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Buy townhouse or continue to rent?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I need some advice.

We're looking at buying a small house or a townhouse. We went through our finances and figured out what we could afford for a mortgage payment and all that stuff. We could afford a decent house, but that would just about max us out with money every month, and I would rather live comfortably with money for emergencies and things, then not saving.

So we decided we might be better with a townhouse. We know there would be association fees and rules to follow, but there are some townhouses in the area that are much less than a house - like $20,000-25,000 less. There are some small houses out there for almost the same price as a townhouse, but most need work.

Would it be worth it to buy a townhouse or to continue renting? We would be in the house for at least three years, until FH finishes school. Even after he's done school, if he can find a job in the area, we will stay. He's starting school for mortuary science, so basically have to go where he can find a job. I've done so much research and have heard different opinions on both sides, but wanted to see what everyone here thinks.
post #2 of 15
Some people aren't cut out to own a house or a townhouse. It restricts your freedom, it costs money no matter what you do, and it definitely can cause stress.

On the other hand, if it's yours, you won't be worried about a pet deposit, will you?

Some people say that if you rent for ten years, all you have to show for it is a stack of receipts, whereas if you own a house, you'll have equity. Not necessarily true. In both cases, you've had a place to live. In the current market, our house isn't worth a lot more than it was 11 years ago...although I think that will change, soon.

Keep in mind that your mortgage payment includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

If you're interested in a house, look at some. Maybe you'll fall in love. A townhouse is not a bad option, unless you have something like a motorcycle or hot rod that you need to park in a garage and may be noisy enough to offend neighbors. Also, most townhouse developments do have restrictions on pets, so be sure you know what you're getting into. However, interest rates are currently at record lows, and you could pay off a house significantly faster at the current rates, or afford more house.
post #3 of 15
How many cats do you have?
We looked at Townhouses before they bought this house and there were so many rules and the fees were high.
We would have paid less for a townhouse but are payments would have been higher then our house.
Most of them only took 1 cat and they wanted all the shot records and the day when they were fixed.
There were so many rules it was not worth buying a townhouse.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
On the other hand, if it's yours, you won't be worried about a pet deposit, will you?

Keep in mind that your mortgage payment includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

If you're interested in a house, look at some. Maybe you'll fall in love. A townhouse is not a bad option, unless you have something like a motorcycle or hot rod that you need to park in a garage and may be noisy enough to offend neighbors. Also, most townhouse developments do have restrictions on pets, so be sure you know what you're getting into. However, interest rates are currently at record lows, and you could pay off a house significantly faster at the current rates, or afford more house.
In the apartment we live in, we don't have a pet deposit, so that's something we don't worry about anyways while we're here. I've done all the math for the mortgage, including the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, with the highest amounts just to kind of see what things would be like. We've written down all our finances, which includes the mortgage and everything included, heat, electricity, etc, etc, just to see what we can afford. We aren't counting small houses out, but it seems that the ones that we can afford are the ones that need a lot of work. I actually found the website of the townhouse association and was reading all their rules and such. I'm just trying to get a feel of what people think of townhouses. If were were to get one, we'd get an end unit, because of sell appeal when we do sell it, and the fact we're on the end in the apartment and are already used to it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mews2much View Post
How many cats do you have?
We looked at Townhouses before they bought this house and there were so many rules and the fees were high.
We would have paid less for a townhouse but are payments would have been higher then our house.
Most of them only took 1 cat and they wanted all the shot records and the day when they were fixed.
There were so many rules it was not worth buying a townhouse.
We have two. The one place I've looked at and read the rules allow two pets. So we'd be good in that department. I'm going to calculate payments further tomorrow on my lunch break and see if it would be cheaper or more expensive to buy a townhouse rather than a house.
post #5 of 15
You have a lot to consider.
post #6 of 15
Another thing to keep in mind is if you plan to sell the townhouse ever. From what I have been told condos/townhouses are hard to sell if you want to move.

