Last Updated on March 30, 2024

What Does Property Type Mean? | Real Estate Definition

By Alan F Macdonald

What Does Property Type Mean?

Real estate listing have property types (or building types) fields to describe the kind of property for sale. Also, often people refer to their homes by property type when they describe them to others. For example, someone might say they live in a townhouse, or a half duplex.

Real Estate Agent Explains Property Types

Each kind of property is identified on a listing, and each has its own abbreviation:

Residential Attached ATTCH
Residential Detached Single Family DETCH
Duplex Side By Side DUPSS
Duplex Up And Down DUPUD
Half Duplex HDUP
Tri-Plex 3PLEX
4Plex 4PLEX
Carriage Home CARRI
Detached Condominium DETCO
Apartment (Lowrise) APTLO
Apartment (High Rise) APTHI
Stacked Townhouse STACK
Townhouse TOWNH
Single Wide (Mobile Home) SWIDE
Double Wide (Mobile Home) DWIDE
Timeshare TSHAR
Parking Stall STALL
Vacant Lot VLOT

Property type is the second in a three-tiered categorization system used in the Edmonton real estate MLS system. Here is an example of the way real estate is organized and where property type fits in:

A chart showing how single familty dweillings have different possible styles
A chart showing how single family dwellings can have different styles

In the chart, a single family home has a few possible property types. In this case, the home is a residential detached home, being its own separate structure. Property types are further broken down into property styles as well. Property types fit under the broader category of property class.

Why Does It Matter?

There are of course differences between all the different property types. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some examples: Attached homes do not have condo fees  while townhouse condos do have fees. Detached homes commonly allow for more personal space and privacy than say, half duplexes do – and if you’re looking for a vacant lot, there isn’t much point in checking out triplexes. When buying, real estate searches can be done with a variety of criteria, so you would want to specify the property type you’re looking for. When you’re selling a property, you need to be able to describe what is for sale so that your property is marketed to the appropriate audience.

Also, it should be noted that the accuracy of the MLS system is important for comparative market analyses – to correctly price homes for sale and to make offers to buy real estate. The property type is the second tier in separating homes in real estate searches (property class being the first tier) and you need to know your terms before you can begin your search.

4 thoughts on “What Does Property Type Mean? | Real Estate Definition

  1. in Toronto who decides on the designated legal property type ie: property type “duplex” and how do you legally change the property type of your property

    1. Hi John,

      I am not sure if I am understanding your question quite right, but no one ‘decides’ the property type. Property types are a fact; they are based on the physical and legal characteristics of the property. You cannot change what a duplex is unless you knock down the duplex and rebuild it as two separate houses, for example. They just are what they are. Things could get more complicated with condominiumized properties, because they could be ‘un-condominiumized’ technically because legal definitions could be changeable, but a physical definition is based on the physical characteristics of the property and those can’t be changed unless you change the building into something else.

  2. Hi, if i buy a Single Family house, with basement, there is any restriction to rent the basement for another family and live on the house? Thanks

    1. Hi Fernando, That really depends on where you live. Most municipalities and counties should have rules on this for health and safety reasons. I am in Edmonton and there are strict rules here about separate entrances, fire barriers, separate heating and egress. See my article Choosing the Right Property for a Legal Basement Suite to get some ideas of the issues around basement suites.

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