Single vs. Multi-Family Homes: Assessing Differences in Property Management & Maintenance

As property owners weigh their housing options, many consider the differences between single-family and multi-family homes. These concerns extend beyond living arrangements because property management and maintenance are involved.

For individuals looking to invest in a property or homeowners seeking assistance with property maintenance, your search for “residential contractors near me” ends here.

Single-Family Homes vs. Multi-Family Homes

Single-Family Homes

A single-family home is a standalone residential property designed for a single-family or household. Here are key features and considerations of this type of house:

  • Ownership. An individual or a family commonly owns detached houses. It grants exclusive rights to the entire property, including the land it occupies.
  • Privacy. They offer a higher level of privacy as they’re not attached to other properties. This allows you to enjoy your yards and space without intrusion.
  • Maintenance. As the sole owner, you are responsible for all the interior and exterior maintenance and repairs.
  • Customization. They provide the flexibility to customize and personalize the property based on your preferences and lifestyle.
  • Appreciation Potential. These houses have the potential for long-term value appreciation, which can benefit accruing equity over time.

Multi-Family Properties

Multi-family properties are residential buildings or complexes that accommodate multiple separate living units. Here are the necessary factors of multi-family properties:

  • Rental Income. You can rent out various units. This can provide a steady cash flow and return on investments.
  • Diversified Risk. With multiple units, the risk spreads out. Even if one unit is vacant or has financial issues, income from the other units can lessen the impact.
  • Property Management. It’s more tricky as it involves dealing with multiple tenants, addressing maintenance requests, and potentially hiring property management services.
  • Shared Amenities. Depending on the property, multi-family units may share amenities such as parking areas, laundry facilities, fitness centers, or outdoor spaces.
  • Higher Investment Potential. Multi-family properties can be an attractive investment option due to the potential for generating rental income and building a portfolio of properties.

Responsibilities and Challenges

Home Type Responsibilities Challenges
Single-Family Homes Focus on one property for personalized care.Build close relationships with tenants.Handle all property repairs and yard work.Manage tenant screening, lease negotiations, and rent collection.Follow local housing laws. Risk of income loss during long vacancies.High costs for maintenance and repairs.Difficulty in cost distribution compared to multi-family homes.
Multi-Family Homes Manage multiple tenants and their needs.Maintain common areas and amenities.Coordinate repairs for multiple units.Establish shared utility policies.Navigate stricter housing regulations. Higher tenant turnover and potential vacancies.Increased costs for shared space upkeep.More complex regulatory challenges.

Maintenance and Tips  

A report shows that homeowners’ average expenditure on maintenance and repairs totalled $6,000 last year. Knowing how to maintain and manage rented property effectively is important for maximizing profitability and minimizing loss of income. 

Single-Family

  • Verify Fire and Security Systems and Stock Supplies

Ensure home safety and prepare for potential power outages. Test security system functionality, replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and check fire extinguisher expiration dates.

  • Maintain Landscaping

Regularly tend to lawn and flower beds to prevent hazards like pests and fire risks. Trim landscaping to keep it tidy and discourage unwanted pests.

  • Clean Damp Areas

Monthly scrubbing of bathroom tile and grout can prevent mould and mildew in humid areas. You should inspect fixtures and pipes for leaks or corrosion and repair caulking around showers, sinks, and toilets.

  • Inspect Home Systems

Check HVAC system filters monthly for cleanliness, especially in colder months. In autumn, turn off outdoor faucets and consider winterizing water systems.

  • Monitor Plumbing

Regularly inspect plumbing for damage, such as discolouration, cracks, or buildup. Unclog drains to prevent backups and address running toilets promptly.

  • Check Gutters

Inspect and clear gutters regularly to prevent water damage. Remove leaves and debris to ensure proper drainage, especially during fall when leaves accumulate.

Multi-Family

  • Repair and Maintenance

Maintain cleanliness and address repairs regularly. Use previous maintenance records and assess prior upkeep for cost insights. 

