If you’re searching for a new home, it helps to be familiar with the different house types and styles. Once you know what you’re looking for, your real estate professional can find the perfect fit. Learn more about the types of homes on the market as well as the features and history of popular home styles.
What Are The Different Types of Houses?
To decide which types of houses might fit your lifestyle, read through the list of home types below. Think about what’s important to you. For example, do you want the privacy of a single-family home? Would you enjoy having someone else take care of exterior maintenance? Do you need a lot of storage space?
Single Family Home
When it comes to types of homes to buy, single family homes are very popular. Detached from all neighboring homes, they sit on their own property and typically offer a good deal of privacy. Families often purchase this style of home because there’s more square footage and land. Single family homes are popular in the suburbs and rural areas.
More affordable than single-family homes, condominium buildings – condos for short – contain several home units, or private spaces similar to apartments. With condominiums, you own the title to your unit, but all land and amenities (such as a pool or workout facilities) are communal. A homeowner’s association (HOA) maintains them. Condos are great if you’d like to avoid chores like lawn care and snow shoveling.
Townhouses (or townhomes) are typically built in rows or clusters, so they share at least one wall. They’re designed like multi-story, single-family homes, often with front lawns or backyards. Unlike condos, you’ll be responsible for anything that’s considered part of your residence. This might include fixing a shutter, painting your front door, or mowing your lawn. HOA fees are usually lower than condos. They pay for amenities as well as trash and snow removal.
This is an umbrella term that describes different types of houses containing separate housing units. For example, single family homes with an in-law suite, duplexes, or apartment buildings are all types of multifamily homes. If you’d like to invest in real estate, a multifamily home might be the right choice. For example, you could purchase a duplex, live on one side, and rent the other for additional income.
Apartments contain several units within a landlord-owned building. They’re similar to condos, except you don’t own the living space, but rather rent it out for a set period (typically for a year). Apartments are great if you’re looking for a temporary living situation. For example, when you want to explore a new city before deciding where to buy a home.
As its name suggests, split levels, once popular in 1950s suburban America, have a staggered floor plan. In these homes, you’ll use half-stairways to get between the main floor and upstairs bedrooms and the basement. Steps lead to the front door instead of level ground. While this can be prohibitive for elderly or differently-abled visitors or homeowners, split levels do offer privacy between floors for residents. They’re often affordable, making them good starter homes, but also resell for a lower price compared to other homes of similar age and square footage.
Carriage or Coach House
Used interchangeably, a carriage or coach once housed – you guessed it – horse-drawn carriages. The structures are separate from the main house and often combine a garage with living quarters above it. If your property has one, you might use them as rental units, in-law suites, guest housing, home offices, or even separate, smaller homes. Aesthetically similar to the main house, you’ll find these sweet, cottage-like dwellings throughout the US, especially in historic homes in many southern cities, like New Orleans and Savannah, as well as centuries-old homes right here in the Tri-State area.
Tiny homes are all the rage! Between 100 to 400 square feet, they’re more of a lifestyle choice than a real estate preference. Minimalists and travel enthusiasts enjoy owning these tiny homes, which can be stationary or on wheels. They’re also cheaper than a traditional home in many ways: energy costs, maintenance, and property tax, to name a few. If you like tiny living, these homes will be the right fit!
Most Popular House Styles
Once you’ve figured out the kind of house you’d like, let’s consider which types of house styles would work for you. What are your needs – current and future? Are you downsizing into a small bungalow or cape cod? Are you growing your family into a Victorian? Or perhaps you’d like to retire and age-in-place in a ranch home. Learn more about the most popular architectural styles below.
First popular in California and built in the US between 1905 – 1930, bungalows have one or one-and-a-half-stories with small, cozy interiors, large covered porches, and dormers built into their design. They come in several styles (California, Michigan, Chicago, to name a few) that feature low eaves with exposed rafters, a centrally located living room, and lots of built-in cabinetry, especially around a large fireplace. The half-story is typically four feet high and can serve as a guest room or office. They’re great for those who want a smaller space with one-floor easy living.
