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So what is the difference between an apartment, a condo, and a townhouse?

This has been my definition:

Apartment: Can be owned or rented, shares a common entrance with other tenants.

Condo: Can be owned or rented, has a private entrance usually with a sidewalk leading to it, consists of 1 floor in a mutltiple-floor unit, ie: upstairs or downstairs units.

Townhouse: Can be owned or rented, has a private entrance usually with a sidewalk leading to it, typically consists of multiple floors in a multi-floor unit, ie: both upstairs and downstars are one unit.

... except that I am surprised when I do research. I find things like this:



Apartment: a room or set of rooms fitted especially with housekeeping facilities and usually leased as a dwelling

Condo: individual ownership of a unit in a multiunit structure (as an apartment building) or on land owned in common (as a town house complex)

Townhouse: a usually single-family house of two or sometimes three stories that is usually connected to a similar house by a common sidewall

.. elsehwere I find this:

"Another major difference between an apartment building and a condominium complex is that condominium associations have covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), which govern everything from the elections of HOA officers to the allocation of parking spaces. Unlike the rules of an apartment building, CC&Rs are legally enforceable documents that apply to tenants as well as resident owners. "Tenants must abide by the CC&Rs and all the other rules and regulations, but the owner of the condominium is the ultimate responsible party. If the owners don't protect themselves, the tenant can cause problems and the owner ends up receiving notices from the association about rule violations," says Bupp. HOAs can—and do—impose fines if the CC&Rs or other rules are disobeyed. And those fines can be levied even if a tenant was responsible for the violation."

Yet I've seen CC&R's for apartment and townhouse owners. Hell, I had CC&R's for both the condo AND the townhouse that I used to own.

Elsewhere I've seen described that you can only RENT an apartment but that you can BUY a condo. But I grew up in a condo that you couldn't buy as part of a huge condo development, and I know of lots of APARTMENTS for SALE in NYC.

Still further, I found one source that actually calls them all the same thing, that is.. .. check out our luxurious condo apartments. ???

Then there is this:

"Apartment buildings are converted to condos by means of a condominium declaration (called a "condo dec"), which also divvies up the percentage of ownership, defines which areas are commonly held by all owners, and states the building rules.

One of the most important things to remember about a condo, is that you don't actually own the unit you live in. You own the air inside the walls, ceiling and floor of the unit, and may also own the plumbing within your unit and perhaps a parking space. With your neighbors, you also jointly own the common elements of the property, which may include the roof, plumbing, lobby, laundry room, garden area or the garage."

... except that all condos I know of don't have a lobby or any common room. APARTMENTS DO!

So again I say.. WTF?

Opinions? Comments?

- Keman


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 28th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC)
Generally, a condo is an apartment you bought. Usually only the paint inward.
Townhouse is what I have. Though, there's always exceptions. Tommy's mom's new place, looks like a townhouse, but legally it's a condo.

If you rent a condo from someone, is it now an appartment?
Nov. 28th, 2005 07:54 pm (UTC)
As I've noted before, the chief distinction that I've seen between an apartment and a condo is in ownership: An apartment is a rented unit within a building owned by a single entity (management company). A condo is an apartment with the distinction that each unit is under individual ownership, even if one person/company owns multiple units.

And no, if you rent a condo from someone it's still a condo. :}
Nov. 28th, 2005 08:08 pm (UTC)
The diffrent between Condo, and Townhouse, is simply ownership. A townhouse, you own the inside, the outside, the roof, and even that tiny little patch of grass, however, a condo, you only own the inside of the building. as for an apartment, i've no f-ing clue =)

Nov. 29th, 2005 04:35 am (UTC)
Also at stake is the muddied use of the terms.

You can "buy" an "Apartment" -- but it's not really an apartment per se. Some people just like using the word because it conjures up single-level shared wall housing.

Condos generally are individual-owned but "association" maintained, where Apartments are virtually always owned/operated by a business for the purpose of renting them out.

Townhouses can mean either an actual townhouse, which is a house, configured to have little-to-no lawn, and usually vertical (garage below living quarters below bedrooms) but you own it just like a house. However, some apartments (and indeed condos) are the same type of layout (bedrooms over living area), and thus feel justified to call themselves townhouse apartments or townhouse condos... which are then called "townhouses" because it's easier to say one word than two when describing where you live. :)

I've had experience with almost all of those varieties, though my house was "Real" (1/3 acre = fun to mow), and I haven't owned a condo, though I've considered it... property is sliding right down the crapper around here due to things like GM laying of 30,000 employees.
Nov. 28th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC)
Seems to be more about how nice it is around here. You can rent a shithole and its called an apartment. Rent a nice place and its called a condo. Both can also be bought. Townhouses are rare here but they few there are are zero lot line houses, and are bought and sold as normal homes, with no yard.
Nov. 28th, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC)
I think it is also a regional thing... around the midwest the following holds true

Apt: Flat fee rental, you own nothing, and need to return it to original state when you leave. shared walls, usually one level, or a "loft".

Town house: Multi-level apt. usually with a basement, more shared walls.

Condo: something you can own, and possibly rent from someone who owns it, requires a morgage to own (unless your rich), and usually has condo fee's associated with them. More shared walls. But you may change the inside as you see fit, given you do not compromise building codes.
Nov. 29th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)
Anything that fits to charge you more, make it sound fancier or snotie :)

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Galen Wolffit

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