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What is the difference between a freehold and condo townhouse?

Confusingly, a townhouse can refer to very different property types in Canada. Most of it has to do with ownership. You own an entire freehold townhouse, also known as a row or attached house.  Whereas with a condominium townhouse you own the interior, and the condominium corporation owns the exterior and common areas.

Both of these types of houses for sale  are commonly available in Canada, although they make up a fraction of the market compared to detached houses and condo apartment units. Townhouses for sale are most likely to be found in major urban centres or densely packed suburbs.

What to expect with a townhouse

What both types of townhouses have in common is that they are the middle link between detached houses and condo apartment units. They are the “missing middle.” Unlike condo apartments, they often include basements, are located on the ground level and may have a yard or other small outdoor space.

They typically require less maintenance than single-family homes, and size-wise are usually in between detached houses and apartments. As well, remember you’ll be sharing a wall with at least one neighbour – and most likely two!

Also, the price of townhouses are usually somewhere between a detached house and apartment, but this can vary depending on the homes age, size, and neighbourhood.

The differences between freehold and condominium townhouses

A main difference between the two types of townhouses is price, with freehold units in higher demand, and usually more expensive.

For example, the average freehold townhouse in the Greater Toronto Area sold for $713,815 in 2019, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. Meanwhile, the average condo townhouse sold for $595,129 in 2019, which is actually pretty similar to what a condo apartment sold for ($587,959). And don’t forget — while condo townhouses may have a lower purchase price, you’ll also be on the hook for monthly maintenance fees to pay for the upkeep of the common areas. 

A freehold townhouse is right for you if:

  • Paying condo fees is not of interest to you

  • The freedom to change the exterior of your house is important to you

  • You have the time and energy to maintain your property, like shovelling snow

  • Spending more upfront is okay with you (with higher likelihood of appreciation)

A condo townhouse is right for you if:

  • You want a carefree lifestyle and don’t want to spend any time upkeeping your home; the condo corporation is responsible for underground parking, snow removal and exterior repairs

  • You want a more affordable home and are okay paying the monthly maintenance fees

In many ways, townhouses are the best of all worlds. Whichever type you choose really  just depends on which ownership structure you prefer, which is a personal choice. 

Check out MLS listings in Canada to see the price of freehold and condo townhouses in your area. 

Zoocasa is a full-service brokerage that offers advanced online search tools to empower Canadians with the data and expertise they need to make more successful real estate decisions. View real estate listings at or download our free iOS app