Purchasing a home is a huge decision. However, sometimes the toughest decision to make is which type of residential home to buy. From single-family homes to condominiums, there are many choices for potential homebuyers. Before you to start shopping, explore the different types of residential homes and decide which one is right for you.

1. Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes are the most popular type of home in the United States, according to The Washington Post. They are single houses on a lot and do not share walls with any neighboring homes. When you purchase a single-family home, you also own the property that the house is built on. The majority of single-family homes typically have:

  • A front, back and side yard
  • Garage (detached or attached)
  • Driveway

Privacy is one of the main reasons why house hunters choose to buy a single-family home. Another benefit to owning a single-family home is the ability to express yourself, especially if your neighborhood does not have a homeowner’s association (HOA). When you own a single-family home, you have a great deal of control over the exterior of your home, including the landscaping, paint colors, and other improvements.

2. Condominiums

Condominiums, or condos, are single-residential units housed in a larger building. When you purchase a condo, you’re buying paint to paint. Similar to apartments, condos share at least one wall with other units. Depending on where your condo is located in the building, you may have another unit above, below and/or on either side of you.

Condominium layouts vary from building to building. Some condo buildings contain multiple floors, but only have one unit per floor, while other buildings have several units on one floor.

Condo owners typically have HOA dues. These dues cover the maintenance of the building, landscaping and common property, such as pools and gyms. The limited responsibility and upkeep is one of the advantages of purchasing a condo. For example, if the community pool needs to be repaired, you’re not on the hook for the total cost. Your HOA dues, as well as your fellow neighbors’ contributions, help cover the expense.

A condominium at K. Hovnanian’s® Four Seasons at Kent Island

From time to time, your HOA may charge all property owners a one-time assessment fee. These one-time fees cover expenses beyond normal maintenance. For instance, if the building’s roof needs to replaced, the HOA may issue a one-time fee to cover that expense.

House hunters can find luxury, high-rise condos in urban areas or spectacular condos with residential architecture in suburban areas.

3. Townhomes

For those looking for a convenient and low-maintenance lifestyle, a townhome is an excellent option. Townhomes are a cross between a single-family home and a condo. Like condominiums, townhomes share walls with the adjacent properties, but they don’t have homes below or above them. They are typically two- or three-stories tall.

Townhomes can be found in age-restricted communities and residential communities. First-time homebuyers and young families often purchase townhomes in residential communities. Most townhomes have a clubhouse and may have another, smaller type of amenity, such as a playground.

Most of the new-construction townhomes in age-restricted communities have resort-style amenities like tennis courts and private gyms.

Our townhomes at The Residences at Columbia Park, in Morris Township, New Jersey.

Types of Ownership

With townhomes, there are two types of ownership: fee-simple and condominium. Fee-simple ownership is when you own your home and your front, back and possibly a side yard. Homeowners are responsible for the upkeep of these areas.

With condominium ownership, you only own the townhome. The building, the roof, windows and yards (i.e. front, back and side) are community property. The HOA covers the upkeep of these areas.

When you are house-hunting, inquire about the type of ownership available within the community.

4. Multi-Generational Homes

Multi-generational homes, houses that are designed to accommodate multiple family generations, are less common than the other types of residences. However, they are growing in popularity across the country due to economic issues and an aging population.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 64 million people in the U.S. live in a multigenerational household. Millennials are often moving back in with their parents after college because of student debt. There are also a number of mature adults moving in with their adult children due to health issues.  

Multi-generational homes can be a single-family home with an in-law suite. Another popular design option is a townhome or single-family home with dual master suites on the first and second floor. Multi-generational homes typically have one common entrance, but there may be other entrances. They also may have a kitchenette in the adjacent suite, but all family members share the kitchen. These options give family members their privacy, while still allowing them to share the same roof.

When it comes to purchasing a house, there is no right or wrong answer. The type of residential home you buy should reflect your lifestyle and your unique needs. Perhaps that is single-family home or maybe that’s a townhome. Either way, you’ll be building a lifetime of memories within it.