Townhouses in greater demand in New Jersey
The needs of two competing generations have combined to form a greater demand for townhomes across the Garden State and the country, and in some areas, builders are struggling to keep up.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, townhouse construction starts totaled 72,000 in 2014, up from 68,000 starts the year prior. In the final quarter of last year, townhouses accounted for 12 percent of all single-family starts, marking the highest share since the end of 2012.
Amber Noble-Garland, a licensed New Jersey realtor with Keller Williams Realty West Monmouth, said the attached, multistory properties are attractive to first-time buyers as well as empty-nesters looking to downsize.
"Many of them are coming out of larger homes," she said. "Their kids have graduated from college."
These homes have also been a go-to option for owners who were rocked by the economic downturn and had to tighten their financial belts.
However, according to Noble-Garland, townhouse prices in New Jersey have been edging higher due to greater demand and lower supply.
"The challenge has really been, in New Jersey, that there isn't necessarily enough space to go around where builders can actually build," she said. "Hence the price of condos and townhomes, while still affordable, has started to increase."
The main draw of a townhome, Noble-Garland suggested, is the promise of a "maintenance-free lifestyle."
The townhouse association charges a monthly fee to each unit, and in turn, occupants don't need to worry about jobs such as landscaping and shoveling. In most instances, the cost of necessary outdoor repairs also falls on the association. The fee can also help with the upkeep of on-site amenities.
"Some of them have tennis courts; some of them have basketball courts; many of them have fitness centers," said Noble-Garland.
Not everyone is into the townhouse lifestyle, though. With a single-family home, detached from neighbors and an association, owners have the option of customization, inside and out.
"When you live in a condo or townhome, you do have to follow the rules," Noble-Garland said. "You have this big bible-like book of bylaws that tell you what you can and cannot do."