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The 5 Main Property Types and Which is Right for You

Couple feel right and celebrate moving into their new property.

No matter who you are, you'll know when a home feels right!

A lot of the time, people will generally have an idea of what types of property are right for them and what they need when it comes to moving to a new space. But it's important to distinguish the different types. If you’re a family of 5, it’s likely that a 4 bedroom house or townhouse will be more suited than a 2 bedroom apartment. But life is often more nuanced than that. Perhaps you’re a DINK couple, looking at buying your first home. Are you planning on getting pets? Having kids in the future? Or even a house-mate to help offset your mortgage repayments? These questions have an influence when deciding on the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, car spots; will you have a yard? Will it be big enough? Is it close to parks or schools? Because life transitions, it’s helpful to think about how your life will change and how it will remain the same when looking at the types of property that will suit you.

So let’s break down the main types of property and how they typically suit certain people. There are mainly 5 types of property: standalone houses (house & land packages), townhouses, apartments, duplexes, and dual-keys (dual-livings).

Key Takeaways:

● There a 5 main types of property

● Will you be moving in or renting out?

Standalone Houses

The classic, tried and true home. Probably the most flexible and customisable of properties, but also the most expensive. Being able to choose your land size, location, and landscaping, then choosing a house package with choice on façade, size, and layout - this really gives you space to have what you want. This is a great choice for people looking to move in and investors alike. If it’s just you and your SO moving in together, you can easily have a pet, maybe a housemate too. Then, in the future if your circumstances change, you have space for a family, or can utilise it as an investment property and have renters move in.

There’s a lot of customisation to be had with standalone houses too. Buyers can and typically do work closely with builders to decide on what specific they want in a house package. Size and layout is the big one - do you want 3 bedrooms or 4? And how many bathrooms? You’ve always wanted a butler pantry to go with your Hampton façade, and a big, open plan living-dining area. Building somewhere warm? Might want to have sliding doors and a larger front door to let plenty of air-flow through. But you could also add ducted air-conditioning as an extra, and maybe raised ceilings too! What about the finer details? You probably didn’t think that many shades of white could exist! What type and colour carpet would you like? And are these tap heads to your liking? It might seem overwhelming, and there’s a good chance you’ll be exhausted with decision fatigue through the process, but the upside is you can really get what you want.

More change to packages can often mean a more expensive build. But if this is your second or third home, you might be looking to get exactly what you want this time, no matter the cost. We also know plenty of people who want their ‘forever-home’ for their first home - they moved from rental to rental and just don’t want to deal with the moving process anymore. These are some other factors to consider when thinking about standalone houses.

Townhouses

Townhouses really can strike the sweet spot between standalone houses and apartments. You typically get a house, with limitations. Some of these include at least one shared wall on one side of the property. Townhouses can often have shared walls on either side; now, noise can play a factor here, which is what most people think about. Usually the fire walls between townhouses cuts the vast majority of noise out, so you’ll rarely hear your neighbours, but a more noticeable factor is the windows and natural light you won’t have with a shared wall.

Townhouses are almost always entirely off the plan, no changes or choices in the layout or design. Instead, the choice comes when choosing between different townhouses within a given estate. The townhouse three doors down from the one you’re looking at might have a different layout and sized yard. There’s a benefit here, and that’s what you see is what you get - with less customising and changing comes little to no hidden costs. Upgrades and changes may still be available, but it really varies from estate to estate.

Townhouses also offer smaller yards, or sometimes a courtyard as a replacement to a backyard you’d get with a standalone house. Again, this might seem like a downside, but it depends on your circumstance - for many first home buyers, townhouses require far less maintenance than standalone houses. If you have a big backyard, you also have to mow it. Many maintenance jobs are also not required to be serviced by you.

This where the next factor comes in - the body corporate for a townhouse estate. When you’re in a standalone house - everything is up to you. But when it comes to townhouses, you’ll pay fees to the body corporate who have a number of responsibilities. Again, this can vary from one estate to another, but typically, body corporates will be responsible for: maintaining the common property of the estate you live in (i.e. gardens & greens, roads and pathways, and communal facilities such as parking lots, pools, etc.); managing some insurance on behalf of owners, such as building insurance and insurance of common property; establishing and enforcing their own rules, otherwise known as by-laws that owners must adhere to; deciding payments made by the owner in order to maintain the body corporate.

