you'll need to ensure that the walls are sound-resistant enough to avoid late night wake up calls by your neighbor's dog.
Be wary when asking real estate agents about the soundproofing in place – they'll likely tell you anything to make the sale. Additionally, you'll probably view the property at a reasonable time in the afternoon, meaning you won't be able to experience the night-time noise first-hand. Therefore, the best way to get a feel for the property's soundproofing properties is to ask other townhouse occupants in your row. This will give you a good idea of any potential noisy neighbors in the row and will also give you valuable information about how well the property is at keeping noise out.
Before even stepping into a potential town house, make sure you have a good look around the outside. Maintenance costs can be a new homeowner's nightmare, so it's important to have an idea of how extensive any repair work is likely to be. Of course, with a townhouse, some of these costs – such as roof or drainage repairs – are shared among neighbors. However, any visible flaws or faults to the structure itself are your responsibility and can quickly make a dent in your bank account as you try to get settled in.
If this is your first step on the property ladder, it can be difficult to know exactly what to look out for. To help with this, consider hiring a professional property inspector who will be able to note assist you in evaluating the townhouse. If hiring a professional seems too expensive at this time, keep an eye out for the following problems when inspecting the property yourself:
- Gaps around the outside of external doors and windows. If significant, these could let in rainwater and will increase your energy bills due to drafts.
- Signs of previous leaks, such as water stains on the outside of the building or small collections of mold. Typically, this indicates poor weatherproofing which can be extremely costly down the line.
- Any significant damage to the brickwork that could have an effect on the integrity of the structure itself.
The Homeowners Association
Townhouses are similar to condominiums in that you'll likely become part of the HOA (Homeowners Association). These associations are made up of all residents of the neighborhood and are responsible for regulating communal areas and planning essential renovations that benefit the entire community. Similarly, these are the associations you will have to speak to when planning any extensive renovation that may change the look of your property.
As such, it's important to find a townhouse that has a good HOA before committing to purchase a property. You have to pay an annual fee to become part of the HOA, so you should factor this into your budget when deciding on a property. However, this isn't the only thing you should consider when assessing a community's HOA.
Rather, have a chat with current members of the HOA to get a feel of how the neighborhood is regulated. It's important that you gel with other members of your homeowners association – you don't want to be continually clashing heads. Finding a suitable HOA means not only finding a well-managed association, but also finding a group of people that fit well with your personal values.
If you've ticked the three boxes above, great! You're almost ready to purchase your first townhouse. Before going ahead with the purchase, have a chat with your real estate attorney about the financial implications of home ownership and what sorts of mortgage are available for your requirements.