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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting to *think* about buying a real estate as principal residence in Toronto - I know I've seen threads recently about how ridiculous are real estate prices in TO, but let's keep those arguments in those threads.

What I have in mind right now is either a condo vs condo townhouse. I am wondering if you guys can give some inputs / opinions / advice on:

What are the differences between condo vs condo townhouses other than the obvious like the fact that you have more privacy in townhouses. Benefits / drawbacks of them? And other things that you guys have in mind when deciding between the 2 choices.

Thanks in advance!
 

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What are the differences between condo vs condo townhouses other than the obvious like the fact that you have more privacy in townhouses. Benefits / drawbacks of them? And other things that you guys have in mind when deciding between the 2 choices.

First off please read the thread about why condo's suck as investments and the reasons why.

Second I actually like condo townhouses vs freehold townhouses or attached houses of any kind.:D The reason why is uniformity of appearance. The problem with the freehold and attached houses is that every owner has the option of renovating their home as they like. Problem is that after 20 years every house has a different roof color and different door styles and to my eye it looks like crap. God forbid that you buy the semi next to the guy who painted his house bright pink and has a huge statue of the Virgin Mary in his front yard. (this is a house I have seen)

Condo townhouses have rules like you must have XX model of light by your front door and they are all the same and that's that. If they don't make said model anymore they change them all to another approved model and again all the houses have a uniform appearance.

Also you get economies of scale, for instance it cost less to have the same landscaper come out and mow 40 lawns than it does to have 40 different landscapers come out at 40 different times to mow. Or it should anyways.

One advantage to condominiums is that you generally have a lot of amenities. Pools, work out rooms etc. If you use them that is a real bonus. If you don't use them then it really sucks because you pay for them. So really examine if you are going to use them or if you just want them in case because most people in fact do not use them. Also it may be cheaper and more enjoyable to go to the Y.

Ok condo townhouses have rules and that's a good thing except when you decide to plant pink flowers instead of the approved red or you get a notice asking you to take off your door wreath. In every complex there seems to be a retired crone who's sole purpose in life is to ensure that you follow the rules. So that can be very irritating.

In any case if you want the real dirt on the place ditch your real estate agent go back and ask around what it's like to live there. People will tell you if it's a dive or a nice place to live. Stick to smaller complexes and no extra amenities to reduce maintenance fees.
 

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I agree with Jon202 that a lot of it is lifestyle. But townhouses have a lower risk of huge condo fee increases to repair/renovate major building systems. Maintaining and repairing a high rise building is more complex and expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
True, at the end of the day it would be my personal decision on which one is best - but I still want to have all the advice and opinions from others to see other point of view before spending that much money in just a few signatures.

I feel like townhouse would be more "homie", but location wise, it's easier to find a condo with better location (access to public transport, etc), so it's always a tradeoff, but if other forum members can point out from their experiences, that would be great.

One question that could help probably: What did you decide, why, and what would you have done differently?
 

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It depends on your personality, how much you want to control your neighbours and how much you can stand others controlling you, but I would choose a "freehold" townhouse over a "condo" townhouse. From what I understand the difference is that with freehold you own and are resposible for your townhome (both interior and exterior) and lot. There is usually no council. Its up to you when to replace your door, roof, curtains, etc. With condo ownership, you basically only own the interior of your unit. Everything outside your unit is joint ownership and joint responsiblity (and sometimes they even can even influence interior decisions by dictating such things as curtain colour).
 

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In general, condo townhouse complexes look better than freehold townhouse complexes because of the uniformity. In freehold townhouse complexes, people can do anything they want - and the vast majority of people have very bad taste (or at least, taste that is different from each other).

I've seen a guy drill holes into his shared driveway to build a tent to cover his car from rain and snow. I'm sure his neighbour wasn't thrilled to see that.

There are also people who are terrible with colour and end up having the garage door, window frames and front door all of a different colour.

Another neighbour decided to drill holes into their shared front lawn in order to put in potted plants. When the plants died she dug them out and left the holes. But, hey, that's freehold for you.

I would take a condo townhouse over a freehold townhouse.
 

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It largely depends on the quality of townhome. I know in Vancouver "condo" seems to be the norm and in Ottawa, freehold is. There are some very nice freehold townhomes in Ottawa, with much better styling than the run-of-the-mill stucco that they seem to use in Vancouver.

But its a personal choice -- no right or wrong answer. For me, personally, it drives me crazy to have to get permission to plant a few ornamental plants in the front. For others, it might drive them crazy that I'm planting them. The trouble arises when freehold oriented people move into condo townhomes or condo oriented people move into freehold ones.
 

