Multifamily housing is a type of housing arrangement where multiple households live under the same roof, but in separate units usually having their own private entrances. The term multifamily does not mean the units are reserved only for families, as singles often take advantage of this type of housing as well. Common multifamily housing units include apartments, condominiums, multiplexes and townhomes. Some are rented, and others are bought, depending on the arrangement and the individual property.
Those seeking multifamily housing often come from a wide range of backgrounds. Young professionals still trying to establish careers often choose this form of housing as a convenient way to move in and out of an area as they search for better opportunities. Older couples who's children who have moved out, and who no longer need the space of a large home, could also find multifamily housing an attractive option. Families that cannot afford a down payment on a home or who like having a pool and playground area nearby, also often choose this type of living arrangement.
For those individuals interested in buying a condominium, multiplex or townhome, they may find some other fees associated with ownership. For example, condominiums and townhomes often have association fees, which cover things like enforcement of standards, landscaping, and upkeep of the exterior of the buildings. Therefore, when considering what payment an individual family may be able to afford, it is wise to also consider these other fees as part of that cost.
The benefits of multifamily housing units are numerous. First, the landlord or condominium association often pays for the upkeep of landscaping and amenities. Second, those who need to move can often do so easily, because they do not have any home to sell. Third, these communities are often places for socialization where friendships can easily develop. In some cases, utilities and garbage service may be included in the rent or association fees.
Along with those benefits, there are also some downsides to multifamily housing. Living in close proximity to many others entails a certain lack of privacy. Noise from neighboring dwellings is a common complaint. If one person is being irresponsible, other people's units could be at risk because of water or fire damage. Also, the ability to modify the property is extremely limited, due to the landlord's or association's prohibitions.
Multifamily listings can be found in a number of different places. For rentals, apartment guides for local communities offer one place to start a search. Many apartment complexes also maintain websites, complete with floorplans and pricing for different units. For those looking to buy, multifamily housing units can be found on the multiple listing service (MLS), which can be accessed online or through a local real estate agent.