Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned pro, buying a home can be an exciting and overwhelming process. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which type of home is right for you. That's why we've put together this informative guide to educate you on the 5 most common types of homes and help you choose the one that's the best fit for your lifestyle and needs. From traditional single-family homes to modern townhouses and everything in between, we'll explore the pros and cons of each type of home so you can make an informed decision.
1. Single-Family Homes
A single-family home is a residential building that doesn’t share a wall with another dwelling. Typically, a single-family homeowner owns the building and the land the building sits on. This is usually what someone imagines whenever they think about owning a home. The benefits to owning a single-family home are:
- You do not share the property: Detached single-family homes aren’t attached to other residences, granting you much privacy, and you don’t have to share utilities or heating and AC with another residence.
- You own the land: Single-family homeowners usually own the land that the residence sits on, which allows you to make changes as you please.
- You have more space: A single-family residence gives you the most spaciousness out of the homes listed below. Sometimes they’ll include a garage, basement, or attic. You can also add other structures onto your land like a shed, or you can add onto your home and expand.
Single-family homes are not without their cons though. Here are some downsides to owning a single-family home:
- You are responsible for everything: As the owner of the home and land, you are responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep. This includes your lawn, your pool if you have one on the property, and any appliances in your home. All the costs for repairs come out of your pocket.
- Single-family homes are expensive: Because you are responsible for the entire property, a single-family home can be pricey. Not only that, but the down payment and closing costs when buying a home add up.
- Lack of amenities: Unlike a rental property that usually has communal amenities, your single-family home is unlikely to have access to these. This means that you will have to look elsewhere for gyms or sport courts, and pools if your property does not have one.
2. Semi-Detached Homes
A semi-detached home is a single-family dwelling that shares one wall with another dwelling. This means that you share a small portion of the house with another family. The residences usually mirror one another. A duplex is the prime example of a modern semi-detached home. There are some benefits to owning a home like this:
- Lower buying price: A semi-detached home is usually more affordable since it is attached to another dwelling. A lower price means a lower mortgage payment, which could fit your situation depending on what you’re looking for.
- You save on maintenance fees: In addition to saving on purchasing, there’s also potential to save on maintenance fees. Since you share the lot with another residence, you may be able to negotiate for shared maintenance costs.
- More space than townhomes and apartments: While semi-detached homes will be smaller than detached homes, they are usually more spacious than a townhome or apartment. This is especially true when it comes to having yard space. Apartments do not have yards, and some don’t even have patios attached. As for townhomes, they may have yards smaller than that of a semi-detached home. So, if you’re looking for something with a low price point and space, then a semi-detached home might just be the right home for you.
There are cons to owning a semi-detached home, though. Those cons are:
- Noise from the other residence: Unfortunately, sharing a dwelling means having to deal with noise from the other residents. There is the option of soundproofing the walls, but this may not amount to much. This could be especially troublesome with older homes that are lacking insulation. Before purchasing, be sure to inquire about your potential neighbor’s lifestyle to ensure you make the best decision.
- Lack of privacy: Because you share with another dwelling, you have a severe lack of privacy. This is one of the biggest reasons why this type of home isn’t for everyone. Along with sharing a wall, you’ll also be sharing a driveway and front yard, so you’ll want to be sure you’re on good terms with your neighbors.
- Reduced Curb Appeal: While most semi-detached homes are mirrored, this doesn’t mean that they always have the same exterior. If your neighbor doesn’t have the same exterior, then your curb appeal may drop if you choose to sell someday. This means you might have trouble finding a buyer. Things that may make your home look unappealing are unkempt lawns, clashing door colors, or mismatching roof tiles.
- Repairs and maintenance issues: You would be in luck if you can negotiate with your neighbor regarding maintenance costs. If you’re unable to, this may make things more complicated. If you have repairs that you must tend to that border both homes, you will need to talk to your neighbor as you may need their compliance to get the job done. Another issue is if there are repairs needed on your neighbor’s end of the property that are affecting you, trying to discuss the issue with them may be difficult, especially if they refuse to acknowledge the problem and how it’s affecting you.
3. Multifamily Homes
A multifamily home is a dwelling that is comprised of more than five housing units where more than 1 family can reside, such as an apartment complex. Each unit may have its own main entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and utility meters. The pros to this kind of dwelling are as follows:
- Maintenance convenience: Most multifamily dwellings have maintenance readily available, and at no extra charge. This means that if you live in an apartment complex, you can call the complex office and request service and it’ll usually be done in a timely manner.
