Nicki & Karen

Exploring the Diversity of Housing: A Comprehensive Guide

Nicki and Karen » March 11, 2024

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When you’re in the market to buy a home, you’ll quickly discover many different housing types and architectural styles. Buying a home is a significant investment, so you must know the difference between the types and styles of housing available to you. If you know what you want from a home but need help defining it, this guide should help. The following is a comprehensive overview of the various housing types on the market.

Understanding Structural Types of Homes

From multifamily homes to co-ops, there are many different types of properties you can live in.

Single-Family Homes

Single-family homes are detached and freestanding residential buildings that don’t share walls with other buildings. They provide considerable privacy and more space than most other types. However, you’ll be responsible for maintaining the entire property and paying a high down payment to acquire the home.

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Semi-Detached Homes

A semi-detached home is similar to a single-family property. The main difference is that it shares a common wall with another home. While you have some privacy with this type of home, it doesn’t provide as much freedom as a single-family property. However, the costs are often lower. 

Multifamily Homes

Multifamily homes are residential properties that contain two or more housing units. In most cases, each unit has its own kitchen space, bathroom, and entrance. Living in a multifamily home is often advantageous because you don’t need to spend as much money to maintain the property.


A townhome is a multi-floor property with a kitchen space, bathroom, and entrance. However, townhomes often share multiple walls with neighbors. You’ll discover that this type of housing is more affordable than a single-family home. An HOA may cover maintenance to the home’s exteriors. The main drawback with this property is that you can keep the exterior the same.


Apartments are individual units inside a multifamily building. You can rent an apartment from a landlord. However, you won’t earn equity when you live there. You must also abide by the lease agreement when decorating the apartment. Landlords are often responsible for upgrading the leased unit and making repairs

Condominiums (Condos)

Condominiums are individual units in a building that can look like an apartment. The main difference is that condo owners possess the unit’s interior space. When you purchase a condo, you’ll also be able to build equity, which isn’t possible with an apartment. Common areas are managed by HOAs, meaning they take care of exterior maintenance. The primary drawback to living in a condo is less privacy.


When you buy a co-op, you’ll be investing in the building. In this scenario, you’ll be a shareholder who lives in a unit within the building. The building is owned by a cooperative corporation responsible for performing maintenance. A co-op investment is often more affordable than a condo or single-family home. On the other hand, monthly fees can be high.

Tiny Homes

tiny home can have a floor plan of 60-400 square feet. These homes are prefabricated and available in many different styles. Because of their diminutive size, tiny houses are affordable. However, they offer very little space, making accommodating family growth challenging.

Manufactured Homes

A manufactured home is built in a factory and can be installed temporarily or permanently. Because they are affordable, these mobile homes are relatively easy to finance. However, the value of a manufactured home increases little, which means that you likely won’t make a profit if you eventually sell one.

Exploring Architectural Styles of Homes

Well, over a dozen architectural styles are popular in modern homes. Each style has its distinct features.

Ranch Style

Ranch-style homes first appeared in the early 20th century but became popular in the 1950s. They are often single-story and have low-pitched roofs, sliding glass doors, open living spaces, large backyards, and garages

Cape Cod Style

The Cape Cod style had existed since the 18th century when it was most commonly found in Massachusetts. This style accommodates the bitter New England winters, so Cape Cod homes have roof shingles, wood siding, and a central door.

Colonial Style

Colonial homes have rectangular and symmetrical structures. They are often two stories tall and can be outfitted with a central stairway and spacious entryway.

Victorian Style

The Victorian architectural style became popular in the early 19th century because of its more ornate characteristics. Victorian homes can be two or three stories high. The main features of a Victorian-style home include steep gable roofs, small towers, bay windows, and porches

Tudor Style

The Tudor style was introduced to the U.S. in the final years of the 19th century, but it didn’t become popular until the 1920s. This style consists of Medieval elements, including timber framing, gable roofs, and stone masonry. It has an asymmetrical design.

Mediterranean Style

Mediterranean homes have features and characteristics similar to those of Italian and Spanish villas. They have a more open design that facilitates outdoor and indoor living, so this style is most prevalent in places like Florida and California. Along with tiled roofs, these homes feature stone and wood elements and white stucco walls.

Modern Farmhouse Style

The modern farmhouse style is updated to the traditional one, offering a more contemporary feeling. These homes have tall ceilings, spacious front porches, and exposed beams. The style combines clean lines with a rustic farmhouse aesthetic.

Contemporary Style

The contemporary style involves anything popular when the property is built. Today, contemporary homes are often made with Eco-friendly materials and natural textures. While some color is used in the interior, the rest of the structure usually has a neutral palette. 

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Prairie Style

The prairie architectural style began in the Victorian era. Younger architects wanted to make something more suitable for American buildings. The main features of a prairie-style home include natural woodwork, an open floor plan, and cantilevered roofs.

Midcentury Modern Style

This modern architectural style is notable because of its open spaces, straight lines, and large glass windows. It’s a simplistic style that doesn’t include any ornate details. These homes are often made with plywood, concrete, and steel.

Split-Level Style

Split-level homes share characteristics with ranch-style properties. This type of home entirely separates living spaces by flights of stairs. A large portion of the house is situated in the basement.

Cottage Style

The cottage style first became popular with working-class farmers. These properties usually have less square footage but a cozier, more comfortable atmosphere. They come with wood shingle siding, fireplaces, and small porches.

French Country Style

The French country style was designed to emulate the types of homes found in Provence and other French countryside locations. These homes are usually made with stone and pointed roofs. They have a more weathered appearance that’s accompanied by worn colors. This architectural style is often paired with vintage furniture. 

Bungalow Style

The bungalow’s architectural style includes much living space on the main floor and a fireplace. These homes also include squared or tapered columns that support the roof. There are many styles of bungalow homes, from the Michigan style to the California one. Stone elements and large porches are standard features in bungalow homes.

Craftsman Style

Craftsman-style homes feature handmade architecture, exposed beams, tapered columns, and low-pitched roofs. Window seats and built-in bookshelves are often placed in the interiors. This architectural style offers more natural and earthy tones.

Comparing and Contrasting Structural and Architectural Styles

You can streamline home-buying by comparing and contrasting structural and architectural styles. Each type of home has a selection of styles it can be built in. For example, ranch-style homes are often single-family properties with just one floor. Apartment buildings and multifamily homes usually have more traditional architectural styles that don’t include any ornate features. Manufactured homes can be made in many different architectural styles. 

When searching for the best combination, identify the key features that matter most to you. Look for these features as you conduct your search. Your preferences in architectural and structural styles align with your lifestyle and goals. If you have a more laid-back lifestyle, you might enjoy living in a cottage-style or prairie-style home.

Choosing the Right Housing Type for You

Reflect on your preferences and lifestyle needs to ensure you choose the right housing type for yourself and your family. If you don’t require a lot of space, an apartment or tiny home might be the perfect option. 

When weighing your options, consider location, budget, and plans to make the right decision. You can determine the best fit by consulting with a real estate agent knowledgeable about the area you’re most interested in. Make sure you also explore financing options and homeownership opportunities.


Understanding the many housing types is crucial to ensure you don’t make a costly mistake when buying your next home. When narrowing your options, consider everything from your budget to the property’s location to determine which house you should buy. Explore this guide’s housing types and styles to define your ideal home more effectively. 

From single-family homes to condominiums, the real estate market offers flexibility and diversity with its housing options. Whether you’re looking for a place with ample open space or a home that has a more rustic and traditional vibe, the market can accommodate your preferences.

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