Forget the White Picket Fence – Other Options for Home Ownership

So you have decided you want your own place – the freedom to do what you want and build some equity through your payments. But what does that first home look like to you? A single-family home with a two-car garage? A nice big yard, long driveway, white picket fence, and a tire swing in the big tree? Perhaps that is the right home for you. Perhaps not.

In today’s housing market there are many options for ownership that may fit your needs and wants, even if your needs and wants aren’t “the norm”. My goal for this week’s blog is to point out some of the different types of resident-owned housing that is available here in our very own community. Maybe you have been hesitating because you don’t want the yard work. Maybe you just assumed you have to do all of the scraping and painting of the outside of your home.

Well, then let’s take a look at your options:picket fence bird house

  • Single-Family – Yes, this is the traditional norm. A free-standing, single-unit structure in which you own the structure, land, and typically all rights associated with the property. Unless you have a neighborhood association or covenants in place, you are pretty free to do whatever you want…. within the law of course. Along with this freedom, however, typically comes the work. You are responsible for all maintenance, care, snow removal, etc.
  • Twin-Home – Typically looking much like a single-family home, this style has two front doors and two garages (if there are any). You own your portion of the structure and the land under it, but will have some sort of formal agreement with your neighbor – the one with whom you share a common wall. Often, the garages are put in the middle as a buffer between the living spaces. Any agreement is often less restrictive than others, only dealing with exterior repair. It’s no good if you decide you need new siding and your neighbor thinks a quick coat of neon purple paint will suffice.
  • Condo – This style is not just for retirees or resorts! Often looking like an apartment, you own your own unit and usually garage space. You also have a type of ownership over the common areas and land which you share with all of your neighbors in your building. Again, you maintain and make the decisions about the interior of your unit, but there will be an owners’ association that is responsible for maintain the exterior and other common areas. You will have an association fee, but this will usually cover at least exterior maintenance, water, sewer, rubbish service, and insurance on the building. Independently, you will only need an equivalent of Renters Insurance to cover your personal belongings. While typically apartment looking, the condo form of ownership can also look like side-by-side units often confused with townhomes. Which brings us to…
  • Townhome – Usually a string of units connected by common walls, they will not be stacked on top of each other. In a townhome, you not only freely own your unit, but the land underneath it. The connected nature simply allows more units in a given amount of land, which means less exterior for you to maintain (and less property to pay taxes on). Again there will be an owners’ association to oversee exterior maintenance and possibly even lawn care and snow removal, but you will have more responsibilities as well (i.e. your own water bill).
  • Villa – This is a bit of a unique form of home that is relatively new to Sioux Falls. Villas are free standing single-family homes that are usually finished quite nicely. You fully and freely own the home and the land under it as you would any single family home. The difference is that, in a development of villas, each lot is quite small and the homes are relatively close together. If you want a little yard to let the dog out and have a flowerbed or vegetable patch, you can do that. But there is also usually an owners’ association that handles all lawn maintenance and snow removal. Again, the smaller lot can also mean lower property taxes than a similar home on a larger lot.

daffodilsNot into the whole ‘white picket fence’ thing? That’s ok. There are enough options for homeownership that you may well find something that fits your personal needs, wants, and style. Often times, as life circumstances change, people will move from one type of home to another. At least take time to consider where you are at and what may be a better option for you. Perhaps, even staying where you are as a tenant is the best option. That is certainly ok too if it is the best option for your unique situation.

Even if a new purchase is the best option for you, it is no small decision. Take time. Gather more information. If you would like some help through that process, we can help. Our free Homebuyer Express classes obligate you to do absolutely nothing. We only hope to create a better educated community. Contact us if you have any questions.

written by Breck Miller
photos courtesy


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