When you think of charming Americana, Cape Cods come to mind with white picket fences and small overhangs over steep roofs. These classic cottages first appeared in Cape Cod, MA in the 1600s and are still popular in New England today. Like bungalows, they have one or one-and-a-half stories. They’re asymmetrical in appearance with a central door, multi-paned windows, shutters (often just for show), and if you’re lucky, hardwood flooring.
If geometric symmetry appeals to you, a Colonial might be just right with its rectangular shape and evenly proportioned, square windows. These homes are popular all across the US, originating in the 13 colonies. Typically made of brick or wood, colonials have a steep roof, large chimney, and grand entrances for two-story living with decorative porticos. If you’re looking for privacy from a closed floor plan these houses fit the bill with a long entrance hallway with rooms off to each side.
These understated houses started replacing the popularity of ornate Victorian homes in California around the late 1800s – early 1900s. In the interior of the Craftsman home, you’ll find tailor-made woodwork, stone accents, and built-in shelving. Window seats and little nooks throughout make great cozy spots for reading or daydreaming, and the fireplace’s hand-crafted details might make it your favorite gathering place. Craftsman exteriors are typically painted in muted neutral tones with a low-pitched roof, patterned window panes, and a covered front porch.
Want the feel of the Mediterranean? You’ll enjoy this style of home. Popular in warmer climates like California and Florida, Mediterranean homes have Spanish and Italian influences – stucco walls and low sloped red tile roofs. Modern Mediterranean houses boast great indoor and outdoor living spaces with an open floor plan. However, some of the older versions (they became popular in the roaring ’20s) can have a haphazard look from additions, which are easy to install in this type of house. These homes are great for minimalists as they typically don’t have a lot of cabinet space.
Nature lovers will enjoy mid-century modern homes. Designed with form and function in mind, these homes bring nature inside with walls of glass, floor-to-ceiling windows, and natural building materials. They look boxy from the outside with low, flat roofs, and inside have open concept floor plans. In the 50s and 60s these bright, airy homes were popular throughout the US. These homes are great if you like to entertain or focus on family-time – but if privacy is what you’re seeking, these homes might not be for you.
On the rise in popularity throughout the US since Chip and Joanna Gaines featured them on their HGTV show, “Fixer Upper,” the modern farmhouse is a mix of clean lines and industrial finishes. These homes typically have classic white exteriors with a black or grey roof. There are ample windows to let in natural light, and a big, covered porch to enjoy in the evenings. Interiors might feature shiplap walls, reclaimed wood throughout, Edison bulbs, and brass fixtures. If you love shabby chic, a modern farmhouse may be just what you’re looking for.
Ranch homes – with single floor living – offer accessible living spaces across all phases of life. Owners love the open floor plan and attached garage. First popular in California in the 1930s, retirees, first-time buyers, and small families enjoy ranch style homes. Laundry on the main floor, anyone?
From 1910 – 1940, wealthy, suburban living helped the rise of the Tudor style throughout the US – especially in the north. Typically made of brick, Tudors have steep roofs with varying sized gables, a decorative chimney pot, and tall, narrow, multi-paned windows. Arched stone doorways welcome you home. While this style fell out of favor after WWII, it’s perfect if you’re looking for a historic house with lots of character and charm.
When you think of a haunted house, the Victorian style comes to mind. But don’t let that stop you – these homes are quite ornate and beautiful. Outside you’ll find irregularly-shaped steeply pitched roofs and asymmetrical porches that extend around the front of the house. The exterior often has fun colors like lavender and pink (and sometimes up to eight different colors!). Inside, they have high ceilings and small rooms divided by deep archways. Popular during Queen Victoria’s rule, you’ll find these homes throughout the US.
Whether you prefer something ornate or something more simple, one story or three, knowing more about popular types of houses helps you figure out your preferences. And once you know those, you can narrow down your search for your dream home in no time. Contact us to find the right fit today!