Condo, Apartment, Co-Op, Flat, or Townhome?

by Toni Itkin 06/23/2019

Called “common-interest housing” condos, co-ops, flats, townhomes, and apartments have different meanings to different buyers and even have different colloquial meanings than the official real estate industry meanings. Below you'll find a breakdown of the differences between these housing types along with the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

What is “Common Interest Housing”?

Before going too deep, it is essential to understand just what "common-interest housing" actually is. This type of real estate involves a combination of individually owned areas and shared areas in a single property. Shared areas often include pools, parking, and clubhouses, but it can also mean shared landscaping, exteriors, fences and roofs depending on the type of property. A property manager, homeowners association (HOA) or a combination of the two maintains common areas.

Condos and Co-Ops

Condominiums, more commonly called condos, are single home units in a shared property. A homeowner separately owns each unit. The shared property types range from high rise buildings, also called apartments or flats, to conjoined homes townhouse-style. A single family home in a planned community or a mobile home in a community or park can also be condos. Instead of a specific type of home style, "condominium" is a legal term in the United States that refers to the ownership status, so homes of any form, connected or not, can qualify if they are part of a shared property community. 

A co-op, short for cooperative housing development, is another thing entirely. While similarly structured with private and shared areas, co-op owners purchase and own shares in the real estate development instead of their specific portion of the property. All the shareholders have a voice in the real estate corporation, and their investment includes the right to live in a unit. Usually, the monthly expenses of the real estate corporation split between shareholders, so this can be an extra expense you need to plan for. Similarly to condominium, "co-op" is a legal term that refers to the ownership style of the building or neighborhood instead of the building's structure. Depending on your area, you can find co-ops in apartment-style buildings, single family home neighborhoods and townhome style shared wall housing. 

Flats, Townhomes, and Apartments

You’ve noticed the words flat, apartment and townhome in the descriptions of condos and co-ops above. This is because apartments, flats, and townhomes don't have such specific legal meanings. The term "apartment" most often refers to rental units, usually in a single building or set of structures. These are generally not owned, but instead leased or rented from the owner of the entire building or complex. However, since apartments are just a building style with several units that have shared walkways and entryways, apartments can be rentals, condos or co-ops depending on the situation. 

Townhomes refer to a specific building style where the house connects to another house on at least one side. Just like apartments, townhomes could be rentals, co-ops, condos or single-family homes. The true townhome design requires both homes to have separate side-walls even though they touch. However, a lot of condo, co-op and apartment designs look like townhomes without actually meeting the construction requirements. Do this by styling the front or backs of each unit differently, even if constructed as part of a single building. 

Are you thinking of buying a condominium or co-op? CONTACT ME about what's available in your area!  [email protected] OR 404-229-8242

About the Author
Author

Toni Itkin


MEET TONI ITKIN

Toni Itkin is a licensed Realtor® serving buyers and sellers across BuckheadViningsSandy SpringsRoswellMarietta, East Cobb, and other high-profile areas of Metro Atlanta.

Toni began her real estate career in 1992 with Buckhead Brokers, where she earned "Rookie of the Year” before rapidly ascending to her status as a multi-million dollar producer. Since then, she has been consecutively featured in the Who’s Who of Atlanta Real Estate for many years.

Equipped with sharp negotiating skills, an intuitive marketing acumen, and a strong network of professional relationships, Toni is a fierce advocate for her clients. Whether it’s a one-bedroom condo or a multi-million dollar mansion estate, Toni’s ultimate goal is to find her clients a home that perfectly fits their budget and lifestyle. Toni’s reputation for professionalism and trustworthiness in and out of the brokerage community is of utmost importance to her. As a Certified Luxury Homes Specialist, Toni has a finger on the pulse of Metro Atlanta’s luxury real estate market, and as a Certified Relocation Specialist, she is uniquely positioned to provide support for homebuyers who are relocating.

Toni is a member of Georgia Association of Realtors®, National Association of Realtors®, Atlanta Board of Realtors® and Haute Residence’s Luxury Real Estate Exclusive, Invitation-only Network. Toni is also a recipient of the Atlanta Board of Realtor®’s coveted Crystal Phoenix Award, which means she’s achieved the organization’s "Multi-Million Dollar Club” status for a minimum of 25 years. As a Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent, she is consistently ranked among the company’s top one percent of agents worldwide and has been recognized as an honoree of the International Diamond Society, International President’s Circle, International President’s Elite, President’s Premier, and Society of Excellence.

Toni is also very active in local charities and civic organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Best Friends Animal Society and the Atlanta and Cobb County Humane Societies. In addition, a portion of Toni’s sales commission on every closed transaction goes directly to the Cares Foundation, which makes a difference in Atlanta communities by supporting a variety of local charitable organizations.  She lives in East Cobb and enjoys traveling, playing golf and tennis, and spending time with her pets and her husband, Ernie, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.