Know Your Property Management: Condo vs Townhome

It seems that we’re making a bit of a theme here on this blog lately around answering questions that everybody seems to have, but that nobody wants to admit they don’t know about. For example, our last blog focused on sussing out the different responsibilities and expectations between condo boards and condo management companies. Likewise, we’re taking today to answer a similar question:

What sorts of differences can you expect when bringing on a management company for your condo building as compared to your townhouse?

The Complexities of Complex Management

Before we talk about property management comparisons between condos and townhomes, you do know the difference between a condo and a townhome, right? For sure, that’s right, of course you do. Buuuuuuuuuuuut, just in case you need a bit of brushing up on the subject, we’ll lay it out for you quickly here.

Generally speaking, townhouses are single-family homes that share walls with other independently-owned units. Residents own the roof, interior and exterior walls, and any surrounding yard space or property, and pay a regular maintenance fee as is determined by the homeowner’s association.

Condos, on the other hand, usually consist of a building or community of buildings that are divided into separate, wall-sharing units each owned by individual residents. Residents own the interior of the units, but they don’t own the property that each unit is built upon. The exterior walls, yard spaces, and common areas are all maintained and insured by the condo corporation, which is made possible by the condo fees paid monthly by each unit.

When it comes to the management of these two types of properties, condos are often much more difficult a beast for property management companies to take on. The reason being? There’s just so much more to look after – and, as a result, so much more for people to complain about! With condos, a management company has to look after so much more than just the garbage disposal, snow removal, and landscaping that’s involved with townhomes. A condo property management company has to take these factors into consideration, as well as maintenance of all common spaces, more-complicated utility considerations, exterior factors such as roofing and windows, and more. As such, there’s one thing you should really expect more of when it comes to condo management: transparent communication.

Talk the Talk

There really is a lot more work needed to properly manage condominium complex than a lane of townhomes – and as such, it’s that much more crucial that your condo management company’s communication game is 100% on-point. This can be realized in a number of different ways, including:

  • Policy creation and communication. In order to avoid confusing policies, your condo management company can offer your board the following advice: take a look at the bylaws, build policies off of these bylaws, and then communicate these policies in a short, easy-to-read document, so that people know what’s expected of them.
  • Simple bylaws. Bylaws are often written or created with input from legal counsel. The only problem is that most people aren’t lawyers – so, it’s important to make bylaws that can be understood by people who didn’t spend seven years at Yale earning a law degree.
  • One-stop-shop for communication. We’ve all played the game of Telephone growing up – and that’s precisely why having multiple outlets for communication can be a problem. Instead, centralize your messages and missives in one easy-to-access space (we suggest something like an online portal), and watch as both townhome communities and condo complexes benefit from more-streamlined, less-confusing communication practices.

Whether you own a townhome or a condo, these steps will help open up the lines of communication and will go a long way towards making management simpler and more effective, regardless of what sort of home you happen to call your own.


Contributions and Expenses

One of the last big differences between townhouses and condos comes in the form of contributions and expenses – and, as with all comparisons between these two types of homes, the answer isn’t quite as easy as one simply being better than the other.

Generally speaking, townhomes are a bit cheaper when it comes to regular maintenance and operational costs in the sense that there are fewer ongoing issues they have to deal with. Because of the way ownership works for a townhouse, homeowner associations and management companies simply have less problems and concerns to worry about. However, although there are less issues with townhomes, those issues that due occasionally pop up are often much more costly than your typical condo-related issue, just because townhome issues often revolve around big-ticket issues (think building envelope-type problems), simply because almost everything else is handled by individual owners.

Condos, on the other hand, generally produce issues far more frequently that demand the attention of a condo management company, but that’s because there’s so much more for management companies to concern themselves with. Common space maintenance, landscaping concerns, and even exterior aesthetics are all things that condo management companies need to worry about, resulting in issues that are greater in number, but overall less costly than those that townhouse management requires dealing with.

While these two types of real estate can seem similar on the surface, there really is quite a bit distinct between them. If you’re struggling to find management that shoots straight for either of these types of properties, get a hold of us at Catalyst Condo Management Ltd today!