Anyone looking to buy a home will quickly realize that many types of houses are available in Canada. The variety can be beneficial for any potential homeowner since it gives you different options. What you’ll eventually choose will often depend on your location, needs and budget.
Before you start house hunting, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different housing types in Canada.
A detached home is one of the most popular types of houses in Canada since it stands on its own and doesn’t share any walls with other homes. In addition, most detached homes have a front yard and backyard, so they’re great for families looking for additional space.
Generally speaking, detached homes are the most expensive type of housing. While owning a detached home gives you more privacy and space, it can also be expensive. In addition, you’re responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep. You’ll also typically pay more in property taxes than on other homes since taxes are based on property values.
Semi-detached homes come in different sizes, but they all have one thing in common: a wall you share with another home. Semi-detached homes may also have some other shared elements, such as a fence or driveway.
Semi-detached houses are usually cheaper than detached homes, but you give up some of your privacy for that lower cost. If the structure was built well, you might never hear your neighbour. On the other hand, you may have a neighbour who’s loud all the time.
Townhouses are a row of homes where each unit shares walls on both sides with their neighbours. That said, the end units have only one shared wall, so they’re similar to a semi-detached.
Townhouses are typically cheaper than detached and semi-detached homes. However, there are many luxury townhomes available these days that can be pretty expensive.
Some townhouse owners have their own private backyard, while others have ground-level or rooftop patios. Each owner is responsible for the maintenance of their own individual property.
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Condominiums, or condos for short, are large buildings that contain many units. Each unit has an individual owner, but there could be many common elements such as the lobby, fitness centre, parking garage, pool, yard, and more.
A condo corporation (also called a syndicate or strata corp. in some provinces) is required to maintain all the common elements. The corporation ensures that the building is kept running and within budget. They’ll also make recommendations when it comes to repairs and picking contractors.
As a resident, you can vote on the condo corporation’s decisions. To help pay for all the standard amenities and building maintenance, each resident pays monthly condo fees.
Condo townhomes are similar to traditional freehold townhomes, but a condo corporation owns and maintains any exterior elements, such as yards, parking, and shared amenities. Residents pay monthly maintenance fees that go towards the amenities and landscaping.
Condo townhomes can also have a different look than traditional townhomes. Many condo townhomes are stacked, so you might have a neighbour above or below you. Most condo townhomes still have some individual outdoor private space, such as a patio, balcony or rooftop.
Bungalows are a type of detached home. They typically have minimal stairs, with most living and sleeping areas on a single floor. Some bungalows have a single flight of stairs that lead up to an additional bedroom. Many bungalows also have a basement that homeowners have renovated into a usable space. Bungalows are an older style of home that you don’t see built much anymore, as two-storey homes are now preferred.
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It’s rare to see newly built split-level homes, but they’re still popular among some house hunters. This type of home typically has multiple levels. In most cases, the main level has common living areas such as the kitchen and living room. The upper level would have bedrooms, while the lower level would usually be used as a family room. Split-level homes come in many different layouts, but the most common are side split and back split.
Duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes contain two, three, and four homes, respectively. Each unit will have its own separate entrance, and the home may have multiple floors. These types of houses in Canada typically have one owner, with the additional units being rented out. Sometimes there can be various owners on the title, with each homeowner occupying their own individual unit.
Depending on how the living arrangements are set up, you may have some common elements such as parking and a yard. Although you can still find these housing units in many cities, it’s rare to see them as new builds.
The cost to buy a home in Canada can vary quite a bit. As of July 2021, the national average was $661,788, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The averages in Ontario and British Columbia were both above $830,000.
In major urban centres such as the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas, the average house price is over a million dollars. This is obviously a concern for many first-time homebuyers as the average price often far exceeds what they can afford.
Generally speaking, the following factors determine the cost of a home:
If you’re on a fixed budget, be sure to speak with a realtor, as they can advise you on what you can reasonably afford to buy.
It’s also a good idea to talk with your financial institution or a mortgage broker to determine how much of a mortgage you can afford. With this number in mind, you’ll have a target price range when you start looking for a home.
Buying a home could take some time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find something right away. Eventually, the right property comes up, and you’ll put in the winning bid.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel. You can reach him on Twitter: @barrychoi.