How to buy a townhouse

You’ve bought a new house or taken a job out of town and you now need to get your current townhouse ready to rent. Operating as a landlord means stepping back and looking at the townhouse as a potential renter. You need to think back to the time you purchased the house and focus on what made you select the townhouse as your home. These are undoubtedly the same features that will attract potential renters.

Step 1

Read your townhouse association regulations to determine if the group allows you to rent out your unit, and give your city hall a call to make sure your area doesn’t have any restrictions on renting your townhouse.

Step 2

Calculate the rent amount you’ll need to ask to make the townhouse rental break even. This figuring must include any mortgage due each month, amounts paid to property tax and dues owed to the townhouse association. Insurance on the structure, if not paid by the association, also must factor into the prospective rent amount. Add an amount for repair and maintenance based on the age of your townhouse to the rental figure. The older the unit, the greater the chance you’ll need to make some repairs during the rental period.

Step 3

Research local and state rental codes to determine any changes required to turn your townhouse into a rental unit. Some possible changes might include installing screen guards on second floor windows to prevent little ones from pushing out a screen during summer months and falling out of the open window.

Step 4

Make a list of the repairs and changes necessary to make your townhouse attractive to renters. Think in terms of putting your home on the market for sale. Renters look for the same things as new buyers. Fresh paint brightens up the walls and makes the townhouse look attractive to buyers for a nominal investment, but the quickest way to get rental signatures is to make your place sparkling clean. Prepare the entrance of the townhouse for maximum impact. Plan to add bedded plants or potted plants to stage the entrance area to give immediate appeal to potential renters.

Step 5

Take photos of your townhouse to show the features. Snap images of the townhouse kitchen, baths and any patios. Don’t forget the complex amenities, including any gyms, swimming pools and hot tubs.

Step 6

Make notes for an advertisement for your townhouse and research potential places to post your rental information.

Step 7

Make a list of any window coverings and your personal furnishings that will stay for the renters.

Step 8

Research local real estate agents with special rental certifications and professional property management organizations to make the decision to do the marketing and leasing yourself or hire outside professionals to do the work to rent your townhouse.

More Articles

Get Your House Ready to Rent →

Write a Contract for Renting a Flat →

Write a Letter Requesting Lease Negotiations →

  • MSN Real Estate: How to Rent Out Your House
  • MSN Real Estate: What to Know If You Rent Out Your House
  • Realtor.com: The Business of Renting Your Home
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Getting Your House Ready to Sell
  • New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Division of Codes and Standards: Habitability Bulletin
  • Military.com: Getting Your Home ready to Rent Out
  • Realtor.com: Get the House Ready
  • The Landlord Protection Agency: Preparing Your House for Tenants — Getting Your House Rent Ready!
  • SmartMoney.com: Should You Rent Out Your House or Sell It?
  • MSN Real Estate: Many Towns Tightening ‘No Rental’ Rules
  • Plan the changes with renters in mind. Avoid making costly changes incorporating features easily damaged by renters, including selecting light-colored replacement carpeting for the unit. Think in terms of a landlord and not a homeowner.
  • Make sure to notify your insurance company of the shift to a rental property. Shop townhouse insurance rates to determine if your policy continues to be the best rate for comprehensive coverage for a rental unit.

Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.

How to buy a townhouse

Thinking of moving to a townhouse? For first-time home buyers and empty nesters, alike, townhouse living provides the perfect alternative to owning a single-family home.

Townhomes, known for their unique architectural style, consist of an attached home with shared walls and multiple floors – typically, two to three stories. Townhouse residents usually share common spaces, such as a pool or driveway, with other neighbors as well.

Compared to living in a condo or an apartment, these occupants have more private space and their own private outdoor entrance. In general, a townhome also requires less upkeep than a single-family house, making them perfect for those looking to live a low maintenance lifestyle. Despite the many desirable features of these attached homes, however, moving to a townhouse can have its drawbacks. Here’s a look at 6 things to consider before relocating to these convenient and charming dwellings.

Cost

Generally speaking, townhouses tend to be more affordable than single-family homes. According to Money Crashers , an attached townhome “could cost tens of thousands of dollars less than an equivalently sized single-family unit.” Since many townhouses are newer and receive a good amount of upkeep, they are also more likely to be updated, as opposed to an older single-family home that costs the same but requires an overhaul.

This lower price point makes them especially appealing to young couples and singles who are looking for a smart, first-time home purchase. However, those moving to a townhome should strongly consider any HOA (Homeowners’ Association) fees attached to their new community. Many communities require residents to pay hefty monthly dues to cover any structural insurance needed, as well as landscaping and maintenance needs. While neighborhood association fees can be expensive, they can also save homeowners from having to manage the upkeep of their house and community amenities, such as a pool, garden or gym. So make sure to take these HOA fees into account, along with your mortgage payment, when considering a townhouse move.

Moving

I won’t lie to you: moving to a townhouse isn’t going to be easy. As someone who has moved to several townhomes in their life, I can attest that lifting a couch up three flights of stairs was no walk in the park. You’re going to need help. That means either enlisting friends or hiring a professional moving company to do the heavy lifting.

Additionally, if the stairwells are narrow, you could run into trouble hoisting clunkier furniture and mattresses up the stairs without hitting the railings or scratching up your walls. Another thing to consider when moving to a townhome is your moving truck’s parking situation. Whether it’s street parking or a shared driveway, you’ll need to contact your HOA prior to the move to ask about the most appropriate place to park when moving.

On the bright side, with townhouses located so close together, you’re sure to meet and greet some of your curious neighbors on moving day!

Location

One advantage to living in a townhouse is that you’ll more than likely enjoy living in a vibrant area. In general, townhomes tend to be located in large cities and urban areas, where single-family homes are more expensive or non-existent. This means the location of a townhouse is ideal for those who love living near urban centers, great restaurants, a slew of entertainment options, parks and public transportation. Those seeking a home with big city amenities without the price tag of a detached home or the inconveniences of a high-rise, will find what they’re looking for in a townhouse community.

Privacy

For some, a townhouse’s lack of privacy can be a major deterrent. While some townhomes offer private balconies or patios, you won’t find many that offer a private outdoor yard. Townhouses that do have small backyards lack real privacy, as other townhomes and neighbors tower over the outdoor space as well. Close proximity to neighbors can also be a concern for townhouse occupants. Given that you’re sharing a wall with your neighbors, you’re sure to see (and possibly hear) them throughout the day.

Convenience

Looking for convenience? You’ll find it in a townhouse. These attached homes tend to be located within walking distance to everyday conveniences, such as restaurants, markets, coffee shops and parks. Living in a townhome also means not having to mow the lawn, clean the pool, resurface the driveway or landscape the yard. That’s because your HOA will take care of it for you. After all, you’re paying them for a reason! Many HOA fees will also cover your insurance and general maintenance needs, such as exterior painting, structural issues and possible storm damage. HOA’s may cost a pretty penny, but for many it’s a small price to pay for the added convenience.

Rules

Finally, the community’s rules and restrictions are one of the most important considerations to make before moving to a townhouse. For better or worse, many HOA’s come with a long list of what you can and cannot do while living in your townhouse. From the pool hours to any changes made to your home’s exterior, your HOA should provide you with a list of dos and don’ts before you move.