Types of Residential Buildings

Condo residents often have a board to manage condo fees and maintenance decisions.
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While many people dream of a big house with a white picket fence, you actually have a wide array of places to live. Residential buildings range from the common single-family home to large apartment complexes. Typically, lifestyle, location preferences and financial situation affect your choice of the right type of residential building for you.

Single-Family Home

A single-family home is your typical private property residence. You can buy a house or be a tenant of the owner. If you buy the house, you own the building and the land it sits on and can pretty much do what you want with your property as long as you don't violate city, state or countyordinances or laws. However, some single-family homes are in subdivisions that have their own homeowners association and set of rules.


A duplex is a common multiple residence building that has two separate residences. In some cases, people buy one side of a duplex property just as they would a house. Often though, investors buy duplexes to earn rental income. As a rental resident, you get the benefits of living on a property with a small number of residents, but you don't have to get a mortgage or make a down payment.

Apartment Building

There are a number of apartment buildings of varying sizes and resident populations. Triplexes and four-unit buildings are fairly common in many communities. Large buildings may have any number of residential units, and many apartment communities have a number of buildings.


A condominium is similar to an apartment, but you actually buy your condo, which is a share of the building. Some condo buildings have several floors with separate owners each living on one floor of the building. Other condos have multiple units on each floor. A board of directors oversees the rules for the condo complex. Individual condo units may also be "detached," which means they stand alone, much like a single family home. Others are connected -- some condos share common exterior walls.


A townhouse is similar to a condo in that each residence is attached to adjacent residences. However, townhouses are purchased as individual properties like a single-family home. Each homeowner pays property taxes and home repairs on his own property. There are sometimes common areas in the building, or in outside areas like pools or tennis courts.

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