47 Types of Investment Properties in USA – Which Should You Buy?
For a newbie property investor, there are as many as 47 types of investment properties in the USA that people actually sleep in every night.
Most of us live in apartments or condos in Singapore and Malaysia. Some live in big, tall modern buildings with a resort like environment.
In the USA, life there is just different.
“HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS”
What’s the difference? Architectural styles dictate the style in which the home is built around the world.
There are many such styles. These are usually based on a geographical location, for example, the Mediterranean, Ranch or Skyscraper Condominiums.
Types of building structures are a more accurate representation of the “types of houses” rather than the style of the houses.
When you flip through a USA based building magazine you may be excited to think that you want to live in a particular style of house. Or maybe you may be overwhelmed with the variety available.
What should you look for when there are so many different kinds of houses with such a different price range?
While many people search for houses, they are looking for different architectural styles instead of looking for the different types of residential building structures.
Let’s take a look at the Types of Houses by Structure Type in alphabetical order in the American context.
Type 1 – Apartment
An apartment in an individual home within one large building often called an apartment block. Apartment blocks are normally owned by a single company, developer or corporation. Each apartment is rented by the person living there.
Young professionals like apartments as it is relatively cheaper to rent than to buy a detached house.
Type 2 – Bungalow
Unlike the grand bungalows in Singapore and Malaysia, the original types of houses means a small, square, single-story home.
The single floor is raised up with front steps leading to a veranda; a covered area to sit at the front and or back.
Often there’s a single dormer window built into a pitched roof in the attic.
Type 3 – Cabin
A cabin connotes a simple, rustic and minimalist dwellings often found in rural areas. Traditionally, a cabin in the woods is a log-built structure with bare finishing.
Type 4 – Caravan
A caravan is commonly called a trailer in America. This is a mobile home used for a short term stay. It is a vehicle, which can be pulled behind a car or truck, which is used for going on holiday.
Many retirees are sell their homes and living in caravans due to rising living costs. Sometimes they will travel around the country before settling down in a new place.
Type 5 – Castle
Castles are large fortified old buildings, and the private homes of a lord or noble. Many castles are made with thick vertical outer stone walls surrounded by a circle of water, called a moat.
The iconic Cinderella Castle is the fairy tale castle at the center of Disney theme parks, visited by over 1 million people per year.
Type 6 – Carriage/Coach house
A carriage house or a coach house is an outbuilding originally built to house horse-drawn carriages. The primarily British term is mews describes a row of stables, usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above.
Built around London during the 17th and 18th centuries, the mews are alongside a street, a paved yard or court.
Type 7 – Cave
For those seeking to minimize the impact on the environment, they have built homes in naturally occurring caves or inbuilt structures underground or above the ground level.
Rocks can shelter some of these houses from behind, making them look like half-cave homes. Some cultures created cities that were a huge series of beautiful cave homes.
Type 8 – Chalet
Traditional Alpine or Swiss chalets are now popular vacation home in the mountains of in Switzerland. The characteristics of a chalet include a steep roof and deep overhangs designed for handling piles of snow.
Type 9 – Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally in French-speaking regions.
Type 10 – Condominium/Condo
In the USA, a condominium is a style of an apartment which is individually owned. Each owner has title to the inside of unit. The unit is called a parcel with shared common areas. The Condo owner has the right to use common areas, like the swimming pool, gym or tennis court.
Each condo owner is allowed to buy and sell their own condo. This is different from an apartment where the entire building is owned by one person or company.
Condominiums are very popular in the cities where they can live close to their work as houses are too expensive to buy.
Type 11 – Container Home
A recent development in home construction and design is to use existing Steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as the main structure of the home.
Small homes use one container while larger homes use multiple containers which can configure them in a variety of ways.
There are companies that specialize in designing and creating container homes which are said to be more eco-friendly than traditional homes built from brick and cement.
Type 12 – Cooperative aka Co-op
A co-op is similar in function and physical appearance of a condo and apartment. A With a co-op, each one of the multiple residents of the multi-unit housing complex own a percentage share of the building akin to shareholders of the entire property.
Each resident is given the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit. Technically they lease their unit from the co-op association.
A co-op association (made up of co-op members) can reject a prospective buyer from buying into the building.
Type 13 – Cottage
Cottages are small old-fashioned houses often found in the countryside. England style cottages has their signature look of a small single room home with thick stone or brick walls, a thatched roof.
Some wealthy people prefer to refer to their vacation properties as “the cottage” which downplays what is really a luxurious vacation home.
Type 14 – Dormitory/Dorm
Dormitories style accommodations are common on college and university campuses. These are individual rooms within a large building. Students share a dorm with a roommate. Bathroom, kitchen and common rooms are also shared.
Students love living in the dormitory because of all the parties they had.
Type 15 – Duplex
A duplex has two homes built less than one roof which is similar to a semi-detached house. Some duplexes used to be one house but were split into two homes.
