The Home Buyer's Korner

Information presented should be used for educational purposes only.

January 26th, 2017

Condominium or Town Home 


  1. No lot or land is owned by a unit owner;
  2. The land is common, typically under one shared tax parcel identification number or PIN.  Individual Units are then identified by additional suffix or set of numbers normally identifying a unit, i.e. Build Three, Unit 5A;
  3. Property MUST be declared as a Condominium in the form of  legal description and recorded declarations called Covenant, Conditions & Restrictions or CC&R’s; 
  4. Typically have “common” insurance on the structures;
  5. Condos have a greater degree of by the all the unit owners through both the CC&R’s and Bylaws as opposed to town homes or otherwise commonly called a Planned Unit Development or PUD. 

Town Homes 

  1. Typically exist in areas known as “Planned Unit Developments,” (PUD) and a lot is clearly defined in a subdivision plat and by an individual survey.
  2. Unit owner owns the lot the structure is built on and the structure must be at a minimum at ground level, but can have multi-levels.
  3. The PIN resembles that of a detached Single-Family Residence, i.e. lot 23 of block 12 in Sunnyvale Terrace subdivision.
  4. Townhomes are a term used to describe a type of housing design (typically attached).
  5. A “Townhome” unit i.e. design and not legally described as such, CAN be located within a Condominium Complex if there is a lot ownership for that unit.

Tips for real estate agents:  If you are considering showing or thinking of representing a seller of a condominium or town home review the following:      

     As a Listing Agent:

Request the Seller provide copies of the following to you:

  1. Tax Bill    
  2. Survey (if one exists)
  3. Covenant, Conditions & Restrictions and By-Laws for the Home Owners Association
  4. Name & Contact Info for the Home Owners Association or HOA, Property Management Company and Board Members of the HOA;
  5. Legal Description (from a Title Policy, Mortgage, or other Closing Documents).

      As a Buyer’s Agent:

  Review the Listing Agreement for the usual indicators: 

  1. Property Type
  2. HOA Dues
  3. PIN  
  4. Ask the Listing Agent to provide clarifications as listed above

Use your local MLS, Recorder’s and Treasurer’s websites, your preferred mortgage lender to determine the type and eligible financing options BEFORE you show these types of properties and most definitely BEFORE you write a contract. 

In each and every caseask the owner of the property to provide the Covenant, Conditions & Restrictions, and Bylaws or other documents that provide a legal description.  

  1. If it refers to a condominium in the language of the documents it’s 99.9 percent of the time just what it says and will require additional understanding for terms of ownership and financing.
  2. If it refers to PUD, (Planned Unit Development), Townhouse Association, etc. you have a property NOT considered to be a condominium, but rather a townhouse. 

Documents  a real estate agent may find useful when marketing a condominium or town home:

HOA Questionnaire

CC&R and Bylaws Condo Review Worksheet

Should you be a potential BUYER of a Condominium or Town Home property: 

It’s my strong suggestion that you NOT sign a Real Estate Contract until you know for sure which type of property you are transacting.  Working with an experienced real estate agent and  mortgage lender with an in-depth knowledge regarding condominium and town home transactions and financing, is vitally important.  Do your homework and find the best and most experienced professionals you can. The purchase or sale of a condominium has changed greatly in the last few years and lender requirements create unique financing requirement and in some cases limitations you won’t find with a single family or town home. A condominium can still be a safe and profitable property to invest in and market if basic ground rules are known and followed when working with these properties.  Knowing how to determine if you are viewing a condominium or town home and understanding the information provided above will definitely help pave that way.


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