Guide to Canada Houses

Shopping for Canada houses?

Are you unsure what house to buy and which type of house is a more profitable from the investment point of view?

You probably have two main questions - How to choose location, and what type of house your family needs.

Read this guide to most popular house types in Canada.

All of them have their strengths and weaknesses that you need to know about to make an informed decision.

Single-Family Detached Houses

Real estate Toronto - a picture of a Bungalow

There are two types of detached Canada houses - a bungalow and a two-story house.

There are also three-story houses and split-back types of houses, but we will call them conditionally two-story as opposed to bungalow.

This is the most popular type of Canada houses. Not only is it the most comfortable house to live in, it also makes a great investment property.

Detached Canada houses are built on lots larger than the house itself, which adds a backyard and a front yard to the property.

All types of detached Canada houses have another level - a basement. House owners often use basements as libraries, pool rooms, or turn them into basement apartments and rent out.

Basement Apartment
Real estate Toronto - a picture of a Basement Apartment

Or, they buy a house and turn it out entirely into a house for rent.

Finished basement apartments usually look like regular apartments, but they are a bit darker because of the smaller windows. They usually have a toilet, a shower, one or two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen.

Often, basement apartments have a separate entrance, so the tenants might never meet the homeowners. But this is not a rule - many basement tenants use the same doors as homeowners.

Pros of detached houses, whether bungalow or two-story:

Two-Story Detached
Real estate Toronto - a picture of a Two-Story Detached House
  • With the exception of certain municipal bylaws that the home owners need to follow, they are free to do anything with the property. They can sell part of the lot, tear down the house and build a new one, change the landscape design, etc.

  • The house is isolated from other properties - there are no shared walls. This leaves more room for privacy.

  • They make a great investment property. Thanks to the lot the house is built on, the market price of detached houses grows faster than that of other types of houses.

  • The price per square foot for detached houses is much lower than for other types of properties.

Cons of detached Canada houses:

Their high maintenance expenses.

Semi-detached Canada houses

Two-Story Semi-detached
Real estate Toronto - a picture of a Two-Story Semi-Detached house

Semi-detached houses are built on two adjoined lots and share a wall. This type of houses is less popular in Canada than detached houses.

Pros of semi-detached houses:

  • One great advantage is that semi-detached houses are more accessible than detached homes. Their price is lower than the price of a detached house in the same neighborhood.
  • Semi-detached houses give their owners many of the same conveniences as a detached house - an opportunity to have land, relatively large living space, although shared with a neighbor.

Cons of semi-detached Canada houses:

  • From an investment point of view it is much less interesting - their price doesn't grow as fast.

  • The owner does not have complete freedom as to what he can do with the house and the lot. They can sell it, but cannot demolish and rebuild the house, as they need to coordinate their actions with a neighbor with whom they share a wall.

  • The lot the house is built on is usually small. This is the main reason why semi-detached houses are built: to accommodate a relatively large area of the house on a small area.

  • Shared space (a driveway, for example) can be a source of conflict with the neighbor.

Duplex and Triplex houses

Real estate Toronto - a picture of a Duplex house

Duplex and triplex houses are actually dwellings units, or apartments with separate entrances for two and three families correspondingly.

Sometimes the apartments are two-story and located side by side, and sometimes they are one story and located on top of each other.

Typically, a duplex has one owner and are bought with the purpose of renting out the apartments. Sometimes the owner lives in one apartment, and rents out the other one (or two). This is the simplest kind of rental apartment building.

Pros of duplex and triplex houses:

  • This type of Canada houses allows the owner to have a stable income. This type of housing is bought primarily for the rental income.

Cons of duplex and triplex houses:

  • The focus on renting out the apartments had one main disadvantage - is it not a comfortable living space for its owners.
  • Usually these houses do not look very neat as the owners try to save money on their maintenance

Canada Houses - Townhouses

Townhouses in North York
Real estate Toronto - a picture of Townhouses in North York neighborhood

Townhouse is actually a complex of apartments that are adjacent to each other and share common walls, and are combined into one building. Usually Canadian townhouses consist of 2-3 floors, and have a basement. Each apartment occupies all two-three floors.