It can be separated by a party wall which divides the building into two homes or someone could take the entire ground floor and another, the first floor.
Duplexes are often cheaper than single family homes because they cost less to build. However, there is an issue of privacy and noise to consider when living in a duplex.
Type 16 – Farmhouse
Farmhouse is traditionally built in the countryside, on large acres of land used for farming or raising animals. A farmhouse is located away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Type 17 – Flat
A flat is the British English version of an apartment. See apartment for more details.
Type 18 – Fort
A fort is a military structure built to defend and house military personnel. A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare. It is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime.
The term is derived from the Latin fortis and facere.
Type 19 – Hotel
A hotel is a place where you rent a room to sleep every night when you’re traveling for work or on a holiday. Each guest room is equipped with an attached bathroom, and a bed for sleeping.
Companies pay for their staff’s hotel room and meals when they have to travel for work.
Type 20 – Houseboat
A houseboat is a boat that was designed or modified as a floating building where people live. As the name suggests, a houseboat is part house, part boat.
Not all houseboats are motorized. Some are usually moored, kept stationary at a fixed point. The houseboat is tethered to land to provide utilities.
Type 21 – Hut
A hut is a very simple one story house, often built with cheap materials. With the new travel trend, some of these huts are converted to Glamping Pods for relaxation in the woods.
The Glamping Pods provide the creature comforts of two twin beds, private shower/toilet, microwave, and refrigerator.
Type 22 – Igloo
Igloos are buildings made out of ice and snow with an easily recognizable round dome like shape. These ice buildings keep the people inside them warm by using the occupants’ body heat to warm the air.
Closer in North America, the Hotel de Glace is the only ice hotel made of ice and snow with temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
Igloo hotels feature the most unique and unforgettable room stays. Guests at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Lapland in Finland can sleep in glass igloos under the Arctic sky and experience the magical wonder of the Northern Lights from the comfort of their bed.
Type 23 – Lighthouse
In America, these coastal night time guardians with a proud history of keeping ships out of harm’s way have been turned into hostel accommodations. Check out Saugerties Lighthouse, Saugerties, New York where guests can relax in the early 20th century interiors.
Type 24 – Lodge
A lodge is a small building near the gates of a large estate or piece of land, often used as a guard’s house. Presently, lodges are also halls where some groups go to meet. Some lodges have been converted to charming Bed and Breakfast properties.
Type 25 – Log Cabin/Log Homes
Log Cabins if build right can last for hundreds of years.These buildings are small structures found in the forests or woods. They’re made almost completely out of wood or large logs.
Log homes are often referred to as “green homes” as these homes are made from logs, which are renewable resources.
Type 26 – Manor
A manor is the English version of a chateau and is a large private house in the country, usually built in the Middle Ages.
In the USA, international affluent buyers are looking for luxury real estate which includes Manors, Mansions and other premium properties.
Some listing includes luxury historical homes and old mansions in estates.
Type 27 – Mansion
Enter the world of the fabulously rich and famous celebrities and you will see large, impressive regal estate home of the wealthy person which has at least 8,000 square feet of floor space.
These mansions and mega-mansions on the Los Angeles market have asking prices of over $100 million.
Type 28 – McMansion
McMansion is a sprawling, often architecturally mish mashed “mass-produced” home in suburban communities constructed with low-quality materials and craftsmanship to invoke wealth or taste.
Often with poorly imagined exterior and interior design, these buildings boasting several thousand square feet of mishmash of architectural symbolism of different eras hastily put together.
The typical foreclosed McMansion is not considered a sound investment as nothing symbolizes prerecession excess and served as reminders of what could happen when people try to live beyond their means.
Type 29 – Mobile Home
A mobile home is a prefabricated factory built structure, on a permanently attached steel chassis with wheels. It is transported to the site and used as permanent living accommodation.
Mobile homes are often sited in land lease communities for a more permanent residence.
Type 30 – Motel
A motel is a hotel designed for motorists to rest while making long road trips. Motels are located close to a major road or highways and usually have a parking area for motor vehicles. Typically these are a single building of connected rooms whose doors faced a parking lot.
Several historic motels are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. Some older restored American Motels have gone from kitsch to cutting-edge real estate investments.
Type 31 – Multi-Family Home
A multi-family home is one that has two or more housing units and sometimes includes an attached In-law suite.
A multifamily real estate property is a great investment as you can rent it out to generate income. You could also sell it as a fix-and-flip to earn an immediate profit.
Type 32 – Palace
A palace is a large and impressive building, a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary.
The word is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill in Rome which housed the Imperial residences.
The only palaces in the United States are those of the Hawaiian Royal Family and those of the royal governors while the United States was under the rule of the British Empire.
Type 33 – Ranch-Style
A ranch style home is a single story home, with a larger, rectangular footprint as compared to a bungalow. Ranchers grew in popularity in the 1950s as huge tracts of land were turned into suburbs with larger plots than the typical urban plots.
