What Does Detached Mean in Real Estate?

by Trudy Brunot ; Updated June 30, 2018
What Does Detached Mean in Real Estate?

Housing comes in many shapes and sizes. Real estate listings can describe a dwelling's architecture in terms of roofline such as mansard, or characteristics such as Queen Anne, which features a turret that distinguishes it from being simply Victorian. Descriptions also denote building style in terms of proximity to other structures. The term "detached" represents a common way to explain that a property stands alone.

Detached vs. Attached House

The real estate industry refers to single-family homes that sit on their own lot without sharing any walls with another home or building as detached residences. Attached housing, on the other hand, shares walls on both sides with another home. Americans have consistently preferred single-family home ownership over other types of housing, although such structures are more common in the suburbs than in most cities. Detached housing provides distance between neighbors, a greater sense of privacy and more floor space than attached housing.

Semi-Attached House

A home can be semi-attached if it shares only one outside wall with another home. The two residences in a duplex are each semi-attached because they have a common wall on one side. Semi-detached homes generally give owners less living space than fully detached housing and may require a more diplomatic approach to neighbor relations. If you reside in a duplex, such a home viewed as one structure on a single lot can be referred to as a semi-detached building.

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Detached Condominium

Another type of detached housing, the detached condo, combines a single-family detached home with the ownership format of a condominium. According to MSN Real Estate, detached condos offer owners a more homey feel to condo life and give municipalities an attractive alternative to traditional, high-density housing developments. Like condominium owners, detached condo owners pay association dues. Unlike owners of single-family detached homes, they may not own the land their dwelling sits on, just the building.

Detached Garage

The term "detached" also applies to garages associated with residences. Attached garages did not become common in homes until after the Second World War, so a house with a detached garage is usually an older residence. A detached garage sits apart from the house, often adjacent to an alley behind it. While you can't enter the garage directly from the house, these structures have advantages. They don't sap residential heat or pose a fume hazard.

About the Author

Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.

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