Benefits: A single-family home may be spacious or small, but generally offers more than one bedroom and bathroom and some sort of outdoor space. Unless you are in a private community, single-family homes do not come with homeowners association (HOA) fees and you can choose the exterior design and style of landscaping. This type of flexibility can be great for someone who likes do-it-yourself projects. Or, if you have the funds to hire a landscaper, snow removal services and repair personnel, you can live in a single-family home comfortably.
Drawbacks: Single-family homes offer a great deal of privacy, but without an association you have no control over your neighbors. Consequently, there is not much you can do if the person next door has 12 cats, two broken-down cars and a boat in their yard. If that worries you, consider a private community, which will have an HOA that has rules for maintenance and may offer landscaping and security as part of a monthly fee.
Benefits: Condos units are individually-owned, but common areas and amenities are shared by all tenants. Luxuries that you may not find in a single- or multi-family home, such as tennis courts, swimming pools, parking garages, elevators and security, can commonly be found in condominium buildings. Condos are generally best for people who enjoy maintenance-free living and are not afraid of having many neighbors around.
Drawbacks: Depending on the amenities, HOA fees can be pricey, especially in condominium buildings that have a roof deck or a pool due to high insurance costs. Neighbors are plentiful in condo buildings and can face fines if they are loud or dirty, but a really bad neighbor can be hard to lose. Condo buildings that are less than 50% owner-occupied can be a cause for concern depending on the behavior of the renters. If space is an issue, a single-family home may be a better bet than a condo. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the median size of a newly-built condo was 1,355 square-feet in 2008 versus an average of 2,438 square-feet for a new single-family home finished in 2009.
Benefits: A multi-family home is defined as having between two and four units, each of which has a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. One of the biggest benefits to living in a multi-family property is you can own the entire building and collect rent from the tenants. If you are part of a group of owners in a multi-family property, you can easily save money on HOA fees by having all tenants pitch in with yard work and other repairs. In many cases, the maintenance on a multi-family property is no greater than a single-family home in Maine.
Drawbacks: It is extremely rare, if not impossible, to find a rental unit that is constantly occupied. So, if you are the landlord, be prepared for downtime when some units will be vacant. And, regardless of whether or not you are an owner or a landlord, be prepared to see and hear your neighbors quite frequently. Size, privacy, location, maintenance and costs are all considerations when choosing what type of housing to purchase. Factor each one according to the level of importance it holds in your lifestyle. Lastly, remember that the Maine housing market can dictate your next move, so no matter how long you plan to stay purchase a home as if it is a long-term investment.