Townhouses in Canada have two forms of ownership: a freehold, when the owner of the townhouse apartment is responsible for its maintenance; and a condominium, when the owner owns only the interior of the unit, while the building is owned by a condominium corporation.

In case of condominium ownership, the owner pays monthly fees to the condominium administration for general maintenance and repairs.

Condominium townhouses are also called "condos", which means the type of ownership rather than the type of dwelling.

Typically, each townhouse unit has its own small plot of land - a backyard.

Pros of townhouses:

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  • Townhouses are among most popular types of Canada Houses, primarily because they are relatively cheap compared to detached houses.
  • Another great advantage of townhouses is their low maintenance costs.
  • Townhouses are easy rent out.

Are you looking to buy a townhouse with the view to rent it out?

Then you should buy them in the areas adjacent to the centre of the city, close to subway stations or highways, near universities or near major centers a large number of employees (for example, near hospitals) - then it will be easier to find tenants.

Cons of townhouses:

  • Absence of a large plot of land, resulting in the limited personal space.

  • Townhouse owners are not free to rebuild or finish the building (except for internal alterations, if it does not harm the owners of other apartment units).

  • In terms of investment, townhouses are not the best option, except when it's located in a very good area in the right neighborhood, and the quality of the house is very good - then it can be considered a good investment. Otherwise, it's just an affordable and convenient accommodation.

In recent years, townhouses along with high-rise condominiums have become very popular types of Canada Houses. This is especially true for townhouses located in areas adjacent to the cultural and business centers, that have a convenient layout and good appearance.

Townhouses located in good areas are significantly more expensive than the conventional townhouses in residential areas. They are, however, a good alternative to detached houses (which in these areas are usually not approachable due to a very high price).

Condo apartments in high-rise condominiums

Condominiums in Downtown Toronto
Real estate Toronto - a picture of condominiums in Downtown

Fore example, in Toronto, high-rise condominiums Toronto are built in the key points of the city, close to cultural and business centers, to subways stations, highways, etc. This makes condos very attractive.

Pros of buying condos:

  • Condominium offers its residents a lot of amenities, such as a swimming pool, gym, terraces and lounges, where you can spend your free time.

  • A second attractive aspect is that the the tenants should not worry about the maintenance of the purchased property - all the maintenance work is done by the administration of the condominium.

  • Another advantage is that it is easier to rent out a condo than a house.

Important! Renting out condos in Canada is not a lucrative business. Often, the income received from renting barely covers the expenses: mortgage fees, condo fees and property tax. cost of the owner of a condominium in its content (condo fee). The only profitable aspect of renting condos is the fact that tenants "buy" this property for you.

Cons of buying a condo:

  • One of the biggest drawbacks of this type of property is that area in condos is much smaller compared to detached Canada Houses and townhouses.

  • The second drawback is the relatively high monthly fees (condo fee), that the tenants have to pay each month for building maintenance and administration.

  • And another important drawback: from the investment point of view, condominiums are not always attractive, as their price depends on the location of the building, its architecture, how well it's maintained, how good the administration is. In times of economic crises in the housing market, condos are the first to be affected, especially in the least desirable neighborhoods.

To end our discussion of Canada houses we can mention a possibility to purchase an apartment in a multi-story rental apartment building. Typically, these apartments are much smaller than condos, and its maintenance is also cheaper.

However, the quality of this type of housing is not very high, and the degree of comfort is lower compared to other types of housing. For this reason, purchase of apartments in apartment buildings is extremely rare in practice.

On the page Canada Houses I used materials written by Helen Riabinin, Sales Representative, Century 21 St.Andrew's Realty Inc. for Russian Toronto.

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