One of the biggest advantages you have when looking for a new condo is the variety of styles available. While there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find exactly what you want, narrowing down your choices means you need to ask yourself (and maybe a few professionals) a few questions to determine exactly what you want and what your options are.
If you’re looking into buying a townhome specifically, there are some things to note that you may not consider when looking at any other home style. To help guide you through the process, we’ve created a list of questions you should be asking if you’re interested in townhome living.
1. What are your needs?
One of the first questions you’ll need to ask yourself is what features are most important to you. For example, if you travel often or need additional storage space, an attached garage might be a top priority. On the other hand, if you’re a growing family looking for a little extra space, you may prefer a model that includes the option for a developed basement. Or, if you’re a first-time home buyer, a model featuring two master bedrooms might be ideal if you plan to have a roommate.
2. Where should you buy?
Once you have a handle on what you need in a townhome, you’ll want to consider where. A good developer will offer affordable townhomes in a variety of new Calgary communities, but you’ll need to decide which neighbourhood will work best for you. Do you work downtown? You’ll want a neighbourhood offering an easy commuteor convenient transit options. Do you need to be close to the airport? A townhome in northeast or northwest Calgary would be well situated. Conversely, choosing a home in the city’s southwest means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors if you lead an active lifestyle.
3. Is there a homeowners association and what do they do?
When you purchase a townhome, you may be then required to join a homeowners association (HOA), which is similar to a condo board. Being a part of this association means paying fees, which are then used to cover the expenses of upkeep to common areas and amenities. You’ll want to find out the cost of these fees and exactly what they cover.
In addition to this, HOAs are responsible for setting and maintaining rules about what is permitted within the community. It’s a good idea to find out what these restrictions are before you purchase a townhome. You don’t want to purchase, only to be disappointed to learn you can’t paint your door lime green. On the other hand, it might be nice to know you won’t have to worry about your neighbours doing so first!
4. What are the insurance policies?
Insuring a townhome works a little differently than insuring a detached home. Since there will likely be common areas, most townhome complexes have a “master” insurance policy, covered by the townhome association. This insurance would cover common areas, which you have shared ownership over.
However, when it comes to insuring the unit you own and the property it’s built on, it’s most likely your responsibility. Ask the townhome association what they insure and what you need to insure yourself.
5. Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?
You’ll want to know who to turn to if and when something needs maintenance. Find out what the townhome association will maintain and repair and what you’re expected to take care of on your own.
6. What amenities are available in the community?
This is something you’ll want to know not only to determine if it’s the right community for you, but also to gain a better understanding of some of the considerations above. Will your HOA fees cover additional amenity expenses that may arise? Are these amenities insured and maintained by the association?
7. What type of natural features does the community offer?
This question is one of preference; if you love to get outside, ask about access to parks, trails and other features. You should also ask about yard sizes and whether or not the townhome association will take care of landscaping and lawn maintenance. As with the community amenities, you’ll want to know what your responsibilities are and what is taken care of by the HOA.
8. What are the parking accommodations?
Another exterior feature to consider is the parking accommodations. Some townhome complexes may have parking garages, rear parking pads, front stalls, or require you to park along the street. There could potentially be fees associated with external parking lots too, so it’s important to ask beforehand. And don’t forget that you’ll likely have guests so be sure to ask about visitor parking as well.
9. What is the privacy like?
Finally, since townhome living does mean living a little closer to your neighbours, you’ll probably want to know about privacy. While new townhome developments are known to maximize privacy with private patios, balconies, yard spaces and more, you should consider asking the current residents what their experiences have been and whether they consider it to be a quiet or a more lively community. This can also be a great way to get to know the people who could be your future neighbours (or potential friends!).
There are plenty of benefits of townhome living, from low-maintenance living to great amenities just steps away from your veranda. Taking the time to ask the important questions before you purchase will help you know exactly what to expect, giving you more time to just sit back and enjoy your new home once you’ve moved in!
Originally published March 17, 2017, updated December 15, 2017