Condo, Townhome, Patio Home – What’s The Difference?

Have you started the beginning stages of researching the housing real estate options? The

descriptions for condos, townhomes and patio homes can sometimes be confusing. In fact,

many people don’t know the difference between these property types. As you start to weigh the

different housing options, you will discover that many homes offer exterior home maintenance.

In the interest of helping the real estate investor, let’s take a look at what each of these terms

mean legally and what they mean in a real estate listing.


A condominium, frequently referred to as a condo, is a building or complex of buildings

containing a number of individually owned apartments or houses. Condominiums are much like

apartments, where other units may be above you, below you, or to either side. A condo owner

is legally considered to own the property consisting of the walls within. Condo ownership comes

with no land rights and no airspace rights above. Parking is typically not attached to the

property (although in some cases it is), but assigned to the unit and a part of the legal

ownership structure.


A townhome is usually a multi-story house; two or more stories in a modern housing

development which is attached to one or more similar houses by shared walls. However, in

some cases, a property may legally be considered a townhome even if it is a single-story

property. Townhomes typically share common walls to either side with other units but never

above or below. Parking may be attached to the unit or it may be assigned somewhere on the


Patio Home:

There’s not usually a legal definition of a patio home. Some houses called patio homes may

alternatively be marketed as townhomes as they are very much like townhomes except they

often do not share common walls with other units, or sometimes only one wall. Most taxing

jurisdictions do not have a separate classification for patio homes. Patio homes are constructed

much like free-standing homes, but typically very close together or connected in a limited

manner. Parking is usually a part of the unit itself, not common on the property.


Although each term is different, all three words are used to mean the same structure. Each

home offers a Homeowners Association (HOA) that will manage and be responsible for the care

of external maintenance for a fee. Most buyers looking for a condo, townhome, or patio home

are looking to alleviate some type of maintenance from their current house. Thus, having the

option for maintenance included with your home is a fee many are willing to pay for. This allows

the owners to free up more of their time and also eliminates the need to store large home