Search by Home Type for Comparable Sales

Dear Monty: I am preparing to buy my first home. Depending on whom I speak with or even when I read an article or datasheet, I need clarification about two common words in the real estate vocabulary. They appear to be interchangeable.  The words are “style” and “type.”

Monty’s Answer: These two words have different meanings. The word “style” is related to the architectural appearance of a home. There are many styles to describe the look and feel of a home. Several examples of style descriptors are colonial, modern, contemporary, and gothic, but there are many more. The word “type” refers to how the home is constructed in relation to ground level and the number of floors at different levels. This distinction is important to understand.

The Factors

Negotations—When negotiating as a buyer or a seller, it is essential to review comparable properties to prepare for a negotiation. You want to find properties currently for sale and recently sold that are comparable in size, type, and in similar neighborhoods. The image above depicts the nine most common home types. In the upper left-hand corner is a dotted line that represents ground level. A diagram illustrating a cutaway slice of a one-story home is directly below the dotted line. If you are buying or selling a home, restricting your comparables to the same type of home will likely give you the truest comparables and a shorter range of value.   

Convenience—The ranch style requires the most significant square foot footprint for the convenience of all the rooms on the same level. A ranch requires more material to build, which makes it the most expensive. There are no stairs to enter or navigate within. Building a one-story home offers limitless design options. Living on one floor also conserves time maneuvering throughout the house. Every type of home has advantages and disadvantages.

Cost—The other eight types in the diagram above cost less to build, and some are far less expensive. The A-frame on the far right-hand side of the top row is the least expensive of the nine. The A-fame is the least costly because it requires the least material. The seven home types between the one-story and A-frame costs are in between. There are advantages to other home types besides a lower price. Many consider a second floor to be a more private environment. Adults and children have different activity schedules, and a second floor acts as a natural divider and privacy buffer, which many homeowners prefer.  

Promotion—Real estate advertising is well-known for being deceptive. Books are written about interpreting real estate ads when searching for a home. In today’s online world, photoshopped videos and photos eliminate objects that may discourage a buyer from looking or just the reverse, the video makes the home appear in like-new condition only to discover that the home is sub-par upon inspection. Baking bread to conceal pet urine odor, hiding worn or damaged floors with area rugs, and similar tricks still happen. When the seller furnishes an inspection, a seller condition report, and a virtual tour before the buyer makes an offer, the buyer appreciates being fully informed, and the seller is protected from liability and defects discovered just before closing.