February 26, 2024

Understanding Property Types: Single-Family Homes, Condos, and More

5 min read
property types

Imagine you have a special kind of property that is something you touch or hold in your hand. These are like certificates for stocks or bonds—they’re just pieces of paper, but they stand for a lot of money. Now, a brand reputation is valuable but not something you can point to or hold. In 2024, navigating the new Real Estate Law by understanding property types, including single-family homes, condos, and more.

Now, let’s talk about another type of intangible property, like creative ideas or the words of a song. Even though you can’t see or touch them, they’re considered valuable. So, intangible property is like having valuables that don’t have a physical form but still mean a lot in money or creativity.

In real estate, we have property types and classes, each serving a distinct purpose. Property classes, labeled as Class A, B, or C, describe investment characteristics, helping investors evaluate quality. However, these ratings aren’t strictly defined, leading to some disagreement.

The broader real estate asset class divides into two main types: commercial and residential. Let’s break down these property types for a clearer understanding.

Residential Real Estate

Residential property is essentially real estate designed for living, encompassing single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and vacation houses. These become investments when not owner-occupied, serving as financial assets through rent or appreciation in value. The ever-evolving landscape of real estate investments and housing reforms shapes opportunities in Residential Real Estate.

Within the residential real estate category, there’s a diverse range of property types. Let’s quickly break down these residential options within the broader real estate asset class.

  • Single-family homes

Single-family homes are designed for one family, ensuring privacy without shared walls or common areas. However, they might be part of a homeowners association (HOA) offering community amenities like a pool and tennis courts.

Co-ops, or housing cooperatives, differ as owners purchase shares in a corporation owning the building. Instead of a mortgage, individuals take out a share loan, receiving a lease for unit occupancy. Like condos, co-ops often entail maintenance fees.

  • Condominiums

Condominiums (condos) are individually owned units with shared access to common areas co-owned by all residents. Association fees cover maintenance and improvements. Shared amenities, like pools and tennis courts, enhance the condo living experience.

  • Townhouses

A townhouse falls within the category of single-family residential properties, characterized by sharing walls with neighboring residences. Unlike condominiums, townhouses lack units above or below, offering a unique living experience. These properties often feature outdoor spaces and enjoy access to neighborhood common areas. 

From a financing standpoint, mortgage options for townhouses align with those for standalone homes, as most mortgage lenders and banks consider townhouses as single-family residences. This recognition ensures that townhouse buyers can avail themselves of mortgage solutions similar to those available for detached homes, providing financial flexibility and homeownership opportunities.

  • Multi-family properties

Multi-family properties, like duplexes, comprise buildings with multiple housing units. They can range from apartments to townhouses. However, if a property has more than four units, it is classified as commercial. While pricier, banks find multi-family properties less risky due to diverse income sources.

Vacation homes, or second homes, serve as seasonal residences like beach houses or ski cabins. These can be single-family homes, condos, or townhouses, and owners often rent them when not in use. Financing for vacation homes is typically more expensive than primary residences.

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate (CRE) constitutes a broad array of property types designed for generating income. Investors explore this sector for lucrative opportunities and sustained financial growth. Let’s explore different property types in Real Estate, with a special look at Commercial Real Estate – where businesses find their homes and investments grow.

  • Multi-family

Multi-family properties accommodate more than one tenant, and if a building has four or more rental units, it’s deemed a commercial property. These properties, ranging from townhouses to condos, apartments, or duplexes, offer diverse residential options. In multi-family real estate investing, property owners often enlist property managers or management companies for day-to-day operations, freeing them from daily upkeep responsibilities. 

This hands-off approach allows owners to focus on strategic investment decisions, making multi-family properties an attractive option for those seeking to diversify their real estate portfolios.

  • Retail

Retail spaces are versatile, ranging from strip malls with 5,000 to over 100,000 square feet, to freestanding buildings like restaurants or gas stations. Commercial centers with renowned stores such as Target or Home Depot, spanning 30,000 to 200,000 square feet, are prominent. Multi-store retail centers, hosting numerous tenants, often attract investors due to their potential for diversified income streams and increased investment appeal. Understanding the dynamics of retail spaces, their sizes, and tenant compositions is crucial for investors looking to navigate the opportunities within this segment of the commercial real estate market.

  • Office

Commercial office properties offer diverse spaces, from single-tenant properties to multi-tenant professional buildings and skyscrapers. Office spaces can be found in cities, suburbs, or rural areas. The attractiveness of commercial office property depends on factors such as location and the condition of the building, whether it’s newly constructed or in need of renovations. Investors evaluating office spaces should consider these elements to make informed decisions and navigate the dynamic landscape of commercial real estate. Understanding the nuances of office properties is crucial for those seeking to explore opportunities within the commercial real estate asset class.


Self-storage facilities, a type of commercial property, rent space to tenants on a month-to-month or long-term basis. These spaces can vary from lockers to rooms, containers, and even outdoor spaces for storing boats or RVs. Despite experiencing a run-up in pricing and demand, self-storage markets continue to grow, offering attractive capitalization rates for investors. From an investment perspective, self-storage facilities provide a unique niche with lower maintenance costs, as tenants are responsible for their own storage units. Investors interested in the commercial real estate space may explore the potential benefits and considerations associated with self-storage properties.

Swimming up property types, single family homes

To sum up, commercial real estate presents a spectrum of income-generating opportunities. Multi-family properties accommodate diverse tenant needs, while retail spaces and offices play vital roles in business landscapes. Self-storage facilities offer a unique niche, responding to the growing demand for storage solutions. Hotels, with their flexible pricing models, add a layer of dynamism. Industrial properties, including manufacturing, storage, and flex spaces, contribute significantly to the economic infrastructure. Embark on a student’s guide to using AI in modern real estate. dive into property types, with a focus on the comfort and charm of single-family homes

Meanwhile, land investments, whether greenfield or brownfield, hold promise for future development. The multifaceted nature of commercial real estate ensures that investors can align their portfolios with a variety of assets, each with its own set of opportunities and considerations.

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