How to Determine if You're Viewing a Condominium or Townhome

How to Determine if You're Viewing a 
Condominium or Townhome  

     Townhome ... or Condo??  

     What are the differences between the two?  What do those differences mean to you now ... and in the future ... should you be an Owner or are thinking of becoming one?  

And what should you do, if you're an Agent and asked to represent a Buyer or Seller of a Condominium?

     Fact is:  You can't tell the difference between a Condo and a Townhome just by looking at them.  

     It's not style, design, or physical characteristics that determine the answer.  It's an OWNERSHIP ISSUE.

     Here are facts regarding each type of property:

  • No Lot or Land is owned by a Unit Owner
  • The land is common, typically under one shared tax parcel number (PIN).  Individual Units are then identified by additional suffix, or set of numbers; other than 0000.
  • Property MUST be declared as a Condominium in the form of  Legal Description and recorded declarations. 
  • Typically have "common" insurance on the structures.
  • Condos have a greater degree of internal control, rules, and regulations as opposed to townhomes or PUD's. 

  • Typically exist in areas known as  "Planned Unit Developments," (PUD)  and a Lot is clearly defined in a Subdivision Plat and by an individual survey.
  • Unit owner owns a Lot and the structure must be ground level minimally and can be multi-level.
  • The PIN resembles that of a detached Single-Family Residence.
  • Townhomes are a term used to describe a type of housing design (typically attached).
  • A "Townhome" unit, i.e. design and not legally described as such, CAN be located within a Condominium Complex if there is not Lot ownership for that Unit.  
     My suggestions for Realtors considering the showing of ... or are thinking of representing a Seller of a Condominium/Townhome property are the following:     

     As a Listing Agent:  Request the Seller provide copies of the following to you:

  • Tax Bill    
  • Survey (if one exists)
  • Declarations/Bi-Laws for the Homeowners Association
  • Name & Contact Info:  The Homeowners Association
  • Legal Description (from a Title Policy, Mortgage, or other Closing Documents)
     As a Buyer's Agent:  Review the Listing Agreement for the usual indicators: 
  • Property Type
  • HOA Dues
  • PIN  
  • Ask the Listing Agent to provide clarifications as listed above 
     Use your local MLS, Recorder's and Treasurer's websites, your preferred Mortgage Originator, FHA and VA  websites ... to determine type and eligibility for varying financing options BEFORE you show properties ... and most definitely BEFORE you write a contract. 

     In each and every case:  Ask the Owner of the property to provide the Legal Documents from their last Closing.  Read the Legal Description ...  
  • It if refers to Condominium in the language of the Document, it will 99.9% of the time, be a Condominium.
  • If it refers to PUD, (Planned Unit Development), Townhouse Association, etc ... you have a property NOT considered to be a CONDO, but rather a Townhouse.      
     Should you be a potential BUYER of a Condominium or Townhome property:  It's my strong suggestion that you NOT sign a Real Estate Contract until you know for sure which type of property you are transacting.  

     This is a prime example of where working with an experienced Chicago-area Mortgage Originator and Agent, with in-depth expertise and knowledge regarding Condominium and Townhome transactions and financing, is vitally important.  Do your homework and find the best and most experienced professionals you can.
     The purchase and sale of a Condominium have changed vastly in the last few years.  Current market conditions often make them extremely difficult to sell.  Guideline requirements can make them even more difficult to qualify for mortgage financing.

      However, Condominiums can still be a safe and profitable market to enter and represent ... if basic ground rules are known and followed when transacting properties. 

     Knowing How to Determine if You're Viewing a Condominium or Townhome ... and understanding the info provided above will definitely help pave that way.

Thinking of Buying or Refinancing a Condominium or Townhome property in the Chicago-area? Contact me today! I will put my 40+ years of mortgage experience and expertise to work on your behalf.
     I'm easily found at:

Gene Mundt
Mortgage Originator  -  NMLS #216987  -  IL Lic. #031.0006220  -  WI Licensed

American Portfolio Mortgage Corp.
NMLS #175656

Direct:  815.524.2280
Cell/Text:  708.921.6331
     eFax:  815.524.2281     

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Gene Mundt, Mortgage Originator, an Originator with 40+ years of mortgage experience, will offer you exemplary mortgage service and advice when seeking:  Conventional, FHA, VA, Jumbo, USDA, and Portfolio Loans in 
Chicago and the greater Chicagoland region, including:  
The Lincoln-Way Area, Will County, (New Lenox, Frankfort, Mokena, Manhattan, Joliet, Shorewood, Crest Hill, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Naperville, etc.), DuPage County, the City of Chicago, Cook County, and elsewhere within IL & WI. 

Your Referrals are Greatly Appreciated!




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