Single-Family House, Condo or Townhome—Which is Right for You?

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Buying your first home in North Carolina can be exciting, but also a little overwhelming. Before you even get to the house-hunting phase, you have to decide what type of home you want to purchase. Single-family, townhouse, condominium—oh my! Before you decide, read on to learn the pros and cons of each so you can pick a home that you will enjoy for many years to come.

While many first-time buyers dream of a house with a picket fence and a yard to spend time in, the cost of owning these things can really add up. In general, single-family homes cost more on average than a townhome, and a condominium may cost even less in terms of purchase price. If you are looking to minimize your costs to purchase a home, you may want to look at a condo or a townhome instead of purchasing a single-family house while keeping in mind that townhomes and condos often come with significantly higher homeowner’s association fees and other dues. A real estate agent will be able to help you understand overall costs and provide you with information on fees that might influence your decision.

Many things depend on where you choose to live, and what type of home you have is one of them. Single-family homes are most affordable and most common in the suburban areas, while townhomes and condos are more easily found and purchased closer to the city. While a house downtown might be ideal for your commute, large homes in urban areas can be too much expense for the average home buyer. If you’re looking for more space, stick to the suburbs. If you’re okay with downsizing to be closer to the city, a condo or townhome might be perfect for you.

A major consideration when deciding what type of home might be best for you is just how much home maintenance you are ready and willing to do. A single-family home requires the owner to complete all maintenance tasks inside and outside—there is no landlord or maintenance staff to call when something goes wrong. However, many townhomes and condos come with homeowners’ associations or condo owners’ associations who handle most of the exterior upkeep and common areas. Your HOA and COA fees go toward the cost of maintenance for the entire community, giving you less to look after. While many single-family home neighborhoods also have HOA fees, these fees may not cover maintenance issues and may be less expensive than fees for a condo or townhome. Before deciding which type of home to buy, think on how much maintenance you can handle and consider what costs might be worth it to you.

Proximity to Neighbors
After renting apartments for many years, many first-time buyers are ready to bid farewell to shared walls and close neighbors. However, still others prefer the community aspect of having people close by. If you want space between you and your neighbor, a single-family home is the best way to go, because you will also own the land you live on and not share any walls with anyone, while a townhome or a condo will keep your neighbors closer.

Choosing your first home is a deeply personal decision, and there are many factors to explore. The NC Housing Finance Agency offers the NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ with down payment assistance, a statewide network of lenders and competitive rates that can help make home ownership more affordable. Learn more at