Freestanding House: 6 Ownership Advantages & Disadvantages

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A freestanding house is a specific type of residential real estate. We’ll explain what a freestanding home is and the types of mortgage financing you can obtain for it.

What is a Freestanding House?

So, what is meant by freestanding house? A freestanding home is also commonly known as a detached house. A freestanding or detached house is a home that stands on it’s own and is not connected to any other houses.

Freestanding houses come in various styles and sizes, from small cottages to large mansions. They often have front and back yards where you can plant flowers, play games, or relax outdoors.

This type of housing is popular in suburban areas, where people enjoy having more space. It’s a common choice for families who want a home of their own with no shared walls or spaces.

You may hear real estate and mortgage professionals refer to freestanding homes as single-family homes. This is an accurate description most of the time, but not always. Not all single-family homes are freestanding homes. 

The image at the top of this article is a good example of a freestanding single-family home in a suburban neighborhood. However, single-family homes can also be constructed with shared walls, as shown in the image below.

These are single-family houses, but they’re not freestanding single-family houses. As you can see, each home is attached to the neighboring house.

The term freestanding house refers to the type of construction, not the type of property. This may seem like a difference without a distinction, but the terminology matters when you’re working with real estate agents and mortgage professionals. The type of property you’re buying, whether it’s freestanding or not, can have an impact on mortgage pricing and qualifying. As we’ll see next, a number of property types can be built as freestanding structures.

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Common Property Types in Mortgage and Real Estate

The following is a list of the most common property type categories in the mortgage and real estate industries:

  1. Single-family residence (SFR) – A residential property designed to be occupied by a single family and zoned single-family residential. Single-family residences are typically freestanding, but not always. Some single-family homes can be attached (as in the above photo), which means they share one or more common walls with the neighboring home.
  2. Townhome – Townhomes are also designed to be occupied by a single family, but they typically share common walls with one or more neighboring homes. Townhome complexes also usually have a homeowner’s association that maintains the common areas throughout the townhome complex. Townhomes are usually not stacked like condominiums often are. The owner typically owns the land beneath the unit as well. Townhomes are not typically built in a freestanding style.
  3. Condominium – Condominiums often look similar to townhomes, but the land beneath the units is owned and maintained by the homeowner’s association (HOA). Condos are often built in a stacked configuration, meaning they take the form of multistory buildings with individual units occupying all or part of a single floor. Condos usually aren’t built in a freestanding style, but they sometimes can be.
  4. Planned-unit development (PUD) – This type of home usually takes the form of a planned community of single-family homes. The homes are constructed as single-family dwellings (though not always), but there’s usually a homeowner’s association that maintains common areas such as event rooms, pools, playgrounds, and parks. Unlike condos, the individual homeowners own the land beneath their homes. Homes in planned-unit developments are most often built in a freestanding style, in my experience.
  5. Duplex – Two residential units in a single building with one Tax ID. The individual units may be built in a manner similar to condos or townhomes, but they’re not owned individually. The entire building is owned by a single owner and the units are typically rented out. The duplex building is built in a freestanding style, but the individual units within it are not.
  6. Triplex – Three residential units in a single building with one Tax ID. As with the duplex property type, the entire building is owned by a single owner and the units are typically rented out. The triplex building is built in a freestanding style, but the individual units within it are not.
  7. Fourplex – Four residential units in a single building with one Tax ID. As with the triplex property type, the entire building is owned by a single owner and the units are typically rented out. The fourplex building is built in a freestanding style, but the individual units within it are not.
  8. Manufactured home – This type of home is built in a factory, then transported to the installation site and assembled and installed on a permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are built to government-mandated safety standards and are always freestanding houses.

Here’s the bottom line: the term freestanding house has to do with the style of construction, not so much the property type. Again, manufactured homes are always freestanding. Single-family homes and PUDs are almost always freestanding. Condos and townhomes are usually not freestanding structures because they usually have shared walls.

So, why does this all matter? If you’re not applying for a mortgage, it really doesn’t. However, if you’re purchasing or refinancing a home, the property type can matter – whether it’s freestanding or not.

If you’re planning to purchase a condo, manufactured home, duplex, triplex, or fourplex, additional risk-based pricing may apply to your closing costs and/or interest rate. Additional lending requirements may also apply. Make sure you keep your mortgage professional up to speed on the type of properties you’re looking at.

Freestanding house meaning: A freestanding house is also commonly known as a detached house. A freestanding or detached house is a home that stands on it’s own and is not connected to any other houses.
Freestanding homes usually come with a yard and other outdoor spaces that can be a nice extension of your interior living spaces.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Owning a Freestanding House

There are a lot of potential advantages that come with owning a freestanding house, whether it’s a single-family home, manufactured home, or a home in a planned-unit development:

  • Privacy – A freestanding home offers more privacy than homes with shared walls. The yard around your home reduces noise and creates space between you and your neighbors.
  • Outdoor space – Most freestanding homes have at least a small yard, which can be an extension of the interior spaces of your home. This offers the opportunity to plant trees and bushes and enjoy a private entertaining space outside.
  • Customization – When you own a freestanding house, you have more options to modify your home’s interior and exterior. You change the exterior landscaping, paint color of your home, or add on or make other structural changes.
  • No HOA dues – Freestanding homes often don’t have homeowner’s associations (HOAs) – which almost always apply to condos and townhomes. Homeowner’s associations charge monthly dues and often have restrictive policies that limit what you can do with your home. Many HOAs can even foreclose on you if you don’t pay your HOA dues.

There are also some potential disadvantages:

  • Higher maintenance and upkeep – Freestanding homes typically require more maintenance than homes with shared walls. If you own a condo or townhome, the homeowner’s association typically handles a good amount of the exterior maintenance. When you own a freestanding home, the maintenance is 100% your responsibility.
  • Limited amenities – Condo and townhome complexes often have shared amenities such as pools, workout facilities, and meeting spaces. Single-family homes usually don’t have those kind of amenities unless you live in a planned-unit development.
  • Cost considerations – Freestanding homes may also have higher costs for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. However, condos and townhomes often have high homeowner’s association dues that don’t apply to freestanding homes.

Where to Get Financing

It’s generally pretty easy to find home loans for single-family homes, whether they’re freestanding or not. Any major mortgage lender will usually offer financing for single-family homes, condos, townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes.

Fewer lenders offer financing for manufactured homes, but they’re out there. You may need to dig a little harder if you want to purchase or refinance a manufactured home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does freestanding mean in a house?

A freestanding home is also commonly known as a detached house. A freestanding or detached house stands on it’s own and is not connected to any other houses. It shares no common walls with neighboring houses.

What is a freestanding duplex?

A freestanding duplex stands on it’s own and is not connected to any other buildings. It shares no common walls with neighboring buildings.

What defines a detached house?

A detached or freestanding house stands on it’s own and is not connected to any other houses. It shares no common walls with neighboring houses.

What is the most common type of house?

The most common type of house is a single-family house. Single-family homes are most commonly built as freestanding structures, but they are occasionally constructed with one or more shared walls.

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About Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts is the founder of MyHECM.com, a published author, and a highly experienced mortgage industry veteran with over a decade of mortgage banking experience. When he's not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, skiing, camping, traveling, or reading a good book. Roberts is the author of The Reverse Mortgage Revealed: An Industry Insider’s Guide to the Reverse Mortgage, which is available on Amazon.