Among the options for home buyers, especially those looking to downsize, are condominiums and townhouses. While similar, condos and townhouses do have their differences. Learning what sets these residences apart can help people find the right fit.

Condominiums

Condos are private residences owned by an individual or family in a private building. Condos are similar to apartments. However, instead of paying rent, condo dwellers own the space. Condos share common areas, such as pools, recreation rooms, gyms and outdoor spaces.

A condo owner shares ownership of the land, the roof, the staircases and the exterior of the condominium complexes. The only thing the condo owner may own outright is his or her individual living space.

People may be attracted to condos because there is very little maintenance involved. Residents typically pay condominium fees to a condo board to manage and cover maintenance for shared areas.

Because of the multi-person ownership, condos place strict restrictions on what can and can’t be done to the property.

Townhouses

Townhouses are usually multi-level attached properties. Townhouses may fall within a row of other homes or be an end unit where only one side is attached.

Many people are drawn to townhouses because of their various levels and architectural styles. Some also feel that townhouses provide more of a traditional home feel than condominiums. Townhouses may come with a small parcel of land, a driveway or a private garage.

Because townhouse communities do not handle as much maintenance, exterior repair and roof maintenance may be the responsibility of the townhouse owner.

Read the bylaws of the community into which you are buying. Bylaws should list responsibilities of the owner versus the homeowner’s association or condo board.