Buyers April 18, 2024

What to Know About Different Types of Properties

Before buying a home, it’s helpful to know more about the different types of properties available. Some types are better suited for your lifestyle, depending on your goals and finances.

When people envision buying a house, they often think of a single-family home. This is a stand-alone structure where a single family lives, hence the name. But there are many other types of homes available, including condos, townhouses, duplexes, and multi-family homes. Each of these types of properties has its own unique characteristics. It’s best to consider and evaluate all options before starting your home-buying journey.

What is a single-family home?

Buying a single-family home is often associated with the American dream and success. While single-family homes usually provide more freedom and privacy, they are also more expensive. As a buyer, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to personalize your home and make renovations. Then again, house projects aren’t for everyone, so you may prefer purchasing a home that is move-in ready. A great benefit of buying a single-family home is that there are no shared walls. Plus, many single-family homes offer private outdoor spaces. For some home buyers, this is worth the extra cost. For others, they don’t want the upkeep. Some single-family homes are part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) with fees, requirements, and expectations. Some HOAs may offer amenities like a neighborhood park or events such as block parties. While some HOAs are strict about lawn and home exterior maintenance, others aren’t. Therefore, it’s important to inquire further if looking at a home that’s part of an HOA.

If you do decide to move forward with purchasing a single-family home, one architectural style to consider is a rambler house. Ramblers are known for their spacious interiors, one-story designs, and welcoming layouts. For those looking to age in place, ramblers can be ideal. No one will have to worry about navigating stairs, and you can enjoy an open floor plan with a central living space and an attached garage.

What is a townhouse?

Typically, townhouses are narrow, multilevel structures with a small yard in the front or back. Townhouses are similar to row houses in that they are built in a row. However, townhouses often have varying architectural designs and roof lines despite being built in a group with shared walls on the sides. Meanwhile, row houses all share a common façade.

For some home buyers, a townhouse may be the perfect fit. Many are more modern and often cost less than single-family houses. Like a single-family house, owners are responsible for exterior and interior maintenance and repair. Also, townhouses usually have Homeowner’s Association (HOA) fees similar to a condominium. However, these fees are usually much less expensive because the focus is on caring for shared areas instead of providing high-quality amenities.

What is a condominium?

Condominiums are divided, individually owned units in a much larger structure. Many look like high-end apartments since they are smaller sized and don’t include land ownership. This can be an attractive option since condominiums are often less expensive. Plus, owners are only responsible for maintaining the inside of their unit.

However, condominiums are unique in that all the residents who live there share the costs of the rest of the building. These costs are covered through monthly HOA fees that can be quite expensive depending on the number of amenities. For example, HOA fees cover the costs of insurance and usual outdoor maintenance. But if the condominium building has a pool, gym, or barbeque pit, then these things are also covered by the HOA fees and drive up monthly costs. On one hand, it’s great because you don’t have to worry about a lot of maintenance. On the other hand, you may not feel the benefits outweigh the increased cost. If you are purchasing a condominium, make sure you research the HOA fees. This includes who oversees managing disbursement, and how often fees are raised.

While not as common, some neighborhoods consist of single-family homes or duplexes that are, on paper, just like condominiums. These neighborhoods often have shared common clubhouses that feature amenities often found in typical condominiums, such as pools, gyms, or other shared perks. These neighborhoods also require HOA fees to cover the costs of these amenities.

What is a multi-family home?

A multi-family home is a broad term that encompasses all dwellings that house more than one family. So this includes everything from a duplex, to a townhouse, to a condominium, to a multi-unit apartment building. If you are thinking about purchasing property as a place to live and as a rental property, you may want to consider buying a duplex or multi-unit apartment building. This will allow you to live on-site and also rent other available units. While this sounds attractive financially, becoming a landlord is a lot of work and a big responsibility. Windermere does offer property management services.

Next Steps

After reviewing the different types of properties and deciding which one is best for you, a Windermere Poulsbo real estate agent can help you get started. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or considering downsizing, a local expert can find the best home and community for you. They can also answer any questions you have about getting a home loan and discuss the new Washington State real estate law changes.