After no luck finding decent apartment (most were just awful) that allowed our cats without crazy deposits and ridiculous rules, we decided to buy a house. Things are tight, but it's worth it - I'm in school full-time, so just part time work for me for another year. I no longer stress about the landlord coming in & letting the cats out, druggie neighbors, and the trash not being picked up. In our last place the landlord was in more than once a month to inspect this or that!
post #7 of 15
We bought a townhome about 3 years ago. Got a steal on it at the time since it was a foreclosure (but in good condition - no nasty people who wanted to get back at the bank for their inability to pay). We paid what it's probably worth now, and the market is starting to turn around here. We'd be close to even if we sold it now, but we aren't planning on moving anytime soon (unless we hit the Powerball in which case we wouldn't care anyway ).

There are definite advantages to townhome living: no outdoor maintenance, no exterior building maintenance. Those are the BIG two. The HOA fees can be too high, just make sure you know what they include and what other HOAs in the area charge. That info is usually in the real estate listings. If you're really interested in a certain development, go there without the realtor and walk around the place after work. You'll get a pretty good feel for it. You can also ask people what they think of the neighborhood and HOA, just tell them that you're thinking of buying in the development. Most will be honest with you. Take it all with a grain of salt...you may accidentally ask the president of the HOA or someone who is on the verge of being evicted, so anything overly good or overly bad should probably be thrown out unless it's confirmed by others.

In our development, the "official" rules are no more than 2 pets (dog/cat) and no bigger than 35 pounds. Right. We have 5 cats, no problem. There's someone across the way with a Weimereiner (pushing it, definitely) and one with a BIG Rottie (I mean old and overweight, poor thing, but I see her walking him multiple times a day). I've seen all shapes and sizes of dogs, so they really don't check. But it's a clause they could use if they had complaints about a big dog barking all day, or someone with multiple cats who never cleaned their litterboxes.

We also have an end unit, and LOVE it. I definitely think it adds attraction to the unit when it's time to sell. Now isn't a good time to sell anything, but definitely a good time to buy. Check out the neighborhood, negotiate a good price, check into first-time-buyer's programs (they are fewer than before, but they do still have them) including the classes they offer to assist you in the process. I would have no issues at all advising someone to buy a townhome.
post #8 of 15
I bought a house because I don't want anyone telling me how many pets I can have. The mortgage payments are cheaper than rent anyway.

Personally I wouldn't buy any property with an HOA. There's a golf course development around here that says you can't have a fence or any other external indication of pets (no visible tie-outs, dog houses, cat feeders, etc.) and you can't leave anything outside of your house (toys, etc.). And they don't even do maintenance!! At least with a townhouse/condo you get upkeep included. But no, I wouldn't even consider buying a place with an HOA.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by yam102284 View Post

Would it be worth it to buy a townhouse or to continue renting? We would be in the house for at least three years, until FH finishes school. Even after he's done school, if he can find a job in the area, we will stay. He's starting school for mortuary science, so basically have to go where he can find a job. I've done so much research and have heard different opinions on both sides, but wanted to see what everyone here thinks.
So if you did buy a home (townhouse or small house) it would not be your permanent home? If I'm understanding you correctly, you probally would not stay living in the home you are able to buy now and may end up moving in a few yrs time.

What I would do: continue to rent. By the sounds of things, rent is cheaper than your mortgage would be, and would allow you to save while FH is in school. Which would allow you to continue to be comfortable rather than maxed out, give yourself peace of mind knowing you do have some $ in case an emergency arises, and gives you less hassle when he is done school and looking for a job in case you have to move for a job. (then you wouldn't have to deal with trying to sell your home, etc.) Renting untill your FH has a job and is secure makes more sense to me... yes there are negatives, but there are also negatives on the flip side too.

re: townhomes.

I have lived in a subsidised townhome. Now I don't know what townhomes are like where you are, but here they are connected...meaning my wall was a wall in my neighbours house.

They weren't well insulated..... noise carried.

Nothing was private, because I found living there was like living in a tiny town...everyone knew everyones business. (which is NOT the same for all townhomes though)

It worked for me, as at the time I was a single parent with 2 children and on assistance.... it worked financially, and socially (kinda). Socially for the kids, as in there was a bunch of other kids around for them to play with.

