What is the difference between a condo, a PUD, and a townhome? Good question. But, first, what the heck is a PUD?
A PUD, is a “Planned Unit Development”. Which
is a fancy schmantzy term for a neighborhood with a master plan. The
homes may be attached (which we think of as condos), or detached homes.
There will be a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) charging monthly dues,
whose duties will vary. Some may maintain the homes, or the landscaping. Some may only be responsible for the common area landscaping. Or maybe maintaining a front gate, or private roads. This varies widely, as do the dues.
But the key ingredient is that in a PUD the homeowner owns their own home and the land beneath it.
A condo, on the other hand, (short for
condominium) may look the same as a PUD, but the homeowner only owns the
interior walls and the interior airspace of the home. They
do not own the exterior of the building or the ground beneath. That
ground is owned collectively by all the homeowners in the development,
along with the rest of the common area, like pools or walking trails.
Typically, the HOA is responsible for the exterior maintenance of the
unit, plus all landscaping. I have found that the
responsibility for the maintenance of decks varies greatly from condo to
condo. Some HOA’s will maintain them, while with others, it’s the
homeowner’s responsibility. And decks are expensive, so check before you
While "condo" refers to the way you own your land,
and PUD says you are a planned development, "townhome" is totally
different. A townhome is an architectural style. We
usually think of a townhome as a two story unit, frequently a condo, and
frequently with a garage on the first floor. Whenever anyone asked me
to show them a townhome, I have to ask a lot of questions to see what
they really want.
The confusion between these terms is
understandable. We tend to refer to them as condos when they look like
“condos”. But, in truth both condos, PUDs, and townhomes can look the
same. In fact frequently they are the same. Imagine a two story condo in
a planned unit development! Crosswoods, in Citrus Heights,
above, is a good example of a PUD that looks like a condo or a
townhome, but the owners technically own the land beneath the units.
But it is referred to as a condo development, since in buyer's eyes,
that's what it looks like. No wonder you are confused!
When buying a PUD or a condo, it is important to
know the difference. If your appraiser uses the condo appraisal form,
only to find out it is a PUD, your escrow may be held up while the
appraisal is redone on the right form. So you'll want to know going into
Confused?? Don't worry. If you like it, buy it. That's what will ultimately make you happy.