COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PATIO HOME, A TOWNHOME, AND A HOME HOME “As a general rule, Patio Home means tiny yard and 1 to 2 stories and no shared wall. A Townhome may have no yard at all or a small yard but is generally 3 stories plus and may have a shared wall. Now, don’t ask me what the difference is between those and a Garden Home, or City Home, or Urban Home.” [commonsense, commenting on What’s Planned for the Camp Strake Property; Pushing for a Galveston Bay Watergate ‘Compromise’]
I’m not sure that’s 100% accurate. I believe a townhome has a shared wall, which is why it falls in to a separate category along with condo’s on the Multiple Listing Service, and does not qualify as a single-family home.
Ok I won’t—
A townhome does have a shared wall – a shared wall between interior living spaces. A patio home does not, though it usually has interior living space butting up onto the property line instead of side yard.
I don’t understand why MLS lumps townhomes and condos together. They are VERY different forms of residence. Townhomes are a form of single family (single family attached) including the fee lot, and can never be stacked as separately purchased units.
townhomes can be free standing and not a shared wall. So anything 3+ stories are townhomes. Look under the townhomes in the MLS and free standing townhomes are there.
This may be simplifying things but I think it’s close:
Patio homes do not generally have common walls, and usually have small side yards. Typically fee simple ownership. Townhomes usually have party walls, but you own the lot and dwelling. Condos may or may not have party walls, but you own the space inside your unit and share exterior & common spaces with other owners.
Part of the issue with townhomes is that there is a “generic” definition, an MLS definition (though I’m not sure what their guidelines there, probably because I’m too lazy to look it up), and a stricter definition related to the Census – the “single family attached” designation, which requires a shared wall. Many folks might call what you see in San Francisco, for example, “townhomes”, but by the latter definition they are single family detached. Just squished very very close together.
Town homes don’t have to be 3+ stories…this is a new phenomenon in the last decade or so.
Townhome? Do you mean townhouse? My spell check agrees with me.
In San Antonio I owned a ‘patio home’ that I usually heard referred to as a ‘zero lotline’ property. That was a new term to me. It was a tidy 1500-ish sqft house on a corner lot with v. small front, side and back yards; but on one side the west wall of my house was the actual lot line. My property started at the exact point my neighbors tiny yard stopped. this was not in the urban core, but just outside the loop in a 4 or 5 block carve-out of a older, close-in subdivision of mostly custom houses. do subdivision builders still do houses like this in the Houston area? I loved that place , and doubled my money when i sold it.
@Crunch Yep you can find those types of neighborhoods. I live in one, just inside Beltway 8 off I-45 South. There’s several small, newer neighborhoods like that around me.
it’s always been my understanding that these terms where just that; terms. As such, there were no hard-and-fast legal differences.
(save for “Condo”)
And there are a lot of people using the term ‘fee lot’ and ‘fee simple’. I don’t think that meaning is common knowledge — even on an RE blog.