By Jane Paige, writer for New Homes & Ideas

Looking for the ideal home that is low maintenance yet offers all the amenities of a modern lifestyle?

Townhouses and condominiums throughout the Triangle fit the bill for many homeowners seeking to take that important step. From young professionals seeking a first home to empty nesters wanting to downsize, both housing styles can make your dream home a reality, local experts agree.

“One of the biggest appeals is a lower price point than many single family homes” says Shaun Smith, broker in charge/developer of Society Real Estate, a company working with Blue Heel Communities, who is developing Village at the Park, a townhouse community in West Cary. “Townhouses also are very low-maintenance, offering a lifestyle that appeals to all ages. Owners can just lock and leave in a townhouse.”

This “lock and leave” concept is also a primary benefit of condo living too, says  Ryan Switzer, division assistant vice president for Toll Brothers and acting project manager at The Cottages at Brier Creek, a condo community in Raleigh.

Townhomes and condos are generally less expensive than single-family, detached homes. With often smaller square footage, lower utility bills and fewer out-of-pocket maintenance costs, townhome and condo living simply costs less.

Condos and townhouses share a few common qualities. With both, you have some ownership over the property, but you’re not responsible for every single aspect of residence, like trash collection for instance.


Photo courtesy of Upper Echelon Visuals

The most notable difference between a townhouse and a condo is that the owner of a condo only owns the interior of the unit. The homeowners association that owns the complex owns the exterior unit, the front and back lawns if they exist and the communal areas. With a townhouse, you own the interior and the exterior as well as any lawn. In both communities, homeowners association dues help pay for the upkeep of most outdoor amenities.

Townhouses are almost always built-in rows, and each unit is multiple stories tall. Condos, on the other hand, vary widely in style and layout. They can be ranch-style, cottages or even in high-rise buildings.

Both offer a wide variety of low-maintenance conveniences that appeal to a cross-section of buyers, local experts agree. They are less expensive than most single-family homes but offer the benefits of ownership not found in an apartment.

Since both housing styles are situated close together, a real sense of community can develop among neighbors, homeowners agree. This is another advantage to the lifestyles of

Husband and wife Juan Puig and Wanda Fernandez moved last fall to a first-floor condo at The Cottages at Brier Creek from an 11th-floor condo in Miami, Fla. Being close to the airport and shopping centers were major housing requirements, he says, as well as eliminating stairs in their unit. “We are very happy with our new home and all the neighbors are friendly here,” she says. “It is a very community-oriented situation. Everyone seems to have moved here from someplace else and is eager to get to know the neighbors.” They were able to customize the interior of their 1,840-square-foot end unit that features an open concept with two bedrooms and a two-car garage. “We were looking for a slower lifestyle than we had in Miami, Puig says. “Living in a condo here is certainly much different that living in one in Florida. We are very pleased with our decisions.”

Toll Brothers is developing the 285 condo units with construction underway on the eighth building now in the popular Brier Creek community. Seven-floor plans are offered and all have two-car garages.


Photo courtesy of Toll Brothers

“The condos are a bit of a hybrid, offering something for everyone,” says Switzer with Toll Brothers. “We have one, two, three and four-level units with varied square footages from 1,363 up to 2,800. Some even have rooftop terraces that are perfect for entertaining.”

The ideal location in the Brier Creek community is a major asset for the condos, says Elizabeth Blissett, sales manager at the Cottages. Close to the airport and Research Triangle Park, the units appeal to a diverse community of residents. Other benefits include a clubhouse, swimming pool and the opportunity to use the Brier Creek Country Club.

Location often is another popular asset for both townhouses and condos. Many times they are built in urban areas within walking distance of existing shopping centers, restaurants, and schools. Two of the new townhome developments in Cary offer advantages of a low-maintenance lifestyle, less expensive homes and a close-knit community in a growing location.  Located off Green Level Church Road, Village at The Park will include 21 townhomes and six single-family homes. It is located close to elementary and middle schools, another appeal for the development.

Presales have just started, with three-floor plans for the townhomes being offered. Everyone from young professionals to families to empty nesters finds the appeal in these townhomes with top quality interior amenities, Smith says. These include open floor plans, granite countertops, large bathrooms and access to community features such as restaurants and shops.

Blue Heel Communities also is developing Chatham Pointe, a 24-unit townhome community near downtown Cary. With direct access to Higgins Greenway, the community includes 24 townhouses – 10 traditional townhome units and 14 attached end unit duplexes.

Homes range from 1,892 to 2,348 square feet and feature three to four bedrooms, loft areas, and either a one or two-car garage depending on the home plan. Residents also have the options for outside storage shed, extended patio, covered porch or screen porch, upgraded gourmet kitchen and more.

Today’s townhomes and condos often offer all the amenities and more than many single-family homes, local housing experts agree. Homebuyers have an increased interest in both housing styles as they look for less maintenance living at fewer costs.

“We have a diverse clientele at all stages of life,” says Switzer with Toll Brothers, of the condo living. “This flexible style of living appeals to many people.”

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