Freehold vs Condo Townhouse

By Michelle Moon

Determining the type of home you are looking for often comes down to your wants/needs, preferred location and budget!

Townhouses may be a great fit for those looking for the best of both works as units tend to be priced in the mid-range, offer the benefits of low-rise living and larger square footage than a condo apartment unit, and may even come with some of the same convenient amenities such as on-site pools and gyms.

There are a few types of townhouses available and we will dive into which may be the better fit for you.

Types of Townhouses

Townhouses can be broken down into two main types: a condominium ownership and a freehold. Depending on your household’s lifestyle and preferences, one type of townhouse may appeal to you more than the other.

A condo townhouse means that you own everything inside of the unit’s structure, while the exterior is owned and maintained by a condo corporation. This can include common areas on the property, parking spaces, and the yard.

A freehold townhouse, on the other hand, gives you the exclusive ownership to the land that your townhouse sits on, both interior and exterior.

Pros and Cons of Condo Townhouses

Lower price: As shown in the Toronto Real Estate Board’s December report, condo townhouses sold for an average price of $595,129 and freehold townhouses had an average price of $713,815 in 2019

Less maintenance: The cost of required maintenance to the outside of the unit will be covered by your monthly condo fee. This includes things such as snow removal, lawn care, and the upkeep of common areas.

Amenities: Monthly maintenance fees are partially used towards the preservation of shared amenities usually including pools, gyms, entertainment rooms, parks, and sports courts.

Special assessments: As outlined by the Condominium Authority of Ontario, “special assessments can be charged on top of regular monthly fees … without getting permission from condo owners.” Special assessments may be used due to unforeseen expenses, under-budgeting, or losing a lawsuit.

Less autonomy: The exterior of your unit is governed by a condo association and will likely have set rules on what you can and can’t do to your home.

Higher maintenance fees: As previously mentioned, condo townhouses require you to pay a monthly maintenance fee to care for the amenities outside of your unit.

Pros and Cons of Freehold Townhouses

More autonomy: Owning a freehold townhouse gives you the freedom to change both the interior and exterior of your home as you please.

No condo fees: This can help you save a couple hundred dollars every month to go towards something else.

Greater property appreciation: There tends to be higher buyer demand for freehold units, and they appreciate greater value at a faster pace.

Additional responsibility: You will be responsible for things that a condo maintenance fee usually covers, for example, the upkeep of your lawn, snow removal, and exterior repairs.

More expensive: As they are in greater demand than condo townhouses, prices for freeholds are in turn higher as well.

No control over neighbours:You and your neighbour have complete freedom to change both the interiors and exteriors of your homes, provided they coincide with zoning by-laws. With this said, you can’t really do anything if your neighbours choose to do something outrageous with their home, whereas such actions would be enforced upon by a condo board.