If you’re ready to buy a home, you need to face the facts first. Buying property is an extremely difficult decision – not just the individual purchase (“which home am I going to buy?”) but the very type of home can already complicate things from the get-go. You have to consider what you’re looking for in a home, and you have to – above all else – consider your current position in life relative to where you’ll probably be in the next decade or so.
Sure, life is unpredictable – we never truly know what will happen in the future – but knowing whether you want to stay in a home for good or find something to buy only to sell it shortly afterwards makes a huge difference when it comes to actually choosing where you’re going to live. When it comes to making your first choice of a “starter home” – or rather, your first purchase on the property market, it’s a good idea to be well-informed first.
Usually, when presented with the first choice for purchase, future homeowners make a choice between buying and renting a condo or a house. Owners looking to start a family usually go for houses, while career-oriented individuals go for condominiums – unless they’re living in the city, where, like in Bangkok, most people tend to live in condominiums according to Global Property Guide.
So, to get you started on the right path, let’s explore one of the lesser-chosen options when it comes to purchasing and investing in the booming Thai property market – the townhouse. Cost-effective and small, it may be what you’re looking for if you’re moving nearer to one Thailand’s borderland economic zones, which are expanding rapidly with international investments, as per the Japan Times.
Here’s why you may want one (or why one may be completely wrong for you):
You Own Your Land
Townhouses are often compared to condominiums, and for good reason. A townhouse comes with a Homeowners Association, which takes care of the common areas in the compound and offers you a list of covenants, conditions and restrictions. It also comes with a ton of amenities, such as a community swimming pool and other nice little additions for everyone to make use of. However, these perks are usually accompanied by the fact that, in a condo, you own walls and air. There is no land for you to own, nothing truly to plant in, and no “lot”.
That’s different in a townhouse. Townhouses still have lawns, albeit small ones, and these depend upon the style of the house and the development company that worked on the compound. However, for the most part, owning a townhouse still feels more like owning an actual single-dwelling home than it feels like owning a condo somewhere on the twentieth floor, a stone-throw’s away from the nearest shopping mall and High Street. You get to live in the city outskirts, you get fresher air, and a home closer to the ground (which makes less work of schlepping your groceries).
All the Amenities You Could Ask For
Most high-quality townhouse communities come with a lot of benefits that you’d also find in a condominium, for much less of a cost than if you’d have to finance each of these for your own single-dwelling home. A swimming pool? Check. You don’t have to pay full price for the cost of chlorine, maintenance and so on, but you get to go swimming and arrange weekend playdates between your kids and the kids next door – not just at the beach, but two blocks over by the community pool.
As an owner, you can get involved with the Homeowner’s Association and actually get a stake in how the pool is treated. If you’re an owner of one of 50 houses in the area, then you own 2% of all common areas in the community – and those 2% could be enough political power that you can adjust the amount of chlorine put in the pool for safety reasons, or the regularity of cleaning schedules, and the association fees budget allocated to any part of the community.
Townhouse communities typically also have a sports court of some kind – such as a tennis court, or basketball court.
Maintenance Is Easier, and Cheaper
Condominium owners pay more in association fees than townhouse owners, because for the most part, they have to pay for the maintenance of their unit as well as a stake of all the common areas. Townhouse owners, on the other hand, are tasked with the maintenance of their unit – most specifically the yard. Association fees cover joint costs, such as amenities and road maintenance, but also fresh coats of paint, roof and fence repairs, etc.
Owning a house, on the other hand, will plague you with a number of other associated costs. While you don’t have to pay for monthly maintenance from an association, you have to worry about higher mortgage premiums (because single dwelling homes are typically more expensive), alongside property tax payments, and the actual cost of maintaining your yard yourself (anyone up for some hefty yard work?)
More Neighbors, Tighter Security
More neighbors usually mean one thing – less privacy. However, that can have its benefits. While you’re more likely to hear your neighbors argue, the CC&R specifically requires there to be proper conduct among homeowners. So you won’t have to worry about garage bands, or overly obnoxious neighbors.
Next, you don’t really have to worry as much about strangers, either. With everyone knowing one another, a suspicious stranger is much more likely to be reported and caught in a townhouse community than in a basic residential district. Many communities also come with their own armed personal security forces, to ensure that the neighborhood stays safe.
You’re Looking to Retire
While a couple with children may not like the fact that townhouses are a bit on the small side, their cost and size and feeling of community make them the perfect alternative to a retirement village. Knowing your neighbors means they’ll know when something’s wrong – and when your health is failing, it’s always a good idea to have someone nearby hear when you suffer a fall or an accident.
Other than that, their lower cost versus condominiums and lack of vertical transportation – meaning, no need for elevators and stairs – make them a viable option, especially if you’ve sold your home or given it to your children.
It’ll Be Hard to Sell
While this isn’t really a reason you should own a townhouse, it is something that needs to be kept in mind – townhouses aren’t always in high demand. As such, selling one isn’t easy. You’re better off buying a townhouse, living in it, and then inquiring with the Homeowners Association regarding the possibility of renting your townhouse out to outside tenants.
Tenants don’t get the power of a homeowner, so you would still have involvement in the community – most notably your regular association fees – but in the event that you can’t sell your townhouse after an upgrade, it may be more cost-effective to rent it out than seek a real estate agent. You can also attempt a sale yourself, by featuring your townhouse on online marketplaces such as DDProperty.
There is no single best answer for everyone when it comes to making your first property decision – figure out where you are in life, and make your choice according to your needs, and the needs you’ll most likely have in a few years.