You learn something new every day! If you’re like many people, you might think that the terms twin home and duplex are interchangeable. While these two styles of housing are similar in many ways, there are some striking differences. We’ll briefly outline the differences and then discuss some advantages and possible disadvantages of owning a twin home.
Many of us are familiar with the terms duplex, condo, co-op and townhome. They each have something different to offer the homeowner or landlord. A twin home is another possibility and is often confused with a duplex.
As the term implies, there are two homes, side by side, within the same building. They share a wall as do duplexes, but twin homes share a clear-cut wall in the middle, have a similar design on both sides, and are considered two separate parcels and properties, rather than one.
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With the dividing line down the middle of the building, ownership is divided equally. The interesting element here is that the property line also runs down the middle of the building and each side has its own property (lot) description.
Each side is owned and operated independently of the other. On the other hand, in the case of a duplex which is considered a multifamily dwelling, the building is divided into two properties/addresses that share one parcel of land.
There are advantages associated with owning a twin home. Usually, there are no homeowner association fees like you have with townhomes and condos. With no association rules and regulations, the owner is free to maintain the home and yard as desired, without restrictions and without consulting the owner of the adjoining property.
However, you should check to be sure since some neighborhoods have chosen to operate within an association to maintain certain standards for the community.
Each property owner can choose their exterior maintenance separately. They can choose paint, colors, siding and roofing according to their own taste and budget. This feels great to the independent free spirit. No one will deny them the opportunity to paint their home fluorescent orange. One owner may decide to add a deck, patio or porch, and once a permit is approved, the project is underway.
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Landscaping is also solely up to the owner of each twin home. In some cases, the owners may consult and agree on similar improvements to maintain a coordinated appearance, gain curb appeal and more attractive resale opportunities.
A twin home will likely be less expensive and easier on your budget than a single-family home in the same area. Financing may be easier to obtain since the purchase price would be lower.
You can expect to pay less for property taxes as well. Since you’ll be sharing a wall, heating expenses might be a bit less than a single-family home of similar square footage. Families could possibly save money because of the lower mortgage payment, interest, taxes, insurance and maintenance.
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As in most situations, there are some possible disadvantages to the owner depending on lifestyle and goals. As with townhomes and condos, there may be issues with noise since you are sharing a wall. If the two owners have different schedules, the noise and disruptions, early or late, might be irritating.
If there are children, the activity, noise or a toy-filled yard might be annoying for the other owner. If pets are part of the family on one side and owners do not take the time to clean up after them, it can cause issues for the other owner. Barking can also be a bone of contention.
There can also be arguments and dissatisfaction with choices the neighboring owner might make on improvements and upkeep. One side may end up looking much different in style, color and products than the other. If one yard is well manicured and the other is not, it can cause hard feelings, especially for the owner who is conscientiously maintaining the lawn and landscaping. These issues can also affect market value when deciding to sell.
When looking at a twin home, be sure to make an honest appraisal of ongoing and future maintenance costs. You will be responsible for roofing, siding, windows, driveways and lawns in addition to the interior appliances and mechanical equipment.
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Check on the age and life cycle of appliances, siding and roofing to know what to expect. All this can add up, so you’ll want to have some cash in reserve, especially for unexpected repairs and replacements.
Typically, you’ll expect a twin home to have a resale value that is less than that of a single-family home. Be sure to check the neighborhood to see how owners are maintaining their property. If they all take pride in their homes, the resale should be higher.
Conversely, if many of the owners are letting their properties decline in maintenance and overall appearance, these properties may not be as attractive to a potential buyer. By looking at the neighborhood, you’ll know if it’s a good fit for you.
When it comes to resale, many buyers still prefer a single-family home, so you may not have as many interested parties viewing your home. However, if you maintain it well, along with your neighbors, your chances of a good sale price will be higher. It’s just as important to create welcoming curb appeal as you would in a single-family home—maybe even more.
You won’t have much control over who the next-door owner is or how they maintain their home. The best-case scenario has both owners agreeing on appearance, upkeep, and showing respect and concern for each other.
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As with any home purchase decision, a twin home purchase warrants serious consideration. You can assess the general appearance of the neighborhood and visit at various times of the day and week to see what goes on. Your real estate agent will help you compare pricing and features, and your mortgage professional will help you understand the financial impact of the purchase.
As you set your priorities for homeownership, you’ll notice a theme of what’s most important to you. You may want a lower purchase price and maintenance costs, so you can save for the future. You may want more control over the exterior appearance and upkeep, or your own exclusive space. The adjacent owner holds a wild card in a twin home situation, so it’s important to think of the “what if” possibilities that might unfold.
Consulting with your professional realtor to make sure you’ve considered everything and how it will affect your finances and comfort is always a good idea. If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend who might also have an interest. Happy home hunting!
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