When home buyers begin their search for a house, some might be overwhelmed by the types of homes they can choose from.
There are dozens—if not more—of names real estate agents use when describing a home.
The good news is that potential home buyers need only concentrate on a small number of homes that encompass many architectural styles.
When home buyers begin their search they should be familiar with these types of homes:
- Single-family homes
- Cooperative Apartments
Below we explain the distinctions between the different types of homes.
Detached Single-Family Homes
The name of this type of home says it all. By definition, a single-family home is a one where one family lives. It also happens to be the most common type of home, meaning that there are numerous architectural styles. A single-family home can be a cottage, ranch, cabin, colonial, and many more.
By taking a brief stroll through any neighborhood, you can familiarize yourself with the most important characteristic of a single-family home. These homes are detached from other homes, unlike townhouses, and sit on their own property. These types of homes normally have:
- A front and back lawn
- A garage
- A driveway
More commonly called condos, condominiums are a type of residence where many units exist in a building. Condos are smaller than single-family homes and similar to townhouses in that owners live in close proximity to their neighbors.
Condos became popular in the 1970s and are commonly found in large urban areas. While condos are similar to an apartment, there are striking differences. The major difference is an apartment complex is owned by an individual or corporation that rents units. In a condominium complex, however, each unit is owned by one person.
More specifically, homeowners who purchase a condo own the space within their unit, meaning the literal space from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Other areas such as hallways, entryways, and laundry rooms are jointly owned by everyone in the complex. In addition, there is normally a governing association that sets residential guidelines.
According to Ilyce Glink, author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask”, an apartment becomes a condominium through a condominium declaration. This legal document divides the percentage of ownerships, defines what areas are owned by all owners, and determines maintenance.
Better known as co-ops, this type of home is similar to condos in many ways. When a person buys a condo they purchase the unit. However, in a co-op the buyer doesn’t actually own the apartment. Instead, co-op residents own shares of a corporation that owns the building and land. The amount of shares a person owns depends on the size of unit. In other words, the larger the home the more shares a person owns.
How does a co-op function? A co-op is managed by a board of residents who live in a co-op. But co-ops aren’t for everyone—literally. A key difference from other types of homeownership is that cooperatives can, and do, screen potential buyers.
A townhouse, also known as a row house, is a residence that is attached to other similar properties. Typically these resemble narrow buildings lined next to each other and are found in high-density areas. A townhouse will share a wall with each neighbor. Townhouses, however, differ from condos. Still, it should be noted that many modern townhouses are built as condos.