A single family home is the most common type of property you will find in Hampton Roads. Typically freestanding, it may be surrounded by a front yard and a backyard. With a single family home the owner takes the responsibility for the maintenance for the entire home and its grounds. That can mean a lot of time and money, but it also means you do not have to consult anyone about changes you would like to make to the house. Depending on the neighborhood and other factors, a house maintains its market value well.
A condominium is usually a less expensive housing option. As a condominium owner, you own your unit, but share in the ownership of the common areas. Condominium units are clustered in condo complexes, which can be any where from three units to several hundred. All of the units in one complex share common facilities and the cost of maintaining them.
Maintenance in a condominium complex is handled by the condominium association. The board oversees all of the common expenses, from cutting the grass to (in some complexes) providing cable TV service. Each condo owner pays monthly dues for building upkeep, and must discuss any exterior changes with the condominium board of directors.
One main advantage to condo living is easy. You do not have to spend your Sunday mornings mowing the lawn, and major expenses, such as new plumbing or exterior painting, are handled by the condo association. However, if you want to make a major change to your unit, you will need to get approval from the condo board.
A second advantage is that condominiums are often less expensive than houses. However, they are also slower to rise in value and the first to lose value in a bad real estate market. In addition, a condominium association has the right to refuse a buyer if you decide to sell your unit.
Shareholders in a cooperative (co-op for short) own shares in a corporation. The corporation holds title to the complex, and the shareholder has the right to live in a particular unit.
Cooperatives are more common in big cities, where there is a shortage of housing.
Because cooperative buildings are owned by a corporation, and the people who live in it are shareholders, they tend to be the most selective of all of the housing options. By living in a cooperative, you are agreeing to live by the rules of the corporation ? these cover everything from maintenance of the building to dealing with loud parties. The selectivity, however, can be an advantage.
Townhouses are individually owned, but are physically attached to the other units. They are usually two or three stories, and may have a small yard attached.
Townhouses are usually less expensive than houses, but have less privacy. Because one or more of the walls are shared, noise can seep in from the neighbors. When looking at townhouses, check the noise level by visiting the place when neighbors are home and active.