What Is a Single-Family Home?

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In the real estate world, you will likely come across a variety of terms. You are familiar with apartments, condos, and luxury homes – but one phrase that often comes across in listings is “single-family home.” What exactly does it mean, and how is this type of home different from other homes? Keep on reading to find out the answer. 

What Are Single-Family Homes?

Single-family homes, as the name suggests, are properties meant to house a single family. These homes are freestanding, sitting on their own piece of property, independent from other residences. They share no utilities and have no shared amenities or walls with other properties. To put it simply, single-family homes are those we see surrounded by a fence, where no ownership is shared. A family living in a three-bedroom house with one kitchen, with their own backyard and surrounding plot can be referred to as a single-family home. However, if the units are attached by a wall (i.e., the main structure downstairs and two apartments upstairs), that building is considered to be a multi-family home. There are certain exceptions when a dwelling attached to another dwelling is considered a single-family home. First, the unit must have a ground-to-roof wall between them, with no door, separating the families. Secondly, they need to have separate utilities, AC, and heating systems. Thirdly, they should not have any other units located below or above.

Advantages of Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes bring a few advantages to homeowners, which is why so many people opt for this type of house. Here are the benefits that you may enjoy. 

More Space

Single-family homes often sit on their own parcel of land. This means that you will have more space for exterior storage, such as a shed, a barn, or a garage. They are also often more spacious compared to multi-family dwellings.

More Privacy

When you live in a multi-family home, you share walls with your neighbors – which means that they will likely hear you if you make a lot of noise. When you live in a single-family home, you don’t share any walls with your neighbors – so, you will get more privacy. You will not be heard by your neighbors, even if things get a bit noisier, and you will not be bothered by them either.

More Options for Exterior

When you live in an apartment or a multi-family home, there is not much you can do with the exterior. You can’t expand and you can’t repaint, mainly because it is not your property to do so. However, if you have a single-family home, you can modify the landscape to fit your style and aesthetics.

Disadvantages of Single-Family Homes

Just like there are certain advantages to getting a single-family home, here are also a few downsides. These may include the following aspects. 

High Prices

Single-family homes tend to be more expensive compared to apartments and multi-family homes. Plus, if you buy a home that has a lot of land, the price point can go even higher. If you are renting, you can use a rent estimator to find a house that fits your budget, but overall, the costs will still be higher. 

More Responsibility

If you live in a complex or multi-family home, the chances are that you will be provided basic services by the homeowners association (HOA), at least when it comes to the outdoor area. However, if you buy a single-family home, you will have to take on those chores by yourself, increasing your responsibilities.

Less Income Potential

Many people purchase multi-family homes so that they can get some extra income. For instance, they may live in the main residential area upstairs and rent out the apartment downstairs. When you only have a single-family home, you will not be able to do that – therefore, this will reduce your home’s potential for gains.

Who Should Buy a Single-Family Home?

Single-family homes are best for families wanting a bit of privacy. For example, if you have a family with children, you may prefer such a home, as it gives you the yard space for the kids to play. Still, it is the better option for those who have extra cash to spend. It is also a great alternative for individuals who have the time and potential physical condition to take care of the home and garden by themselves. However, if you want to rent out part of the property, you might be better off with a multi-family residence. This way, you won’t be the only person taking care of the chores. 

The Bottom Line

Single-family homes represent the most popular choice among people who want more privacy and extra space. They may be slightly more expensive, and the maintenance may be higher, but they still represent the picture-perfect home for many people.


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