When you are clicking through real estate web sites, real estate magazines, flyers and other ad mediums looking for Montgomery County homes for sale, I am sure you have come across many different styles of homes. Single family, town house, row home, twin home, carriage home, condominium, etc. You may have even come across town homes listed as condos, or even single homes as a condo. So what exactly is the difference?
To start understanding the difference, we need to first understand how real estate is owned. Most properties are owned fee simple meaning that you own the property, the land beneath, the air above (with some restrictions), and dwellings upon it, both the interior and exterior. However, a condominium is not a style of house, more it is a type of ownership. A condominium, or condo for short, is a property where the owner only owns the interior of the unit, regardless of whether it is a town home, row home, carriage home, flat or single home. The land beneath, the front yard, rear yard, exterior of the dwelling, and other improvements are owned collectively by the unit owners within the condominium development. The unit owner then pays a fee for the upkeep and maintenance of the “common elements”. Typically, there is wither a written maintenance agreement or an outside management company that oversees the common elements of the condominium.
Now, a single family home is not necessarily a single home. The term “single family” means just that, it is designed for one family to use and enjoy the property as a whole. Again, this can be a town home, row home, a flat, or a single home. It just means that it is not designed to house more than one family such as a duplex, triplex, or quadruplex. These are referred to as multi family homes.
So now we know that a condo can be any style of home, and a single family home is one that is not a multi-family home. But what about the difference between a town home and a row home? Actually, these are very similar and often the terms are misused in advertising of a property. However, a row home typically is defined as a group of homes, built in a row of 4 or more, that are adjoined by sharing a common wall, all with similar front facade designs. Typically, the buildings are built with the front of the dwellings lined up together along the front property line.
A town house, is very similar in that it is a group of houses, joined by a common wall, however, they are typically not “uniform” as far as the front facade. Many will have garages in the front of the homes, and the front of the property will be offset from the neighboring property as indicated in the photo.
So if a row home and a town home are typically built in clusters of 4, and a side-by side home is called a twin home, what is a group of 3 homes called? This is relatively new to the market place, but we refer to this style as a carriage home. Originally, the carriage home was an outbuilding built to house the horse-drawn carriage on a farm. The modern definition is typically a large elaborate home, built in clusters of 3 with garages attached.
So now that you are well versed in the styles of homes available, which one will suit your needs?