17 Popular Types of Homes In Real Estate
09/27/2022 Erik Ringerud
Many people want to be homeowners, but not everyone knows what type of house they want or what will suit them best. Especially when you begin your house hunt, you’ll want to be familiar with the terminology of house structures and architecture. Using our extensive list, you can find the perfect blend of both structure and style.
Structural Types of Homes
The structure of the home is mainly the shape and size of the home. Different structures are going to offer different benefits, and depending on how many people live in the home, your preferred lifestyle, and your financial goals, some house types will be more appealing to you than others.
1. Single-Family Home
When someone says, “we’re buying a new house,” most people imagine a single-family home, especially because they make up the majority of homes in the U.S. These houses are different from nearly all others in that they are detached, meaning they share no walls with other living spaces like apartments or townhomes. This offers more privacy and independence, though they aren’t as common in urban settings. They vary in size and style, so different houses will suit different numbers of people and budgets.
- More personalization and freedom
- You usually own the property, both the house and land
- Privacy (and often more space)
- Likely limited to rural areas or suburbs
- Can be expensive to own and maintain (especially for one person)
- More responsibility if you own the property
2. Semi-Detached Home
A semi-detached home is a home type where two “separate” single-family households share a wall. These units usually reflect each other, meaning they have a similar structure and style. Each housing unit includes a separate entrance where the other household does not have access to your home.
- Separate living space, usually more so than townhomes or apartments
- Affordable purchase prices
- Save on maintenance with a shared lot
- Less space and independence than a single-family house
- More noise and less privacy
- Often need to collaborate with neighbors on changes and repairs to preserve curb appeal
Townhomes or townhouses are similar to semi-detached homes, but instead of sharing only one wall, townhomes share a wall on both sides (unless they are an end unit). They usually use more vertical space by having multiple levels while sacrificing horizontal space by being grouped with other units. They each have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. Like apartments or condos, they may share certain amenities such as a pool, park, pavilion, etc.
- Affordable purchasing prices
- Shared amenities
- Less maintenance
- Limited exterior personalizations (HOA restrictions)
- Less privacy and more noise
- Poor resale value when people outgrow the space
Apartments are smaller units that are inside the same building. These units are rented out, so landlords have more responsibility than residents, but residents aren’t building equity since they don’t own anything. Apartment complexes vary in size, so you may have neighbors on all four walls.
- Less responsibility, especially in regards to maintenance and upgrades
- Shared amenities
- Typically more affordable than owning or purchasing a home
- Renters don’t accrue home equity
- Less freedom and personalization
- Little privacy and storage space
5. Condominiums (Condos)
Condos are similar to apartments in that they are most often units that share a building, but instead of one landlord owning and renting out the entire building, residents own their unit. Though you don’t own the land, condos offer community living and minimalist living with some of the benefits of homeownership.
- Owners build equity over time without the strain of a larger single-family home
- Shared amenities
- More affordable prices and insurance
- Ultimately responsible for maintaining and upkeeping the property
- Limited privacy and total freedom with property (HOA restrictions)
- Can be difficult to resell
Architectural Types of Homes
The architecture of your home is more of a reflection of your style and personal preferences. You may prefer something sleek and modern, or you may want something more rustic,and like many people, you may want a home that falls somewhere in-between. Let’s get into the different styles of homes, how they originated, and their best features and highlights.
1. Cape Cod
The Cape Cod style is a well-known and popular option that many associate with American architecture and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, though this style was inspired by homes built by Puritan colonies in the 17th-century. Designed to survive hardy New England winters, these simple but versatile homes can be found all over North America.
- Steep roof with small overhang
- Wood siding
- Central door with symmetrical surrounding windows
2. Victorian Style
Queen Victoria and the Victorian era influenced 19th-century styles, including architecture. Victorian homes use ornate and detailed gothic styles from the Victorian era, as well as the Queen Anne style, which is more folksy. These homes often have turrets or other fun decorative elements, and older Victorian homes may be brightly colored (even with up to 8 different colors).
- Wraparound and/or asymmetrical porches
- Ornate woodwork
- Steep, gabled, and irregularly shaped roofs
- Two to three stories or more
Similar to Cape Cod homes, Colonial homes have a rectangular, symmetrical structure, were built for harsh weather, and even date back to a similar time period. Colonial houses also usually have at least two stories with a grand entryway and a large staircase. These days, we see different cultural influences on the Colonial style, meaning there are Georgian, Dutch, Spanish, English, French, and American variations of Colonial homes.
