Townhome or Condo? Understanding The Differences Of These Santa Cruz Properties

Many people use the terms “townhouse” and “condo” interchangeably, but they shouldn’t. These are two different animals entirely through some of the differences are fairly subtle. But if you’re trying to decide whether to buy/rent a townhome or condo, you absolutely must understand the differences in order to choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.

Townhome or Condo in Santa Cruz? – The Basic Differences

When looking at the differences between a townhome and a condo in Santa Cruz, we have to look at a different major aspect of each, for example:


The term “townhouse” refers chiefly to the style of the structure rather than the kind of management and kind of ownership (as is the case with a condo). A townhouse is, basically, a house you own, but it is not free-standing, so you don’t own the land it sits on, but usually the accompanying front and back yards. It is usually a building or unit sharing a wall (or two walls) with the adjoining building(s)/unit(s). The most common townhouse configuration is a row of connected units with no neighboring units above.


A condo, on the other hand, is much like an apartment except that, typically, you jointly own the structure of the building and the common areas along with the other member of an association. It is this style of ownership and management that primarily distinguishes a condo from a townhome. You own the interior of your condo individually, but the building is owned jointly. As a condo owner, you don’t own the land surrounding the structure, only the unit itself, which is typically taxed as an individual entity.

Townhome or Condo in Santa Cruz? – Further Differences

There are, in addition, further and subtler differences between townhouses and condos. And these differences may be even more important to some people than the basic definitional difference. For example:


Townhouse – Built in rows and sharing at least one wall with the adjoining townhouses), often with two or more stories

Condo – Many different styles, though often in a high-rise structure


Townhouse – Unit’s interior and exterior individually owned, but not the common areas

Condo – Only the interior individually owned, with the exterior and common areas jointly owned under the HOA


Townhomes and condos are very similar here, but condos usually offer a more community-focused atmosphere while many townhouses are more private with respect to amenities.


Typically, townhouse ownership comes with lower Homeowner’s Association (HOA) fees. Condo HOA fees are usually higher because they have to go toward paying for the upkeep of the exterior (owing to the fact that it is jointly, and not individually, owned). This is often an important consideration for many people trying to decide whether to buy a townhome or condo in Santa Cruz.


When it comes to homeowner’s insurance rates, though, they are usually lower for condos than for townhouses. Condo owners have to insure only the interior of their home, but townhouse owners usually have to extend coverage to the exterior as well.


For the most part, townhouses are larger than condos because they often have more than one story (which also tends to increase insurance rates)


In general, townhouses offer more privacy than condos because they have only neighboring units and no units above or below them. But condos aren’t always constructed in apartment style and so can afford plenty of privacy too.

Townhome or Condo? – Solving the Dilemma

Despite the many and sometimes obvious differences between townhouses and condos, there remain plenty of exceptions, and, in fact, some townhouses operate as condos. Sometimes, then, it’s difficult to separate out the differences from the similarities to determine which one would better suit your needs and lifestyle. This is where you need the guidance of a qualified real estate professional.

If you’re stuck deciding whether to buy a townhome or condo in Santa Cruz, let us help. Contact us today! 831-588-2334

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