The Smart About Money website will be retiring on July 31, 2021. Learn more about this decision.


5: Make Your Housing Plan — Own

Make Your Own Housing Plan

Essentially, homeownership is about responsibility. When you own a home, you are responsible for the upkeep, homeowners insurance, property taxes, utility payments — and most importantly — the mortgage. Your responsibilities can vary, however, based on the type of home you purchase.

Types of Homes

A home is a major purchase, no matter what its floor plan or style. With the challenges presented in the current home market, it’s wise to look for homes in different sizes and types, including nontraditional homes. 

  • This probably is what most people consider when they think of houses. It is a free-standing residence, usually occupied by one family.
  • Resale values typically are higher than other housing types.
  • Advantages
    • Outside spaces belong to you, providing room to grow a garden or enjoy outdoor hobbies.
    • The freedom to do as you please, unless there is a homeowners association
    • Privacy
  • Disadvantages
    • Recreational amenities may be part of a planned homeowners association, but are not typically part of an individual homeowner’s property.
    • All property taxes, insurance and costs related to maintenance and repair belong to the homeowner.
    • Some communities are part of a homeowners association, so CC&Rs may apply.
  • Townhomes are usually multilevel units, attached by walls to other units. Each has its own door to the outside.
  • Advantages
    • Low maintenance on common property if an association takes care of it
    • Property values can be kept higher because the association ensures upkeep and uniformity
    • Prices tend to be lower than single-family homes.
  • Disadvantages
    • Proximity to neighbors
    • Shared walls
    • CC&Rs enforced to protect, maintain and enhance property values) can be restrictive
    • Violating association CC&Rs can be costly.
  • Condos (and co-ops) are similar to apartments, except that each unit is individually owned rather than rented.
  • Advantages
    • You own the space within the walls, which can lower insurance needs compared to a single-family home.
    • Low maintenance on communal property since it is done by an association manager.
    • Can be cheaper to own than a single-family home, but still provides a sense of ownership.
  • Disadvantages
    • Allows for ownership in areas where property values for single-family homes are particularly high.
    • Security may be enhanced, as well as amenities like pools, tennis courts, gyms, etc.
    • The CC&Rs can be restrictive.
    • Violating association CC&Rs can be costly.
    • Annual fees can increase based on majority vote.
    • Special fees or assessments can be levied.
    • Privacy
  • This type of housing only comes in pairs. Depending on the region, they also are called patio homes or duplexes. Each unit is occupied by a single family. 
  • Advantages
    • From a buying perspective, usually lower-priced than a similar detached single-family home.
    • If part of an association, some maintenance (lawn, snow removal, painting, etc.) may be responsibility of association.
  • Disadvantages
    • Privacy from neighbors
    • Smaller yards
    • If an association exists, CC&Rs can be restrictive.
  • These single-family homes can be prefabricated and transported to the site for the home or built on-site. Although they can be moved, most are situated on a permanent site.
  • Advantages
    • The cost to construct the home generally is lower than a single-family home.
    • Energy efficiencies can be achieved in newer manufactured homes.
    • Some newer communities offer gated entry with associations that take care of maintaining common areas.
  • Disadvantages
    • Purchasing the site and making improvements to it for the home is an additional cost.
    • Can’t be customized with respect to floor plans or blueprints
    • Quality of materials used in building may be less than other types of homes
    • Long-term value generally does not increase as much as other types of homes.
Course Home