Differences in Home Styles

I had the pleasure of visiting our founding city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, over Independence Day. As part of my family’s festivities we took a Segway tour of Old City and some of the historic facts caught my real estate geek’s ear. The result? This week’s column.

Do you know the difference between a row house and a town house? Did you know that townhouses used to be called Philadelphia houses? Although I can’t find information supporting the latter statement, the former made me think of the nuances between home styles and maybe some of you real estate geeks out there would be interested in the basic facts.

Let’s start with row houses and town houses. What’s the difference? How many are in a row, of course. There is no set number of consecutive properties that make up townhomes, but anything more than two, which is commonly known as a duplex, and less than a city block would fall in that category. Row houses are connected homes usually at least two stories high that span an entire city block. Townhomes, as we see in our market, are in groups of usually three to six then separated by some greenspace.

Along that note, just as there is a difference between a crick and a creek (but that’s a different column) there is a difference between other home styles: split-entries and split-levels which became very popular in the mid-20th century. The difference is in the split. A split level has living space at the entry level as well as additional living space a few steps above and/or below. For instance, a substantial foyer and formal living room or kitchen on the entry level and less than a full flight of stairs above and below for bedrooms and family living space. If you walk in the front door then go up or down stairs to access any living area that’s a split entry, or foyer depending on your region. So, more space than kicking off your shoes and hanging up your keys will be the sure giveaway on which is what.

That being said, a two-story home is a two-story and a ranch is a ranch, right? Nope! Nothing about real estate is quite that easy, is it? There are four-square homes, colonials, farmhouses, bungalows, and more. And a ranch can be a raised ranch depending on the foundation. In other words, there are a plethora of styles, roof lines, and differences between above and below-grade square footage. How do you know which is what and how to market yours? By asking your real estate geek, I mean professional of course!  I could go on for weeks on this topic but, alas, my word count is limited so I will sign off on this bit of history. Stay tuned next week for my market update and, as always, never hesitate to reach out and submit your questions and column ideas. Take care…

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