Growing families typically look for two story homes, so the resale market for a ranch is likely to be smaller.
Ranch houses back in demand as baby boomers age and are left as empty nesters. These ranch style houses are the perfect and cost-effective home because of their single floor which serves the multiple functions of living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms.
Type 34 – Semi-Detached House
Semi-detached houses are an uncommon property type in the USA. Research shows that due to lifestyle preferences, renters rather live in detached homes.
Type 35 – Shack
A shack is a small building often put together loosely with left-over or cheap materials. A shack is similar to a hut or cabin.
What makes a shack different is that it is often made with modern materials like wood and metal and generally not well built.
Type 36 – Single family home (Detached)
70% of Americans prefer to live in single-family homes. Typically the most sought after type of house in the USA, the average size of a newly constructed single-family detached home is 2,600 square feet.
Most detached single family homes are located in suburbs throughout North America. The house sits on its own property and is completely separate from other houses.
Before WWII, only 13% of people lived in suburbs. By 2010, one-half of the US population has moved into the suburbs. Even with the baby boomer generation downsizing, demand for condos, townhomes, and apartments is growing.
Renting a single-family home has become a more mainstream and a viable option for property investors.
Type 37 – Skyscraper
Constructed in 1928-1930, the Chrysler Building is an Art Deco–style skyscraper located on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City.
Build as quintessential symbol of the machine age by architect William Van Alen, this 91 year old beauty is NYC’s second most famous skyscraper and is put up for sale if you’re interested.
When it comes to commercial skyscrapers, no matter its age, such iconic buildings are worth more than they originally cost.
Type 38 – Teepee
Teepees are the original “mobile” homes in which Native American Indians used to live. Made with animal skins and sticks, the Indians would take the teepees apart when they move locations when the seasons changed.
Now teepees are used for Glamping and novelty stays.
Type 39 – Tents
Tent home are usually temporary structures Ideal for camping, back country outfitters, hunting purposes.
Modern tents have enhanced usability features with push button spring locks for quick and easy set-up.
Norseman has designed a rain fly to help keep your tent warm and dry in the most challenging weather conditions. Fabricated with durable, lightweight, flame resistant (FR) polyethylene (PE) these tents are usually anchored using guy ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs.
Type 40 – Terraced House
A terraced house is a tall but narrow house which is attached on both sides to another house. They are common in many European countries like England, Holland and Germany.
In those countries, whole streets neighbourhoods of houses can all be connected to each other in a row.
Baltimore, Maryland has more row houses than any other city in the United States. The concept of the row house style itself came from England. Back in the early 1900s, the wealthy, the middle class, and the working class all lived in row houses.
Type 41 – Tiny home
Simply put, the trend toward tiny houses is a recent architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes.
Generally, a residential structure under 500 square feet is considered a tiny home. Minimalists embrace the tiny life philosophy and the freedom of living a fuller life with less clutter.
Type 42 – Townhouse
A townhouse is similar to a terraced house. Townhouses are houses built for inner-city living. There are tall and narrow buildings. They don’t have a lot of land around them and often only have very small gardens at the back.
Type 43 – Trailer
Type 44 – Tree house
A tree house is a platform or a building constructed among the trunk or branches of a mature tree above the ground level.
Tree houses can be used for recreation, work space, habitation, observation and not permanent homes.
Type 45 – Underground House
Underground living refers to living below the ground’s surface. This occurs in naturally occurring caves or in built structures. While the term “bunker” refers to some form of bomb shelter or protective shelter, some people do live in underground houses.
In JRR Tolkien’s novel, a “Hobbit House is so named because they are built partially underground.
Type 46 – Villa
A villa is the Italian version of a chateau and originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house.
In modern parlance, “villa” can refer to various types and sizes of residences. These can range from the suburban semi-detached double villa to other residences where the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably.
Type 47 – Yurt
A traditional yurt or ger is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.
The structure comprises an angled assembly or latticework of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs, and a wheel possibly steam-bent.
So What Do I Buy Now?
Now that you know what types of homes are available on the market, you need to narrow it down to this.
What is a profitable model to buy? Will there be demand when it’s time for you to sell?
It’s important to know what’s available on the market. It is more important to know which are the types of houses or home that people want to live in.
If you can envision people’s lifestyle needs and how it may evolve in the next five to ten years, then you will win on what a viable model looks like.
There are several types of residential buildings to choose from.
At Noble Sky Institute, we dive deep into research and narrow down the search for a profitable investment model.
Read our guide to the types of houses in the USA for Property Investment, its characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks of each type of residential building.
Now that you’ve learnt the difference between single-family homes, condos, and townhouses, and decide which is right for you?
What kind of building do you live in? What kind of home do you envision your family living in, say in 5 or 10 years’ time?
Leave your answers in the comment section below.