I Keep Seeing “Twin Home” Real Estate Listings. But What Actually Are They?
As a real estate writer, I often find myself talking about the subject with friends and combing through for-sale listings just for fun. So when one of my pals mentioned finding a lot of “twin homes,” during her search, I started noticing the term, too.
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“How do I not know what these are?” I asked myself. I can identify duplexes and townhomes without a problem — twin homes actually look very similar to them — but I certainly hadn’t heard them referred to as such. So, like any good reporter, I did some digging to discover the definition. But before I reveal what a twin home is, it helps to understand what it isn’t.
A twin home isn’t a duplex.
A duplex is defined as two homes that share a wall and are owned by the same person, according to the Duplex Doctors, a real estate company that specializes in selling duplexes. This sort of multifamily building is a nice compromise between apartment and single-family living, as the building itself can be one or multiple stories. Duplex owners typically rent out one or both sides of the duplex, and renters live in their unit much like they would live in an apartment, but with the feel of a single-family home.
A twin home isn’t a townhouse.
A townhouse or townhome is a multi-story unit that is part of a row of other units where the middle units share two walls and the end units share one. Some townhouse owners live in the homes, while others rent them out. A block or row of townhomes can have different individual owners, and may have a small yard in the front or the back.
So, what is a twin home?
A twin home is defined as two single-family homes that share a wall but have separate owners. The lot line of a twin home splits the home and the property, creating two separate lots and therefore two separate properties, per Realtor.com.
Because the owner owns the home, they are at liberty to do with it what they want (within HOA guidelines if they are part of one, of course). This means that the yard can be landscaped and maintained differently, the exterior of each side of the building can be different colors or clad in different materials, and even the roof can be different.
Twin homes are treated as single-family homes, so they are financed just as any single-family home would be — and taxed the same as well.
The Pros and Cons of Owning a Twin Home
There are certainly upsides and downsides to owning a twin home. If you’re seriously considering one as part of your search, I’ve started a pro-and-con list for you. Keep these qualities in mind as you tour!
- A twin home is financed and taxed as a single-family home.
- It may be more affordable than a standalone single-family home.
- You can maintain it as you would any other single-family home.
- You could rent it out if you decide to no longer live there.
- You’ll share a wall with your neighbors, which can reduce privacy.
- Your home may look different or be maintained differently than your neighbor’s.
Now that you know what a twin home is, and what their strong suits and pitfalls are, happy hunting.