- Gabled roof with symmetrical slopes
- Decorative crown over the door and supportive pillars
- Formal appearance with central fireplaces
- Main floor is dedicated to living spaces, second floor is dedicated to bedrooms
The ranch style home began appearing in America in the 1930s after World War II but gained popularity in the 1950s. They were designed to be both flexible and affordable, so rooms can be arranged in many different ways. They also tend to have one long story which takes up more horizontal space. Some variations have been popular over the years, such as the California ranch style that is shaped like an “L” or “U” to support backyard activity.
- Long structure with brick, wood, or stucco exterior
- Large windows and sliding doors, often leading to outdoor spaces
- Open floor plan
- Low-pitched roof
Contemporary homes are homes being built now and focus on eco-friendly materials, clean lines, and neutral design palettes. Note that though contemporary and modern architecture are often used interchangeably, “contemporary” captures the current style while “modern” refers to a period that has already passed.
- Simple shapes and design
- Neutral colors (sometimes with a pop of color)
- Natural textures
The Tudor style originated in England during the 15th-century when the House of Tudor reigned in Britain. The style wasn’t brought over to America until the late 1800s; even then, it didn’t become all that popular until the 1920s before World War II. The architecture pulls from Late Medieval and early Renaissance craftsmanship, such as stone masonry, timber framing, and steep gabled roofs, which help create the charming cottage aesthetic. Larger Tudor homes have a more majestic English manor atmosphere.
- Elaborate chimneys on wide, steep, and gabled roofs
- Exposed wood framework on the exterior of the house
- Stone trim and ornate doorways
- Tall windows with rectangular or diamond-shaped panes
If you’re drawn to a cozy, personal, and inviting home, a cottage or cottage-style home is the way to go. Like many homes, this style originated in England, but they were designed to suit working-class farmers. This explains some of the quaint, but charming elements of a cottage. Expect smaller homes, but a lot of personality and taste from this style.
- Wood, whether in shingles or siding
- Small porches and fireplaces
Mediterranean architecture uses Greece, Italy, and Spain as inspiration, especially their beautiful villas. This style usually uses stucco, red clay roofs, and ornate, symmetrical archways to create warm, understated homes. Mediterranean styles also emphasize natural materials, particularly to encourage indoor/outdoor fluidity, which is why these homes are more popular in warmer climates.
- Flat or low-pitched tile roofs (often red clay)
- Natural materials such as wood and stone
- Outdoor living spaces like verandas or balconies
- Large arched windows (often with wrought iron details)
Craftsman homes are a great blend of individuality, detailed furnishings, and careful construction. With an emphasis on handmade and well-designed architecture, Craftsman homes push back on cookie-cutter homes and instead emphasize unique, sturdy structures. They feature bungalow-inspired layouts that can be simple, but tasteful, especially with the added touch of personality or custom-made features.
- Hand-crafted features, especially wood or brick
- Exposed beams and large pillars
- Low-pitched gable roofs
- Customized indoor elements, like a built-in bookshelf
The modern farmhouse style is becoming more and more popular. The most defining elements that pull from traditional farmhouses are tall ceilings, exposed beams, and a large front. Farmhouses also tend to be more rectangular and simple, but with clean, rustic-inspired decor and furnishings.
- Exposed beams, brick, or stone
- Barn-shaped roofs
- Modern appliances and other functions
- Central fireplaces
11. Midcentury Modern
Popularized in the mid-1950s, Midcentury modern homes have a recognizable and unique style, mostly characterized by their large glass windows and open spaces/floor plans. The large windows and general openness are meant to minimize the space between the home and nature. The simple, but irregular shapes of midcentury modern homes create asymmetrical features and angular structures.
- Flat, straight lines that create unique geometric roofs
- Manmade materials such as steel, plywood, and concrete
- Bilevel floor plans with walls of windows
- Both sleek and organic design that emphasizes function
12. French Country
Inspired by the French countryside such as Provence, the French Country style uses rural elements similar to the farmhouse style to create effortless, vintage beauty. These homes have steeply pitched hipped roofs, asymmetrical structures, and round arches for doors and windows.
- Intentionally distressed or weathered features
- Pointed roofs and shutters
- Vintage decor and furniture and warm color palettes
- Exposed wood and use of other natural materials
Find the Best Financing For Your Home
When you find a home that reflects your lifestyle, helps you reach your goals, and most importantly, makes you happy, you want to find the best financing available. Pennymac’s team of experts support you from beginning to end, whether that starts with discovering your housing options or learning about home financing. If you’re ready to get a loan estimate or if you have questions, get in touch with a Pennymac expert today!