Appraisers & Home InspectorsConsumer Guides

Single Family Homes

By far the most common form of housing in North America is the single family detached home—ranging from 600 square foot bungalows to 6000 (or more) square foot sprawling mansions. The most important distinguishing factors that determine a single family dwelling are that it sits on its own piece of land (which is sold part and parcel with the home) and it is not attached to anyone else’s residence. With single family homes, your home pretty much is your castle. Subject to neighborhood and subdivision regulations and ordinances, you can do with it as you wish. Want a different exterior color? Usually you can accomplish that (taking into account the fact that the neighbors may not be receptive to a purple house with ecru trim). Need more room and want to add on? Subject to the codes of your jurisdiction, you may be able to expand your living space.

You will probably have a yard of some sort—from “postage stamp” size up through multiple acres, and your ownership will include all of it. In effect, when you buy a single family home your purchase will be of a parcel of land (your lot) on which sits a structure (your house).

Advantages of Single Family Homes
* To a large degree, “your space” is your own. You can modify or improve it as you wish.
* Re-sale value is generally the highest on single family detached homes.
* If you need more room, you can usually add on to the existing house.
* Generally there are no property management fees as there are in condominiums and many townhouses.

Disadvantages of Single Family Homes
* All maintenance and repair costs—interior, exterior and everything in between—are yours.
* Lack of amenities (for example, pools, playgrounds, etc.) that you may find in other types of housing.
* You are responsible for landscaping and lawn upkeep costs.
* In most areas, single family homes are more expensive than townhouses or condominiums.

Is a Single Family Home for You? It is if…
* You like your “space.” The idea of apartment living gives you the willies.
* The prospect of cutting the lawn, trimming the bushes and shoveling snow excite you (or at least don’t send you headed for the nearest bridge.)
* You like the idea of modifying your home—changing the color, the appearance, the size. Having someone tell you that you couldn’t do that would bother you.

This article courtesy of The Home Buyer’s Information Center, a complete guide to buying a home. 2002

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