Sarah Peterson

Published On: December 20, 2020

Before buying a house, it’s important to consider your long-term plan and how it may evolve in the next 5-10 years. That’ll allow you to find a home that will help you reach those goals. 

There are various types of residential properties to choose from – standard single-family homes, condominiums, co-ops, townhouses, multi-family homes, and duplexes.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but the decision ultimately comes down to your homeownership goals, lifestyle, and budget.

Here’s a closer look at the different kinds of residential houses.


Single-Family Home

A traditional, single-family home is the most popular option by far. They are built on a single lot and are not attached to any other houses or units. 

Typically, a single-family home has some sort of outdoor space or land, independent to the surrounding properties.


Single-family homes are more private and often offer sufficient space between houses. There are no shared walls or utilities and often come with a front and backyard.

You will have the freedom to manage and maintain your property (inside and outside) as you wish.  


With that freedom comes more responsibility. This type of house requires constant and consistent maintenance. Plus, the associated costs fall on the homeowner’s shoulders.

It’s important to consider factors like yard, plumbing, electrical, and roofing upkeep. If housework is not your forte, you should consider adding that to your monthly payments when evaluating your budget.



Condos are privately-owned units within a larger shared building or community. They are single-unit homes that will have a common wall or two.

They are more popular in urban areas, like cities and other high-density neighborhoods.  


Condo homeowners reap the financial benefits of owning property without personal responsibility involving maintenance and repairs. These costs are shared by all unit owners.

Most condominium buildings come with a variety of amenities, like a gym, pool, community garden, rooftop, etc.


Because the building as a whole handles the maintenance, there are dues collected either monthly or yearly. These homeowners’ association (HOA) fees should be included in your overall budget.

Your unit is a part of a larger community, meaning there may be some set of restrictions and rules. For example, some condos prohibit pets in the building.



Co-op stands for cooperative housing, meaning you will be a shareholder in the building rather than an individual unit owner. The stake you have typically depended on your unit’s value, but each co-op building may structure the finances differently.

Rather than paying an individual mortgage, you are paying part of the property’s mortgage. Essentially, everyone owns the building together. You are simply purchasing shares that allow you to live there. 


The co-op community as a whole takes on maintenance needs and requirements. The shared upkeep and utilities are split between residents, but your overall payment usually depends on your unit’s value. This can result in lower HOA fees compared to the dues associated with condo complexes. 


Since every resident collectively owns the building, the financial responsibility really falls on your neighbors and yourself. If someone suddenly stops paying, the bank could foreclose on the mortgage of the entire property.  

To help avoid this, there are several in-depth, intense interviews a potential resident will have to go through before getting approved.  



A townhouse is really a combination between a single-family home and a condo. It’s a multi-story home with association fees, shared amenities, and multiple units.

Most have a small outdoor yard or rooftop area. Owners are mostly responsible for maintaining the home and any parcel of land, even though there are association fees. 


Townhouses provide more privacy than condos and co-op communities. They are often more affordable than single-family homes, and some of the HOA fees may cover certain upkeep costs.


Townhouse owners can be responsible for some of the maintenance needs and any repair costs that may accrue. Additionally, there are no shared amenities commonly found with condos and co-ops.   


Multi-Family Homes

Multi-family homes are far less common and share just about everything, from utilities to storage areas. They tend to be larger homes that have been split into two or more units.

The units within the home are usually not fully divided. Some have separate entrances, while others share a common entryway. The rules are not set-in-stone and really vary depending on the situation.    


A multi-family home is a great option for someone looking at investment properties. More units equal more rental income.

Many homeowners decide to live in one of the units and rent out the others. Or you could decide to live elsewhere and simply rent all the units.


Multi-family homes lack the privacy of a single-family home and the amenities that come with a condo or co-op.

Additionally, you will be responsible for all the maintenance and care requirements that come with being both a homeowner and a landlord.



A duplex generally has two units, with separate entrances in a single building. They tend to fall under the multi-family home category. 

Often there is one shared section between each unit, whether it’s a common wall dividing side-by-side units or a floor-to-ceiling dynamic in a two-story building.


Duplex-style homes are also good investment properties. From a homebuyer’s perspective, a duplex can provide you with a place to live, while also adding a rental income component to the equation. You could even rent out both units if possible.

This additional revenue stream can help to pay off your mortgage and prove to be a worthy real estate investment down the road. 


 If you stay in one of the units, you will essentially be living next door to your tenant(s).

Not only is there a lack of privacy, but your tenant could very well come knocking on your door with various requests and complaints. 

Tools for Your Next Big Decision.

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