  • Snow Removal

Inquire with local companies about maintaining parking lots, sidewalks, and other outdoor common areas.

  • Utilities in Common Areas

Ensure clear and safe lighting in common areas, including water for the pool and fountains and electricity and gas for heating and air conditioning.

  • Trash and Recycling Removal

Landlords commonly cover waste removal costs. 

  • HVAC Maintenance

Maintain heating and cooling in common areas to avoid costly repairs.

Residential Property Costs in Canada

A Statista survey report reveals that in early 2023, the average sale price for detached single-family homes in Canada was about 656,000 Canadian dollars. However, prices varied widely across different areas. For instance, homes in Vancouver cost more than twice the national average, which makes it one of the priciest markets. 

On the other hand, Saint John offered the most affordable housing, with the average price for a similar home around 337,000 Canadian dollars. Across Canada, condominium apartments sold for less on average than detached homes.

Other Cities with Affordable Homes

In terms of affordability, Alberta and Quebec stood out, particularly in cities like Quebec City and Edmonton. 

Smaller cities with populations under 250,000—including Regina in Saskatchewan, Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, and Fredericton in New Brunswick—also presented many affordable housing options. 

Alberta’s average home price was CA$449,362, below the national average, with Quebec’s average at CA$467,108, also more affordable than British Columbia.

Are Single-Family Homes More Expensive?

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average home price in Canada hit a record of $816,720 in February 2022, over nine times the average household income. This contrasted with the U.S., where home prices increased by 27% during the same timeframe to an average of US$375,300, as the National Association of Realtors reported.

Saving for a down payment in Vancouver and Toronto is particularly challenging. The National Bank of Canada calculated that an average household saving 10% of their income would need 431 months in Vancouver and 340 months in Toronto to afford a minimum down payment on a non-condominium home. 

Still Weighing Your Options?

When deciding to invest in a single-family home or a multi-family property, you must consider the different management and maintenance options. Understanding these differences can help you maximize your real estate investments. 

If you need help with home renovations, building, or planning, consider contacting Major Homes Ltd.’s custom home builders. We can help you choose the right property and offer the assistance you’re looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have pets in both single-family and multi-family homes?

It depends on the rules and regulations of the property or community association. Single-family homes may have more lenient pet policies, while multi-family dwellings may have restrictions or additional pet fees.

What do I do if the project exceeds budget or the deadline?

If your project goes over budget or past the deadline, follow these steps:

  1. Check the Contract. Look for clauses about delays or extra costs.
  2. Talk to the Contractor. Discuss reasons for the delay or extra costs and ask for a new plan.
  3. Adjust the Project. Consider changing the project scope to manage costs or time.
  4. Negotiate. Try to compromise with the contractor for the additional work or time needed.
  5. Keep an Eye on Progress. Monitor the project closely after agreeing on a new plan.
  6. Get Legal Advice. You may need to consult a lawyer if you can’t resolve the issue.

How does property location affect my choice between single and multi-family homes?

  • Demand. In cities, many people prefer renting apartments in multi-family homes. In quieter areas, single-family homes might be more popular.
  • Growth in Value. Some places are better for increasing the value of single-family homes, while multi-family homes can also be a good investment in growing neighbourhoods.
  • Rules. Local laws may limit what type of property you can have.
  • Community Preferences. Families might look for single-family homes in the suburbs, and singles or small households might want apartments in the city.
  • Ease of Management. Managing a single-family home is usually simpler, but multi-family homes in busy areas might bring in more money for the effort.

Can I live in one unit of a multi-family home and rent out the others?

Yes, you can live in one unit of a multi-family home and rent out the others. This approach, often called “house hacking,” can help offset your living expenses or even turn a profit by using the rental income from the other units to cover the mortgage, maintenance, and other property-related costs. It’s a popular strategy for first-time homebuyers and experienced investors to reduce personal living costs and gain investment experience.

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