- On-site amenities: Most multifamily homes will have amenities within the community, making them much easier to access, and you don’t have to worry about maintaining them since the community will be doing so instead.
- Affordability: The cost is a major factor that motivates apartment tenants to prefer apartment living over single-family homes. Typically, apartments are more affordable compared to single-family homes in the same area. In densely populated urban areas where space is scarce, apartment living is a more practical choice.
Multifamily homes can be very easy to manage, but they have serious downsides as well, such as:
- Lack of privacy: You may experience noise from neighbors and have less personal space compared to a single-family home, especially since you’ll be surrounded by multiple families in one building. You also must be conscious of your own noise if you live on an upper level.
- Limited control over your living environment: Renters in a multifamily home have limited control over the maintenance and appearance of their living spaces, as well as shared common areas.
-Restrictions on modifications: Renters may not be able to make significant changes to the interior of their unit or the building, such as painting or installing new fixtures.
A townhome is a multi-level home with a private entrance, bathroom, and kitchen. It is attached to neighboring homes on two sides, unless located at the end of a building. Townhome residents own and are responsible for both the interior and exterior of their homes. Townhouses typically resemble standalone homes, but they typically function similar to condominiums as they are governed by a larger entity. When purchasing a townhouse, it is likely that one will become a member of a homeowner’s association (HOA). Here are some benefits to living in a townhome:
- Maintenance and upkeep: Living in a townhome means that many of the maintenance and upkeep tasks are handled by the homeowner's association or the building's management, freeing up the residents' time and effort.
- Amenities: Many townhome communities offer shared amenities such as pools, gyms, and parks that residents can access, adding value to their living experience.
- Community: Living in a townhome complex can provide a sense of community and shared experiences with neighbors, as well as a common area for socializing.
Townhomes can be just as convenient as multifamily homes, but they have similar downsides:
- HOA rules and restrictions: By living in an HOA, you must abide by the HOA’s rules and regulations, which can be very restrictive. HOA’s can limit the personal freedom of residents, such as restrictions on exterior home modifications or restrictions on parking or use of common areas.
- Fees: Living in an HOA often requires residents to pay monthly or yearly fees for maintenance and upkeep of shared amenities and common areas. These fees can add up which may not be ideal if you’re looking for a more affordable home.
- Lack of privacy: Since you share a wall, there’s less privacy with a townhome than a detached home, similar to a duplex. This also means you have to worry about the noises coming from your neighbor’s home.
Condominiums, or condos, are buildings comprised of individually owned units. They may resemble apartment buildings in appearance and lifestyle. In a condo, the interior space of the unit is owned by the homeowner who builds equity through mortgage payments. The common areas and amenities, such as lawns and pools, are managed by a homeowner’s association and fees are assessed to homeowners. The interior of each unit is private while shared spaces, such as pools and tennis courts, are used by all residents. Living in a condo has several advantages:
- Managed maintenance: Similar to townhomes, condo ownership relieves some of the stress of the maintenance that comes with homeownership since most things are taken care of by the homeowner’s association.
- Build equity: In a freehold condo, you can build equity in a property. Equity in a condo can be built by making mortgage payments on the unit. By making regular mortgage payments, the homeowner is effectively investing in the property and building their financial stake in it over time.
- Access to amenities: Condos often have open layouts, pools, fitness centers and other amenities and luxuries that you may not otherwise be able to afford. This is especially true if you are buying a brand-new condo.
- Community: Sometimes, living in close proximity is not for everyone, but it does tend to create a feeling of community. Not all condo communities are the same in this regard though, so it’s important to find a condo complex that fits your lifestyle.
Living in a condo also has several drawbacks. These will be similar to the townhome listed above:
- Fees: Homeowners are usually required to pay monthly fees to the homeowner’s association, which can be substantial and add to the overall cost of living.
- Condo association restrictions: Adherence to the homeowners association's regulations may pose a challenge and requires careful consideration. If you prefer autonomy in regards to your home, a condo may not be the ideal option for you.
- Difficult to sell: Selling a condo can sometimes prove to be more challenging than selling a single-family home. HOA regulations, for instance, may deter potential buyers, and affect a buyer's loan eligibility.
Ultimately, finding the right home that aligns with your lifestyle and aspirations can be a difficult task without clear specifications. Consider reviewing these housing options with your real estate agent to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of your desired features.