Among the advantages of living in a big city is the various home styles there are to choose from. The freehold townhouse is one of the most popular examples. But what is a freehold townhouse and why do people love it so much? This post will answer these questions and more.
What is a Freehold Townhouse in Toronto?
A freehold townhouse looks exactly what you might envision upon hearing the word “townhouse.” It is connected to other dwellings on either side (or a single side, in the case of an end unit). You may have also heard this style of home referred to as a “row house.”
Where freehold townhomes differ from other types of properties is in the legalities of ownership, which more closely resemble that of a detached house.
What this means is that you don’t have to pay the maintenance and condo association fees typical of townhomes that don’t fall under the “freehold” classification.
This means huge savings for you. Condo maintenance and association fees can be quite expensive, costing an average of $628 per month in Toronto. That’s on top of your mortgage! Additionally, if you don’t stay current with your condo fees, boards are typically allowed to put a lien on your property and seize it to recover lost funds.
The freedom of a freehold townhouse contrasts starkly against the lack thereof with condos. However, this is just one of several reasons people prefer freehold townhouses in Toronto. Let’s take a look at more in the next section.
Why People Love Freehold Townhouses in Toronto
Lower Cost Than a Detached Home
As of August 2020, the average detached house in Toronto costs $1.5 million. At that price point, government regulations require that homebuyers have a minimum 20% downpayment, which works out to $300,000. That’s a lot of money – and you’ll still be left with a very sizeable mortgage, even at today’s low rates.
The average townhouse in Toronto, meanwhile, costs $1 million. If you can negotiate a price below seven figures (which is very possible with two-bedroom townhomes or those in areas of the GTA like Brampton and Kleinburg, your minimum downpayment drops to 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the remainder.
It’s a much more attainable goal for most people.
Additionally, you can afford a much nicer new freehold townhouse for less money than you’d spend on an older detached.
More Greenspace Than a Condo
Another advantage of purchasing a freehold townhouse is that you’ll enjoy your very own green space via a backyard. You won’t have to worry about other tenants disrupting your peaceful walk in the courtyard with their cigarette smoking as you would in a condo.
This also means you get to style your backyard however you want. Like gardening? Go wild as opposed to just having a few plants on your condo balcony.
If you look at freehold townhouses for sale in the GTA, you’ll notice that most are in very family-friendly neighborhoods. This differs from condominiums, which are often in busier areas that aren’t really conducive to letting kids ride their bikes freely or taking long, peaceful evening strolls.
To be fair, condominiums definitely have their demographic: young professionals and those with very small children who don’t need much room to run around yet. Freehold townhomes, on the other hand, are a staple of the middle-class family lifestyle in Toronto.
Handle Maintenance Yourself
While this might seem like a downside, it’s actually great for practicality and your wallet.
When you live in a condo, maintenance fees can be somewhat of a black hole. You have little say in how those funds get allocated because the whole process is designed to address collective needs rather than your preferences.
This is easily among the most annoying aspects of living in a condominium.
You don’t have to worry about it in a freehold townhouse, though. Maintenance decisions are 100% your business, which means you can prioritize things exactly as you please.
More Control Over Your Property’s Value
The average condo complex has hundreds of units. Each person that lives in one of those units plays a role in maintaining the building’s overall desirability. All it takes is a few bad apples to give the property a negative reputation.
As powerful as condo boards are, they can’t just kick people out immediately for poor behavior, which means you may have to deal with issues like littering and noise for prolonged periods of time.
With a freehold townhouse, on the other hand, you have just a few neighbors to pick a bone with if the block starts looking a little messy.
More Accessible for Investors
Many investors shy away from purchasing condominiums because the monthly fees reduce the chances of turning a profit.
A freehold townhouse, however, is simultaneously more accessible and less burdened by fixed recurring costs that can make ownership as an investor feel like walking a tightrope.
Downsides of Living in a Freehold Townhouse
No one style of housing is right for everyone. Here are some downsides to living in a freehold townhouse.
Less Privacy Than a Detached Home
There’s no denying the peacefulness of owning a detached home with ample room on either side separating you from your neighbors.
No type of townhouse offers this. You’ll still occasionally hear things happening on the other side of the wall and periodically be annoyed by your neighbors’ guests blocking access to your driveway.
Increased Potential for Disruptive Renters
Homeowners tend to dislike renters in their neighborhood because a lack of ownership can lead to complacency. Freehold townhouses are popular among renters because, as you’ll remember, investors flock to this type of property. It’s just a possibility you’ll have to live with.
What is a Freehold Townhouse? Conclusion
Freehold townhouses combine the physical characteristics of low-rise condominium row houses with the legalities of a detached home.
In cities like Toronto, freehold properties are much more affordable, which makes them accessible to the middle class to a degree that detached properties have ceased to be. If you’re interested in purchasing a freehold townhouse, we invite you to check out our communities. We also offer plenty of detached residences and semis throughout the Greater Toronto Area.