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What Is A Townhouse? [Understand Its Unique Features & Benefits]

By: Susie
Updated On: December 23, 2023

It’s time to clarify a common question in the world of real estate – what is a townhouse? In this bustling market, you must understand the types of housing options available.

Each type comes with its own pros and cons, unique features, and particular lifestyle implications.

Today, we’re focusing on the townhouse. It may not be as simple as it seems at first glance; townhouses can offer a unique blend of benefits drawn from both traditional houses and modern condo living.

Learning more about this versatile option can provide you with just the right information to make an informed choice about your next home purchase.

We’ll peel back the layers on townhouses – what they are, their history, characteristics, advantages/disadvantages, and more. Grab yourself a coffee, and let’s delve into a crash-course guide to understanding townhouses.

What Is A Townhouse?

A townhouse is a type of medium-density housing in urban areas, usually but not necessarily terraced or semi-detached. It shares walls with other units and often comes in a multi-story layout.

What Is A Townhouse?

While architecturally similar to condominiums or apartments, townhouses are often independently owned, giving the owner rights to the interior while possibly sharing ownership of common areas or the land.

Townhouses provide a balance between spacious suburban homes and compact city apartments by providing multiple floors, often having dedicated areas for living and sleeping, and sometimes even an individual outdoor space.

They are ideal for individuals or families looking for more space than an apartment without the extensive upkeep needed for a detached home.

What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

The primary difference between a condo and a townhouse lies in the type of ownership and the physical structure.

What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

A condo, or condominium, is a type of housing where the owner owns only the interior of their unit. In contrast, the exterior of the building, the land, and all common areas are owned collectively by all condo residents.

Condos can come in different forms. They might be apartment-style units within a larger building or even detached units.

On the other hand, a townhouse is an individually owned multi-floor home that shares one or more walls with adjacent properties, typically in a row or block.

When you buy a townhouse, you acquire individual ownership of both the interior and exterior of the unit, including any yard space that comes with it.

In terms of homeowners’ association fees (HOAs), condo owners usually pay higher fees as these cover maintenance for exteriors and common spaces, too.

Townhome owners typically have lower HOA fees as they are solely responsible for their property’s exterior maintenance.

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What are the Types of Townhouses?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a townhouse is let’s take a stroll down the street of diversity.

What are the Types of Townhouses?

Townhouses come in various styles and designs, each boasting a unique blend of aesthetics and functionality. Let’s explore some popular types of townhouses.

Traditional Townhouse

Traditional townhouses are often found in city environments, featuring multiple floors; each unit owns its land and the wall they’re attached to.

These homes often share common architectural features and create a harmonious aesthetic.

They offer both the convenience of city living, with restaurants, shops, and entertainment close by, mixed with the sense of community found in close-knit neighborhoods.

Row House

Row houses are characterized by their uniform architecture, where each house shares side walls with its neighbor.

Originating during the Industrial Revolution to accommodate workers, these houses lined up in neat rows (hence their name), providing efficient urban living while retaining elements of individual home ownership.


Identifiable by its signature reddish-brown stone façade, Brownstones are generally two or three stories high and were built during the 19th-century era.

Often located in historic districts within major cities, these attached buildings ooze old-world charm mingled with modern urban sophistication.

Stacked Townhouse

Stacked townhouses offer an innovative solution to high-density housing needs. In these developments, you’ll see multiple units layered vertically, typically two households stored on top of one another; each enjoys its entry access from the outside ground level.

Modern Townhouse

Modern townhouses boast sleek design elements like open floor plans and minimalist aesthetic influences characterized by clean-lined architecture.

These homes often use contemporary construction materials like steel or glass combined with energy-efficient systems aligned to newer building standards.

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Victorian Townhouse

Stepping into a Victorian-style townhouse feels like stepping back in time: detailed ornamentation, multiple stories, and steep roofs are a nod to the namesake era.

Located primarily in cities and towns, these homes often feature romantic nuances like stained glass windows or elegantly carved wooden details.

Colonial Townhouse

A colonial townhouse pays homage to the architectural style prevalent during the colonial era. It features simple symmetrical designs with a box shape and is usually two or three stories high.

These homes present a modest yet timeless charm often highlighted by classical elements like pillars or shutters.

Mediterranean Townhouse

Nestled quietly in the lap of beautiful design influences from the Mediterranean region are these stunning townhouses.

