Detached… semi-detached… townhouse…link home… what do these terms mean, and how do I find the right home for me when real estate jargon isn’t always easy to understand?

Whenever you buy a property, I strongly recommend performing your own due diligence (that may include getting a home inspection done), and working closely with your salesperson. That means talking openly about your needs and expectations and getting clarifications for any terms that you don’t fully understand. Your salesperson can best assist you when you know what sort of property fits your lifestyle. Let’s briefly discuss the ones you mentioned in your question.

If you need more space for a growing family, you may want a detached house, which is a single, stand-alone building that is situated on its own lot. As the sole owner of both the house and the land that it’s on, you are responsible for repairs and general upkeep. Detached homes are usually among the more expensive properties on the market, because they provide the greatest degree of privacy, and you own the land on which they’re situated outright. Prices can vary considerably, based on location, lot size, condition, and a number of other factors.

A semi-detached house is a single building that is divided by a common wall into two separate homes. If you buy such a home, you will own your side of the house (including the land it sits on), and you are responsible for repairs and upkeep on your side. A potential down side is it’s hard to say how you’ll get along with your neighbour. This can be an issue when you share a driveway, or if there’s a maintenance issue that affects both units, like a roof that needs work, or noise transmission through the common wall.

A townhouse, or a row-house, is similar to a semi-detached home in the sense that it shares walls with other homes. It’s a unit in a row of other units that are separated by common walls in a long building.

Finally, a link home is something of a hybrid between a detached and a semi-detached house in the sense that it may look like two separate detached homes above-ground, but they share a common foundation underneath. At RECO, we sometimes hear from consumers who purchased one half of a link home thinking they were getting a fully detached house. If you’re selling a link home, you should make sure your salesperson knows this, as it’s important to disclose that fact in the published listing information.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email


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Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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