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All condo corps in Ontario require reserve fund studies, reviewed every 3 years redone every 6 to ensure proper funding for a 25 year period. Averaged out over several hundred units, obviously we're dealing with economies of scale.
Yes I know, and the reason they do, and the reason why the reserve levels have moved up several times, and is because of a number of widely publicized economic disasters in high-rise condos. Those reserves have to be built up, and replenished, out of condo fees. Builders (or at least some of them) have a reputation for "underdesigning" everything they can in a condo, because they can walk away from it after a year. The building code does not deal with "durability" and "life-cycle" cost issues. There are also unavoidable building management costs inherent in the nature of apartment buildings. They have elevators; they have expensive central heating & A/C systems; they have sprinkler, standpipe, and fire alarm systems; they have extensive U/G parking garages subject to salt corrosion. When a piece of concrete cladding falls off an apartment building, it's a sign you need a multi-million dollar contract to replace all the cladding, because the bolts on all the others are probably rusting out too. Whereas if a piece of siding comes off a townhouse it's a couple hours' repair.
 

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Curious Reader,

I wasn't thinking in terms of condo vs town home when I was buying because I was looking for a house and I don't live in Toronto. My Mom did have a town home and what I liked about it vs an apartment was that you could have a place to sit outside with grass. Also, if I lived in Toronto the biggest concern for me would be public transportation. I would want to be near a subway station! So, for me if the town homes were too far away from the subway I would be sure to have a car. If I worked downtown I would want to live reasonably close to downtown. Not sure if that answers your question, but that is what I would do personally.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am wondering what the maintenance fee in condo townhouse is paying for? ... seems to me the maintenance fee between condo tower vs condo townhouse is somewhat comparable. With condo tower, we get common amenities like gym, pool, etc ... but you dont get those kind of stuff with condo townhouse but you still paying quite a bit of maintenance fee?
 

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I am wondering what the maintenance fee in condo townhouse is paying for? ... seems to me the maintenance fee between condo tower vs condo townhouse is somewhat comparable. With condo tower, we get common amenities like gym, pool, etc ... but you dont get those kind of stuff with condo townhouse but you still paying quite a bit of maintenance fee?

Get a breakdown from the real estate agent. Often townhome fees cover building insurance (not contents), routine maintenance, management fees and a contingency fund. The total costs (mortgage, maintenance fees, property taxes, misc. expenses) are very important. Make sure that it makes sense over renting or buying alternate accommodation.
 

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To compare a townhouse vs a condo townhouse...can be basically simplified, barring having your HWT go or anything like that...is it worth a $90 a month fee to get your grass cut and have to shovel your own driveway.

A condo townhouse and condo still pay the same fees....better to use that $ to pay towards your mortgage.
 

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It really depends on the condominium declaration what is included in the fees some condo townhouses have the heat included. All the common elements it depends what they have some have pools and gyms etc. Plus they include all those exterior elements that will eventually have to be replaced such as roofs, doors, windows, garage doors, storm doors, patio doors, siding and more.

You really need to know what is in the declaration unfortunately it is a sizable document written in legalese.

So it very difficult to say if it is a good deal or not. Basically i am finding another reason not to like them now. TOO COMPLEX for most people. It's like buying CDO's :eek:
 

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It largely depends on the quality of townhome. I know in Vancouver "condo" seems to be the norm and in Ottawa, freehold is. There are some very nice freehold townhomes in Ottawa, with much better styling than the run-of-the-mill stucco that they seem to use in Vancouver.

But its a personal choice -- no right or wrong answer. For me, personally, it drives me crazy to have to get permission to plant a few ornamental plants in the front. For others, it might drive them crazy that I'm planting them. The trouble arises when freehold oriented people move into condo townhomes or condo oriented people move into freehold ones.
I have to agree with a lot of these posts. I own a freehold townhouse largely because I would just not be able to deal with a condo board or a set of rules. I do see many of the problems some people have mentioned. Uniformity does go out the window sometimes. My neighbour built a deck beside his front porch. It looks ridiculous.

But, to be honest, I just don't care. I mean our yards are so tiny, that I can see why he did it - it just gives him added storage space. Also, I'm a terrible landscaper, so many people might hate to have me as a neighbour.

People haven't it taken it too far though, all of our roofs are the same colour, you just see differences in yards and door colour - hardly a big deal (to me at least).

So if you are laid back and can deal with other people's tastes and just can't stand the thought of being told what to do - then freehold is for you. If you can't stand the thought of not having some sort of uniformity, then a condo townhome would be the way to go.
 

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So if you are laid back and can deal with other people's tastes and just can't stand the thought of being told what to do - then freehold is for you. If you can't stand the thought of not having some sort of uniformity, then a condo townhome would be the way to go.
That's a good way to look at it!
 
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