Patio Homes and Townhomes: Comparing and Contrasting

In Buyers by Doug Phelps

In many communities there are options to the kind of home a person or family can have.  The most obvious are multi-level apartment complexes and traditional single-family detached houses in neighborhoods and subdivisions.  In between these two extremes are a couple of options that are less known and understood – patio homes and townhomes.

The differences are small but distinctive.

Patio Home

A Patio Home – also sometimes called a Cluster Home or a Paired Home – is either a free-standing detached property or a paired structure (no more than two attached units), located on a very small lot.  The main living area is usually on one level, and there is regularly some private land of a quarter-acre or less that is with the property for a small yard.  Some patio home communities are grouped, or clustered, together; perhaps sharing a central courtyard or other common areas with several other homes.


A townhome or townhouse generally consists of three or more units with shared walls in a single building, and the property lot is limited to the ground on which the unit stands, with perhaps a small exterior patio area. There are often shared common grounds, but the key difference is there is no additional private land.

Getting Back Your Free Time

Patio homes are gaining popularity with homeowners of all ages because they offer the usual advantages of single family home ownership – privacy and yards – while entrusting most external building and lot maintenance chores to a home owners association (HOA).  This frees time that can be spent with family, in recreation or whatever activities that would be lost doing household tasks.

A patio home can be the perfect solution for young professionals who travel often, to recent retirees who are seeking a homey atmosphere with a lot less upkeep and “lock and leave” convenience than a traditional home.

For even less exterior concerns, the townhome fits the bill.  HOA fees for patio and cluster homes are generally comparable to those of townhomes and condos, depending on the services and other amenities provided by the HOA.

Single-family detached communities can have HOAs too; their services and dues vary for the amenities and services provided.

Patio home communities are popping up all over the country and such homes are a hot commodity. These single family detached homes, usually built on very small lots of ¼ acre or less, are very popular with active lifestyle living homeowners for their no or low maintenance conveniences. This includes communities offering golf, hiking and biking trails, and extensive recreation facilities including indoor and outdoor pools and fitness centers.

Homeowners associations (HOA) usually assume control of mundane chores of mowing, raking, planting, watering, and costly expenditures (i.e. building exterior and common area maintenance) in exchange for monthly fees. Homeowners association fees often include such services as lawn care and the operation of the sprinkler systems eliminating the worry of leaving the property unattended for extended periods of time. The associations also maintain architectural control to protect the integrity of the homes in the community.

If you are interested in knowing more about patio home living, townhome living or have any other Real Estate needs please do not hesitate to contact me. It would be my pleasure to help you.