My name is Judy and I am a recent resident of College Station. I lost my husband in the fall of 2015 and moved here to be with my
daughter and her family at the end of last year. I decided to rent until I had a feel for the area and knew for sure that this would be my new home. I’ve made lots of wonderful friends here through volunteering, bible study, and my book club and I’ve come to the decision that I am ready to make this my new home! I have started looking for a new home online and am a little thrown off by some of the terminology. Can you please explain the difference between a townhome, condo, and patio home? I’ve also seen the term “zero lot line” used in on some homes listed for sale. I want something that is low maintenance, but during my time as an apartment resident, I’ve discovered that I am not sure that I want an adjoining neighbor. Any clarity that you can provide or advice that you can give is much appreciated!
Welcome to the Bryan/College Station area! I’m thrilled to hear that you have found both people and activities that you really enjoy in the short time that you have been here! Thank you for your question. This is a question that we hear quite often. Here are the common definitions of the types of residences that you mentioned in your letter:
Townhome: Townhomes generally share at least one wall with an adjoining unit. Owners own their unit’s interior and exterior, including the roof, lawn, driveway and land beneath the dwelling, but not the common areas in the development. Townhome owners usually pay a monthly maintenance fee that covers the common areas and other amenities provided by the development. All interior and exterior maintenance is the responsibility of the townhome owner.
Condominiums: Condos generally share at least one vertical wall with an adjoining unit and may also have an upstairs or downstairs neighbor. Condo owners only own the interior of their unit. The building exterior, lawn, and common areas, are all owned by the Homeowner Association. The Homeowner Association is responsible for all exterior maintenance and exterior insurance on the units. For this reason, monthly dues may be higher than the dues that an owner will pay in a townhome community. However, the owner’s monthly insurance may be slightly lower as they are paying only to insure the interior of the property. If a large update or repair needs to be done to the property and the monthly dues that have been collected do not cover the amount needed for the update or repair (ex. Roof or siding repair or replacement), the homeowners may vote to levy a special assessment to the condo owners to cover the cost of the work. For this reason, it can be difficult to obtain financing for condo communities with a large number of investor owners, as they may be able to “block vote” to require individual owners to contribute to improving the community.
Patio Homes: Most agree that the term “Patio Home” is more generic than the strict definitions for both condominiums and townhomes. It is often used interchangeably with the other terms about which you inquired. The true definition of a patio home is a single-family home that is generally on a smaller lot. While patio homes do not share a common wall with another home, they may be a zero lot line property where one wall of their home forms (is flush to the edge of) part of their neighbor’s backyard. In other words, the patio home is built on one side of the property line and the neighbor’s side yard comes all the way up to the side of your home.
Additionally, patio home communities often have Homeowner Associations that require monthly dues for both maintenance of common areas and some or all of the flowerbed and lawn maintenance for the patio homes in the HOA. Patio Home owners own the home and entire lot on which the home rests.
Judy, I hope this information helps you on your home search! Although these terms can be confusing when searching alone, I think you will find that our community is blessed to have many wonderful and well-qualified real estate professionals that may assist you in your
search and help you find the perfect home to fit your needs!