A home is a big commitment both of time and of money. Before you purchase one, it’s important to have a good handle on what you’re looking for, as well as what you and the other members of your household may need.
This guide to the various kinds of houses on the market can help you find the right home for your lifestyle and budget.
Residential properties come in a variety of styles. The right one really depends on how much space you need, your budget, and your preferences for upkeep and maintenance.
These are homes situated on a singular, dedicated lot. They have no shared walls, and they often have private front and back yards, and a garage. As the name suggests, they’re intended for use by one family. Single-family homes are a good option for larger households and those who prefer more privacy in their living situation.
Due to their bigger size and lack of other residents, they usually require more upkeep than other types of properties.
These are properties designed for multiple households to share at once. They might be called duplexes, triplexes, or four-plexes, depending on how many units are in the property.
Multi-family homes can be good for buyers with several family members or multiple generations living in the same household. They can also offer buyers a way to make extra money by renting out one or more of the units.
Condominiums, or condos, are individual units within a housing community or building. They’re similar to apartments, though they’re for purchase, rather than for rent. They also typically share a wall with one or more units and are usually governed by a community association, often known as the Homeowners Association (HOA).
Condos are typically options in highly urban areas (like New York or New Jersey, for example). They may be the right fit for buyers who want a private home but without all the upkeep that comes with a yard or full lot. Condo owners often pay a fee to the HOA to maintain those public spaces.
Sometimes condos even come with community amenities, like gyms, pools, and more.
Manufactured homes are properties that are built off-site and then moved onto a lot or piece of land. They’re generally more affordable than single-family homes or condos, though they’re usually smaller in size, too.
Financing a manufactured home is sometimes difficult, and it may be hard to find land, too. Some manufactured homebuyers lease their land in designated mobile or manufactured home communities.
It’s not just the type of home you’ll need to consider, but what’s inside the home, too.
You’ll want to think about:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Kitchen features, like islands, breakfast nooks, dual ovens, and electric or gas stoves
- Extra rooms, like dining rooms, studies, or family rooms
- Garage and driveway type
- Laundry and utility features
- Heating and cooling systems
- Yard and lot size
For example, if you plan to have children one day in the future, you may want more than one or two bedrooms in the home. Consider where you’ll eat your meals, too—if there’s a dining room, you may be more flexible about the size of the kitchen. And while some single-family homes may have space for a washer and dryer, some condos may share a public laundry room with other renters or owners in the complex.
Another thing to consider is the type of material on the floor, countertops, cabinetry, and other areas of the home. Keep in mind: You may be able to change these out with a renovation or remodel once you move in.
Every community is unique, and the one you choose to buy a property in will ultimately play a role in your long-term happiness and well-being.
Depending on where you’re located, you may find one or all of these neighborhood types in your area:
- Urban: These are communities in busy metro areas, often offering easy access to restaurants, cultural hotspots, and public transportation. Properties tend to be smaller in these areas due to the high number of people that may live there. There may be more apartment complexes or condominiums in urban areas, and less single-family homes.
- Cul-de-sac: Cul-de-sac neighborhoods are located in suburban areas and usually consist of single-family homes. They’re a popular choice for families who may want more space to grow.
- Walkable neighborhoods: These are neighborhoods situated close to major cities but along the outskirts. They usually have a lot of restaurants, bars, gyms, and other businesses that residents can walk to, and may also offer access to public transportation.
- Golf course: Golf course communities tend to be more expensive neighborhoods located in or around a golf course or country club. They often require membership fees.
- Retirement: Retirement communities, often for people age 55 and up, are designed for older residents and retirees. They often have a variety of amenities, like a pool or clubhouse, and social activities geared toward the 55-and-older community.
- Rural: These are neighborhoods in more remote locations. Homes in these communities are usually more spaced out and come with larger lots of land, such as a few acres or more.
There are also gated neighborhoods, which are usually located in suburban areas. These have a gate at the front entrance to limit access allowed into the community. These neighborhoods sometimes have full- or part-time security staff, as well.
Finding the Right Home
Finally, when searching for your next home, you’ll need to consider how you’ll go about the home purchase. Will you use a real estate agent to guide the way? While it’s not necessary, it may make the process easier—especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.
If you do use an agent, be sure to interview several realtors first. Someone with experience in the local area, as well as the time and capacity to devote to your home search, can help you find the right house for your lifestyle and budget.