Tips For Purchasing A Chicago Townhome

Townhome Width

The objective for purchasing a home within a set price range is to obtain one that is as wide as possible. Typically in Chicago, the most horizontal home you can purchase is 24ft wide. Townhomes with this feature are typically in the $800,000 and above price range. There are also homes that are 16, 18 and 20 ft wide. Keep in mind that the wider the townhome feel the better the resale value.

Ceiling Heights

Older townhomes typically have 8ft ceilings; newer ones have anywhere from 9- to10-ft ceilings.  Naturally the preferred is at least 9 ft because higher ceilings enhance the volume of the townhome and make it feel much larger.


In today´s market people prefer an eat-in´ kitchen, specifically space for a breakfast table or an island that allows the family to eat informally. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops are extremely popular.

Hardwood Floors

Most townhomes have hardwood floors on the living room and kitchen level. Homes with hardwood floors in the bedrooms as well are typically more expensive. Hardwood floors on the diagonal are considered premium because they make a room look larger.

Beware that not all hardwood floors are equal. The standard is maple, oak (and white oak), but some townhomes feature pre-fab hardwood floors. You should try to purchase a home with real hardwood floors as you may need to re-sand them
for maintance. Note that top of the line flooring is Brazilian cherry hardwood.

Fee Simple vs. Condo Townhomes

When purchasing a fee simple home you own the property and the land all the way to the roof. So if something goes wrong with the unit, you are responsible for repairs. In a condominium townhome project you own a share in the development; therefore if something goes wrong with common elements for the other units; everyone shares the expense of the repair.

In fee simple you are responsible only for your individual townhome. Note that some developments are fee simple while the associations have a reserve for the maintenance of the roofs. It is important for you to question whether the association has a special reserve for this purpose and what the amount is.

Gated Townhome Communities

There are a number of gated communities in Chicago where you need to pass security to enter. Such protection may be a nice feature to have but remember that association fees for these townhomes are far greater than ungated communities.


Low assessments in the condominium complex will typically help in the resale of a home. As a rule, buyers prefer to be in townhomes with assessments less than $500.00 per month.

Square Footage

When a realtor quotes the square footage of a townhome keep in mind that the actual livable square feet is less than quoted by 200 square feet for a one-car garage and 400 square feet for a two-car garage. In Chicago, square footage on a listing sheet includes the garage space.

New Construction Townhomes

When buying a brand new townhome review the cost per square foot in addition to the detailed list of appliances and upgrades provided by the developer.

Schedule a time to review actual samples of all finishes provided by the developer. Pay particular attention to base board design and any unusual ceiling design elements such as tray ceilings and recessed lighting.

Ask what kind of cabinets are standard, which are upgraded and their height (typically 42 inches is preferred. Make sure you like the appliance package as some developers will not give you a credit to substitute other appliances. It is recommended that you visit ABT (appliance showroom in Glenview) to compare pricing and features. You also need to decide who will install because the developer will add a mark up to this service.