Would I ever buy a townhome? NO. I value my privacy...the ability to do what I want with the home or the gardens, etc. I don't want to be told how many pets I can have, or what I can or cannot do in my home. To me, all the rules of townhomes, makes it like I don't really own my home, cuz someone else is deciding what I can or can't do with alot of things. (same goes for condos in my area)

Just my opinion though...Whatever you decide, make sure YOU and FH are happy. Don't "settle" for something, and if you do go for a townhome, definately check the rules, check how soundproof it is, etc.
post #10 of 15
I think it all depends on the particular townhouse or house location. I've lived in both and have enjoyed both for what they offered.

We've never had an issue with pets in the townhouse complex we lived in, had a pretty decent neighbourhood and wonderful neighbours.

The most important thing is to shop around and make sure you read all the fine print to know exactly what is included and what is not included.
post #11 of 15
my Fiance and I are thinking the same thing!!

in the beginning of the year we thought about buying a townhouse as a sort of step up from the tiny apartment we live in but not as big a step as buying a house (since we're still not sure where we are going to end up with his job. We know we will be in this county but its a big county with alot of towns) and we were running out of time on our lease.

So we ventured out to look...thinking that we would buy a town house and live in it for a few years until we decided to move to a house. At that time instead of selling the townhome we would rent it out...and imagine our shock when we discovered that buying a house would be cheaper!! The fees and maintance cost just as much as the taxes on a house and there wasn't much of a price difference between a small house with land and a townhouse. So after much thought we decided...to forgo moving and we are going to stay put in our tiny but comfortable apartment for a few more years until we can get a house because I want land to put a garden in.

But I do agree with what others are saying...there are pros and cons of both...a friend of mine just bought a townhouse and LOVES it and all that matters is that you and FH are happy in the end.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by yam102284 View Post
I need some advice.

We're looking at buying a small house or a townhouse. We went through our finances and figured out what we could afford for a mortgage payment and all that stuff. We could afford a decent house, but that would just about max us out with money every month, and I would rather live comfortably with money for emergencies and things, then not saving.

So we decided we might be better with a townhouse. We know there would be association fees and rules to follow, but there are some townhouses in the area that are much less than a house - like $20,000-25,000 less. There are some small houses out there for almost the same price as a townhouse, but most need work.

Would it be worth it to buy a townhouse or to continue renting? We would be in the house for at least three years, until FH finishes school. Even after he's done school, if he can find a job in the area, we will stay. He's starting school for mortuary science, so basically have to go where he can find a job. I've done so much research and have heard different opinions on both sides, but wanted to see what everyone here thinks.
We live in a three storey townhome with an elevator. We bought it at the exact start of the current recession. It has lost 20% value in the last year according to my current tax statement. We are of course upset but it would seem that we may be at the bottom or close to it in the housing market so right now you should be able to buy a very nice townhome at a opportune time and price.And pay attention: right now you can deal just like you would with a new car. DO NOT pay the asking price, don't be afraid to make low offers, right now you may just get it for much less than you might expect. HOA fees include insurance and other things you may not have thought off which offsets that extra cost. And don't think for a moment that everybody pays the same amount for HOA anymore than everybody pays the same price for a car! No, not right now anyway.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice everyone

I'm going to talk it over with FH tonight and we'll go from there. We'll most likely continue to look. and see if we see anything we like. I'm not counting out small houses either. The fact that we'd only be in the house at least three years doesn't bother me. I want to stay in the area, but it's all up to whether he finds a job here or not. Time will tell I guess.
post #14 of 15
I am not knowledgable about townhouses BUT its a really good time to lock in an interest rate (in such a CRAZY economic time of ups and downs). Its almost tempting to buy real estate in lieu of the situation. They say, not sure if true or not, its kinda like the stock market, you buy your stocks when they are down when all else are selling to get out. :-)
post #15 of 15
My first condo here was a townhouse. I was the first owner. At the time prices were high. The bottom dropped out by the end of my first year. I am in in the same situation now.

I wish that I had been able to wait to buy the one I am in now. But if I had I wouldn't have gotten such a good price for what I sold.

Maybe this is a good time since things are low. The only place to go is up.

In both my condo's pets were allowed. There is no restriction on how many or how big. The only rules state "no sheep, chickens or live stock".

The pros on a house...you can do what you want, when you want, no rules. The cons...if the roof blows off you have to fix it. You have to mow the lawn shovel the snow and so on. With a condo someone else does that.

There are rules and restrictions with a condo but so far none that I can't live with.
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