Multifamily housing is also known as multi-dwelling units or MDUs, but no matter what you call them, they are all pretty much the same.  A multifamily house is generally classified as housing units that are separated for residential use by multiple families living in one building or several buildings within a complex.  In other words, it’s essentially a house where each floor is made for one family, consisting of a bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms, etc.

Multifamily housing is generally called apartment buildings, but can also take the form of condos where the units are owned rather than rented out or leased.  Other iterations of multifamily housing include co-housing projects and other facilities meant to house multiple families in one building.


Types of Multifamily Housing

There are many different types of multifamily housing on the market.  Whether you are looking to buy or looking to rent, the type of house will dictate how much you spend (and if you’re a buyer, how much you can make renting it out).  Regardless, multifamily housing provides an affordable way for families to live whether it be in the city or the suburbs.  Multifamily housing is a good choice for investors as well since there is a high demand for affordable housing that isn’t your typical studio apartment or rented room.

Here’s a look at the different types of multifamily housing that are generally available:


A Two Story Multifamily House

These housing units generally share a basement, front entrance, foyer, backyard, front yard and stairs leading up to the second floor.  The first floor consists of a full apartment for one family and the second floor consists of a complete apartment for a second family.  It is required for each unit to have an external entrance otherwise it is considered a single unit.  Two story multifamily housing is often owned by one of the families living in the housing while the empty floor is rented out.


A Three Story Multifamily House

Similar to the two story multifamily housing unit, the three story simply has an extra apartment for another family.  These units are more common in cities and can vary in name (e.g. in New York City they are called Brownstones).  Great for extended families.  The owner may or may not stay in one of the apartments.


A Four Story Multifamily House

As you can probably guess, this is simply a four story house built for four families.  This is approaching the mini-high rise status of smaller apartments, but the main difference is that instead of having more apartments on each floor, there is only one per floor, meaning one family per floor.  This provides more living space per family and a more “homey” environment rather than your typical apartment or project building environment.  Generally speaking, these are pure rentals with the owner living off grounds. The lot of land around these types of multifamily housing units is generally larger than two and three story units.



Also called a semi-detached, this is simply one building that consists of two houses.  The houses are separate and are most likely side by side. Each house has separate entrances and don’t share any common areas on the inside of the homes. The owners of the homes are normally not related or affiliated in any way.



Townhouses are attached to other houses which have multiple floors.  Each of these houses have separate entrances and can have its own owner.  End units are generally more desirable in townhouses since they only have one shared wall with their neighbor.


Apartment Building

One of the most common forms of multifamily housing, apartment buildings have multiple apartments for multiple families on each floor.  There is often at least three floors to apartment buildings and there can be up dozens of floors in high-rise apartments.  Coming in many sizes with many different features, apartment buildings can house as many families as there are apartments.  The hallways, stairs and elevators are shared as are the main entrances and exits to the building.  Some apartment buildings also offer shared fitness centers, basements, rooftops and washer and dryer facilities.  Each apartment has it’s own separate entrance from the inside of the building and might contain separate outside entrances as well (i.e. patios, fire escapes, etc.).  Apartment buildings are generally owned by one person or company and then rented out to multiple families.


Apartment Communities

If a collection of apartment buildings are all owned by one landowner, they become a community and often share amenities such as parking areas, pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, BBQ pits, picnic areas, lakes, trails, leasing offices, community centers, etc.  Generally much nicer places to live as opposed to single apartment buildings due to the sense of community.


There are many investment opportunities to be had with multifamily housing.  Do visit right now to find out more about them.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way - June 11, 2014

My in-laws just bought a condo unit in a capital city of our country. The price was pretty high, but for me, I would prefer to buy a multifamily house, a townhouse to be exact. The townhouse is much lesser than the condo and with less maintenance.


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