With house prices in some capital cities out of reach for many buyers - particularly first home buyers - more Australians are considering alternative ways of living to achieve their homeownership dreams.
Townhouses are an affordable way to get into the housing market as they’re usually cheaper than houses but bigger than most apartments.
If you’re thinking about buying a townhouse whether it’s to downsize or to get into the property market, here’s what to consider first.
Many people who buy townhouses are either first home buyers/young professionals, downsizers/retirees, property investors, or young families who may not be able to afford a detached house in their desired area but don’t want to live in an apartment.
Townhouses are generally more affordable than most houses, which means they’re a great entry point for first home buyers who can’t afford to buy a detached house in a capital city but still want to be close to the action.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you buy a townhouse, you’re part of a strata scheme which will incur its own costs such as body corp fees.
Townhouses can be a great alternative for those who want the privacy of a house and don’t want to live in an apartment. Unlike most apartments, townhouses don’t have common spaces like shared hallways, an elevator or a lobby, so you get way more privacy.
The only thing you DO share is a wall, but if you buy an end townhouse you’ll only have to share one wall with your neighbours. Compare that with an apartment where there are neighbours on all sides, above and below you.
Many townhouses also offer a lot more space than what you can find in an apartment. Most townhouses have two levels, sometimes three, which means more room to spread out.
This makes them ideal for first home buyers who need extra bedrooms for visiting family/friends or space for a home office which can be harder to find in an apartment.
One thing to keep in mind when buying a townhouse is that you’ll be on a strata title and joining the body corporate. This means you will have to factor in body corporate fees, which are usually paid quarterly.
Fees aren’t the only thing to factor in when buying into a strata title -there’s also regular meetings and committees where important decisions are made about the property, so it’s important that owners attend these.
If you want to make renovations to the property you may also need to discuss this with the body corp and seek their approval. Joining a body corp won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Townhouses generally sit on smaller block sizes than a detached house, so it’s important to keep in mind if having a big backyard is a dealbreaker for you. This also means of course that space inside will often be smaller than what you can find in most detached homes.
Townhouses all tend to look….kind of same-same. The interior also doesn’t differ much from every other townhouse in the development, so if you want to renovate you’ll need to seek the approval of the body corporate first, particularly if the renovations are major or structural or change the appearance of the outside.
As a general rule, houses command better capital growth than apartments and townhouses, so it’s something to keep in mind. The resale value for a townhouse will obviously depend on many factors like the location, nearby amenities, the development itself (boutique townhouse developments usually have fewer townhouses and are well designed), the demand for rental accommodation in the area and the area demographic.
If you’re thinking about buying a townhouse near a major capital city, the budget will largely depend on which capital city you’re buying in.
A quick search on realestate.com.au found many townhouses 10km out from Brisbane in suburbs like Kedron, Chermside and Nundah are around the mid $400k mark and upwards, while the closer to the city you go, the more expensive things get.
In Sydney, things are a lot more dire with townhouses 30km out priced at $750k and in Melbourne, inner-city townhouses were priced above $650k.
Houses are detached where the buyer is purchasing on an individual title (not belonging to strata) whereas townhouses are usually attached and on a shared title. Find out more about houses vs townhouses vs apartments.
In Australia, townhouses are generally considered attached because they usually share a common wall/s. However, there are some townhouses that are freestanding which could be considered detached.
People who live in townhouses usually share a common wall with their neighbours and some common spaces like a pool or driveway. Townhouses are often easier to maintain than a house, but offer more space and privacy than an apartment.
If you’re ready to buy a townhouse, find out if you qualify for a home loan with loans.com.au.