Characterized by stucco walls, terra cotta rooftops, and large windows for fresh sea-breeze access, these units exude warmth and welcome, reminding one of the sunny coastlines and vast skies.

Tudor Townhouse

Boasting architectural elements hailing from medieval England, Tudor townhouses feature pitched roofs, prominent chimneys, and large timber framing against white walls, creating an immediately recognizable style reminiscent of fairy-tale cottages.

Contemporary Townhouse

Contemporary townhouses are designed with current trends in mind; they often showcase flexible layouts offering open spaces with minimalism wrapped in modern comfort.

With sustainable materials frequently used in construction, they’re an up-to-the-minute option for urban dwellers who want an environment-friendly home that also offers comfort and functionality.

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Typical Townhouse Features

Navigating the real estate market can often seem like trying to translate an entirely different language.

Typical Townhouse Features

Let’s break it down and put a proverbial microscope on one particular category of housing right now – the townhouse.

Understanding the defining features of a townhouse will help you tally up whether this could be your future home sweet home.

  • Attached Units: A townhouse is often one of several units attached side-by-side. This design offers added security and a community feel without sacrificing personal space.
  • Multiple Floors: Unlike apartments, most townhouses feature two or more levels. This design can create a feeling of spaciousness despite a smaller overall footprint.
  • Shared Walls: One characteristic that distinguishes townhouses from detached homes is the shared walls between units – soundproofing might be a worthy investment!
  • Compact Footprint: The layout of a townhouse aims to maximize available space – typically long and narrow, they’re like architectural Tetris!
  • Part of Larger Developments: It’s common for new townhouses to exist within larger housing developments, granting neighbors access to shared amenities.
  • Limited Yard Space: Limited outdoor areas are typical in townhouses due to their compact size, providing just enough space for simple gardening or a small gathering.
  • Homeowners’ Association Management: Most townhouse communities have Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) that handle maintenance and rule-setting for common areas (remember to consider those fees in your budgeting!).
  • Exterior Maintenance Responsibilities: Roles in maintaining exteriors may vary across communities, often shared between homeowners and HOAs.
  • Close Proximity to Neighbors: Sharing walls comes hand-in-hand with having neighbors close by; this close-knit living can foster community connectivity.
  • Typically Located in Urban or Suburban Areas: You’ll typically find these architectural marvels nestled in urban neighborhoods or blossoming suburbia, creating a form of urban-rural synergy in its design.

Armed with a clearer understanding, do the features of a townhouse align with your desired lifestyle? If so, it may be worth adding this intriguing option to your house-hunting list.

Pros And Cons Of Townhouse Living

Before diving into the deep ends of townhouse living, it’s crucial to balance your lifestyle aspirations against the pros and cons associated with this particular housing choice.

While townhouses can be an incredibly alluring housing option for many potential homeowners, like any residence style, they are not without their unique set of challenges.

  • Lower maintenance than single-family homes
  • Affordable entry-level homeownership
  • Shared community amenities
  • Close to urban conveniences
  • Limited outdoor space
  • Shared walls and noise
  • Homeowners association fees

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FAQs About Townhouse

Is a townhouse the same as a condominium?

Although both types of housing may have shared walls, they are not the same. The primary difference lies in ownership: with a townhouse, you own the land beneath your unit, while in a condo, you only own the interior.

How does a townhouse appreciate value?

Much like any real estate property, townhouses can be appreciated based on factors like location, improvements made to the property, and the condition of the real estate market.

Are townhouses quieter than standalone homes?

Due to shared walls between units, noise can be audible from neighbors. However, good construction and soundproofing materials can mitigate this issue.

Do I have to pay homeowners’ association fees for my townhouse?

Yes, typically, townhouses are part of homeowners’ associations (HOAs), contributing towards the maintenance of common areas and other shared amenities—research specific HOA rules for any potential property.

Can I renovate or remodel my townhouse?

Renovations are generally permissible but governed by HOA regulations, which may limit changes that affect shared walls or external appearances. Always check with your HOA guidelines before starting any renovation project.


Naturally, the type of home you choose should cater to your lifestyle and housing needs. Townhouses can provide a smart balance between the responsibilities of a traditional house and the convenience offered by condominiums, making them an attractive choice for many homeowners.

Remember to weigh the pros and cons after understanding their unique features. Take the noise factor, convenience, affordability, space requirements, and homeowners’ association fees into consideration.

As with any significant life decision, doing your homework on the front end will help ensure that you make a choice you can be happy with for years to come.

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