What’s a Single Family Home? Here are the Characteristics 

The real estate world has many terms, some of which puzzle even professionals in the industry. This can be especially true when hunting for a new property. The worst part is that it’s easy to get ripped if you don’t properly understand those terms. One such term is “single-family home.”

What is a single-family home, and how does it look like? More importantly, when should you consider a such a home?

A Definition 

A single-family home is an independent residential structure that sits on its own land and is designed for use as a single-family dwelling. It’s primarily defined by one kitchen, unshared walls, and unshared utilities.

A more formal definition from the US Census Bureau is as follows; “A single-family home is a house that may be fully detached, semi-detached, a row house, or a townhouse.”

However, the census bureau clarifies that for an attached dwelling to be considered a single family home, it must be separated from the adjacent property by a ground-to-roof wall. Additionally, the two adjacent properties must not share utilities such as heating and air conditioning.

Main Characteristics of a Single-Family Home 

The easiest way to identify single-family homes from other types of homes is to verify the defining characteristics. The following is a summary of the defining characteristics of a single-family house.

  • No common walls

These homes are stand-alone properties (for lack of a better term). They stand on their own. This means that they don’t share walls with other properties. This is different from detached properties that share walls with adjacent properties.

  • No shared land 

A single-family home is also built on its own parcel of land. This is different from apartments and other property types where multiple homeowners share the land. In a this kind of gome, the land is for the homeowner’s private use.

  • Entrance and exit
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Single-family homes have their own entrance and exit. They don’t share entry and exit points with other residences. For instance, the gate belongs to a single property, and anyone else using it is considered a guest or the entry is deemed an intrusion.

  • Own utilities 

Single-family utilities don’t share utilities with other residences. For instance, a single-family residence doesn’t share the water or electric meter with the adjacent home. If a property shares a meter with the neighbors, it ceases to be a single-family dwelling.

  • A single kitchen 

You’ve likely heard about multi-family units too. The main difference between a single-family home and a multi-family residence is that single-family homes have just one kitchen. Adding a kitchen for the in-laws or guests alters the property’s zoning classification.

  • One owner

Above all, single-family homes are owned by a single-family. A “family” here refers to a persona living alone or a group of two or more people, related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, living together under one roof.

Pros and Cons of Single-Family Homes 

If you’re considering a single-family home, there are several advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind.

Single family home with a lawn and driveway.


The main benefits of a single-family home stem from privacy and land ownership. You can look forward to;

  • More privacy: A single-family dwelling sits on its own piece of land and doesn’t share walls with the neighbors. This means greater privacy for your family. For instance, issues such as noise are non-starters because the neighbors can’t hear you. 
  • More storage space: Although space is never enough, a single-family home provides more space than condos and other home types with shared walls. The majority have room for exterior storage areas, such as sheds, barns, garages, etc.
  • Room for exterior décor: Finally, a single-family home gives you more freedom concerning exterior décor. You can personalize your landscaping without the neighbors asking you to do it a particular way. You can also modify the exterior décor as you wish.
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Despite the many advantages, the above described have a few downsides that you need to consider to make an informed choice.

  • More responsibility: Unlike condos and townhouses that are part of the HOA, which provides a few services, such as general maintenance, a single-family house leaves you on your own. You have to do everything.
  • More costly: The biggest drawback to those homes, however, is cost. A single-family property on a large lot with a big backyard can cost an arm and a leg. Ensure to check housing prices in the desired neighborhood to determine if the prices are within your budget.


Single-family homes can be an excellent investment. They give you greater privacy and more space and freedom for remodels. But, you should check the costs first as single-family units tend to be a tad expensive.


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