This sounds like a lot of red tape, but the idea of a body corporate is to help protect and manage your space for you. The added benefit here is that as an owner, you’re a stakeholder and you get to have a say in proposed changes at body corporate meetings. When disputes and issues arise, it’s good to know where you stand and to have a group handle issues and represent you through an established process.

Apartments

Apartments, like townhouses, are part of an established, group development, and as such come with a body corporate. Since we covered body corporates just above, let’s pe into apartments themselves.

Unlike standalone houses or townhouses, won’t come with a backyard, or even a front yard, and typically have all walls shared, up down, side-to-side. But this makes them no worse than a traditional dwelling; in fact, they’re a very popular property for a variety of people. Apartments typically bring thoughts of singles or DINK couples in cities with well-paying jobs and very active social lives. While this may be true to some degree, there are many benefits of apartment living that may attract a broader spectrum of folks. In the same trend of a house versus a townhouse, an apartment is a smaller space, which typically means less upkeep and maintenance. This is a great benefit for first-time buyers and older couples alike. If you’re not used to the work that comes with maintaining a property, or if you’re just physically unable to as much anymore, apartments are a great fit. Do you live alone or with your significant other, maybe a small pet or child? An apartment is another great option for you if you’re not looking to expand in the near future. An added bonus of being up on the 12th floor is the view from your balcony. And since apartments are becoming more commonplace outside of cities, there’s a good chance you’ll have a beautiful view to wake up and close the day to.

Another great perk of apartments is that they often have communal facilities and businesses attached or within walking distance for you to enjoy. Many apartment complexes will have gyms, pools and saunas that only residents can access, and have cafes and eateries in the lobby or close by.

Duplexes vs. Dual Keys

The final two property types are quite similar, so it’s important to make a distinction between the two. The key difference is that a duplex is two residences with two separate titles on one block of land, while a dual key is a single residence constructed to accomodate two separate residents.

Duplexes

Duplexes can be great investment properties. You get two separate titles, can move in two seperate residents/families and have two revenue streams. You can sell one, or both, and usually turn a healthy profit on each. Buying one side of a duplex can also be a great option if you’re a prospective owner-occupier - they’re not just best for investors. Duplexes carry some similarities to townhouses. There are two separate properties, with two separate titles, but they share a piece of land and typically share a wall. Because duplexes have common property, typically the driveway, every duplex must have a body corporate. Similar to townhouse and apartment estates, common property is maintained by the body corporate, including insurance of the outside of the duplex being managed by the body corporate. Because of the unique set up of duplexes only being two separate titles on shared land, managing how the body corporate is set up is typically easier as you only have two parties. There are multiple ways to structure the body corporate, but the main two ways are through a third party or self-managed. A third party usually makes things a bit more official, holding meetings and recording minutes; it may be better having a third party body corporate if both owners have renters occupying, effectively making four parties. Self-managed body corporates tend to be more of a necessary formality, where most necessities are just agreed upon between the two owners; this may work better if both title owners are owner-occupiers.

The reason a duplex is so attractive to an investor, is the ability to make instant equity through the small development. For example, if you purchase land at $300,000 the build costs $500,000. The total cost would be $800,000. 

Once they’re strata titled and registered as two seperate dwellings. Each side could be valued at $500,000. Giving the investor a total profit of $200,000 for financing the build. 

The investor may choose to hold onto the duplex and get a strong rental return or sell one or both sides for profit. 

Dual Key

Another great option for investors - dual key homes are a single property that are constructed to be two separate dwellings. This is great because the rent income can be effectively doubled, which will help recuperate the cost of the property. Dual key homes can also be excellent for for owner-occupiers. Perhaps you have friends or family who need a place to rent. Dual key options allow you to have friends and family live alongside you but not compromise in privacy. Dual keys, also sometimes referred to as dual-living or dual occupancy, can come if a few different layouts; however, they are typically side-by-side dwellings, each side typically having 2-3 bedrooms, 1-2 bathrooms and a single-car garage.

Summary

No matter your decision, buying a home is often a great investment. Regardless of market fluctuation, most properties will typically gain in value over time. To recap, there are five main types of property:

● House and Land - standalone, fully self-contained property.

● Townhouse - House with shared wall(s), part of body corp estate with some shared

property.

● Apartment - A smaller dwelling part of a multi-storey complex, usually with facilities and

balcony.

● Duplex - Two conjoined properties with separate titles with some common property. Has a

body corporate.

● Dual Key - A standalone, single title house constructed to be two separate dwellings.

Whichever way you move forward in your real estate journey, we hope this has helped to clarify some of the key difference between the five main property types.

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