What is a Single-Family Home?

A single-family home is defined as a freestanding residence that shares no common walls with any other structure.

A single-family home is defined as a freestanding residence that shares no common walls with any other structure. The name comes from the fact that single-family homes are houses designed to occupy one family. Traditionally, single-family homes feature larger lots consisting of a front and back yard. Though single-family homes exist everywhere, they’re most commonly associated with suburbs.

Single-family homes are the most common type of housing in America. According to the American Community Survey in 2018, there were 138 million homes nationwide. Of those, 67% were single-family units.

Renting Out a Single-Family Home

Single-family homes are common as a landlord’s first rental unit because they’re typically easier to manage, and are similar to most first-time landlords’ primary residence, which means a property manager may encounter fewer surprises. Financing and mortgage options may already be familiar to the property owner once they take the first steps to become a landlord.

Single-family homes normally consist of just one rental unit, and can include traditionally attractive amenities such as a yard, privacy fence, and garage.

Single-Family Home vs. Multifamily Home

Whereas single-family homes don’t share any walls with other residences, multifamily homes do. Multifamily homes contain separate residential units inside a single structure, and can consist of many rental units. Once a property contains five or more rental units, it’s considered to be commercial real estate. There are many reasons why a property manager may prefer single-family homes over multifamily homes, and one of the biggest is the ability to own the rental unit’s entire structure.

Single-Family Home vs. Condominium

A condominium differs from a single-family home in that it’s a building divided into several units, and each unit is separately owned. Condos normally have common areas that are jointly owned, and owners typically pay a Homeowners Association (HOA) fee to maintain those common areas.

Single-Family Home vs. Apartment

Apartments typically consist of a number of rooms forming a single rental unit, housed within an apartment building full of rental units. This is very different from a single-family home’s freestanding structure normally consisting of a single rental unit.

Single-Family Home vs. Townhouse

A townhouse is typically a tall and skinny property, consisting of multiple floors, that shares one or two walls with other properties that each have their own entrance. The fact that a townhouse’s walls touch other properties makes it very different from a single-family home, which is freestanding and shares exterior walls with no other structures.

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