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Pros and cons of a detached home vs. attached home

The Millenial generation gets blamed for ruining American institutions. But homeownership is not one of them. Like their parents or grandparents, many Millennials still define the American dream as owning their own home.

For some, that means a house and a lawn and a property line. For others, the goal is a low-maintenance condo or townhome as a crash pad for an active lifestyle. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of buying a detached home versus an attached home.

Many Millenials are opting for a house and yard of their own

Homeownership has been elusive for Millennials, for a variety of reasons from lesser earning power to exorbitant real estate prices. Still, adults under the age of 36 (the Millennial generation) now make up the biggest segment of homebuyers - most of them first-time homeowners. After deciding to move on from renting (or living with Mom and Dad), an increasing number are choosing to buy a detached single-family house.

The pros:

  • Space and privacy - More square footage, more separation from noisy/nosy neighbors
  • Location, location, location - More options (layout, neighborhood, traffic, aesthetics)
  • Freedom - You can do what you want with your property.

The cons:

  • Maintenance - You are responsible for upkeep and repairs.
  • Cost - Detached homes generally cost more than townhouses or condos.

Detached homes are often preferred by couples who have kids or plan to start a family.

Other Millenials don't want to tied down by a home

A big front lawn is great ... until it needs mowing. Then you're either cutting the grass yourself or paying someone to do it. All the maintenance adds up - dollarwise and timewise. Thus many homebuyers intentionally choose (or later change to) condominium or townhome living.

The pros:

  • Lower mortgage - If you don't need all that space, put the money to other uses.
  • Low maintenance - Lawn care, snow removal and exterior maintenance are not your problem.
  • Amenities - Townhome and condo complexes often offer a pool, gym, party room and other perks.
  • Location, location, location - Many offer ready access to highways, walkable shopping and dining

The cons:

  • Homeowner associations (HOA) - Steep fees, draconian rules, pet policies
  • Cookie cutter - Every unit looks exactly the same.
  • Neighbors - Shared driveways, thin walls, common areas

These are generalities. Upscale townhomes and condos can be pricier than houses of comparable square footage. Some HOAs are more liberal with their rules, and certain New Jersey townships are stricter about you can do with your detached home. Your real estate agent can steer you in the right direction.

Protecting your home sweet home: get legal advice on the front end

Whether you choose attached or detached, it is prudent to get legal counsel before you go through with the transaction. Common legal issues with detached homes are liens and other issues with the title, undisclosed defects and needed repairs, financing issues and fraud. When purchasing a townhouse or condo unit, you need to fully understand the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R), including association fees, subletting, visitors, etc.

The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh advises clients in negotiation, due diligence and consummation of residential real estate transactions, and also handles real estate litigation such as breach of contract, property disputes and HOA conflicts.

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