Millennials, once characterized as the generation that stayed in their parents’ homes during the Great Recession, are moving into their own homes now. In fact, people 36 years of age or younger, who are of both the millennial and Generation Y cohort, now constitute the largest group of homebuyers in the United States, at 34 percent. Two-thirds of these buyers are purchasing homes for the first time.
Perhaps most intriguingly, though, this group of home buyers are increasingly choosing to buy single-family detached homes rather than condominiums or townhomes, which are often grouped under the “attached” home umbrella. Briefly, condos are a single unit in a multi-unit building, while townhomes are attached to each other, often with individual small yards.
Is this the right choice, though? There are significant differences between single-family detached homes and attached ones. Let’s look at the pros and cons of single-family detached homes.
Pros to Buying Detached Homes
You Can Enjoy a Nice Yard
While not every single-family home on the planet has a yard, most do. Detached homes generally have a front- and backyard. So if you’ve been hankering to grow anything from tomatoes to lilacs, you’ll have a plot of land on which to do it. You’ll be able to look at an expanse of lawn if you want, or put up a croquet set. Your pets will also have a place to play.
Freedom to Do What the Homeowner Wants
When you buy a single-family detached house, the property is yours. There are no community association members who might have something to say about how you renovate or expand your property. If you want to make one room larger or smaller, you can. The only restrictions are what physically is possible to do and any zoning regulations on the part of local authorities.
Big Gains in Privacy
Single-family homes in general are much more private that attached homes. There’s a reason the latter are called “attached,” after all. Townhomes share walls with neighbors. Condo units can share not only walls, but floors and ceilings with neighbors. As a result, you may hear conversations, loud music and other noises from your neighbors. You may hear a neighbor walking on your ceiling, which is their floor. And vice versa — they can also hear these noises from you.
More Space for Your Family
While the sizes of detached homes vary, they are generally larger than attached homes. They also have attics and basements, which few attached homes have. In general, if you want room to expand your family, whether with children or perhaps elderly family members at some point, a detached home will provide more space to do so.
Cons to Buying Detached Homes
Comparatively Few Amenities
Condominium and townhome developments often have significant amenities. They can, for example, have swimming pools, fitness centers and tennis courts. They have been designed with the idea people will use some or all of these amenities, and will be drawn to the developments by them. Detached homes generally have no access to amenities like this, unless they are part of the home’s grounds.
You Are in Charge of Maintenance?
If you live in an apartment building or condo, management will hire someone to take care of issues like clogged roof drains or ponding water. Left unattended, water could accumulate and seep into your roofing system and walls. Fortunately, with regular maintenance, these small issues are caught before they become bigger issues that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
However, every maintenance chore in a single-family detached home falls upon the homeowner to either do or hire someone to do. If lawns are to be mowed, plants to be tended, snow to be shoveled or roofs to be maintained, it is all the property owner’s time and responsibility.
Longer Commutes to Work
Single-family homes may have longer commutes than attached homes. Many attached home developments are near main arterials or highways. They are also often located strategically next to public transportation. That means their residents can access those main roads quicker or get on public transit more rapidly than people in single-family detached homes, and so they have a shorter and quicker commute.
Too Much Space
While space is definitely a pro factor for single-family home owners, it can also be a con. Which camp it falls into depends entirely on lifestyle needs. If a homeowner is single, or becomes single due to a divorce or death of a spouse, the space afforded by a detached home may be overwhelming.
The space may emotionally feel like too much, or it may be too difficult or time-consuming to take care of. A detached home may also become too expensive for a single person, as they generally cost more because of the larger space.
More and more millennials are buying single-family detached homes. Is this the smartest move? There are pros and cons each way. Millennials, like all home buyers, must think through their needs and wants to find the best choice for them.