Single Family Homes and second residences

A single-family home also called a single-detached dwelling, single-family residence (SFR) or separate house is a free-standing residential building. It is defined in opposition to a multi-family residential dwelling.

The definition of this type of house may vary between legal jurisdictions or statistical agencies. The definition, however, generally includes two elements:

  • a single-family (home, house, or dwelling) means that the building is usually occupied by just one household or family, and consists of just one dwelling unit or suite. In some jurisdictions allowances are made for basement suites or mother-in-law suites without changing the description from “single family”. It does exclude, however, any short-term accommodation (hotel, motels, inns), large-scale rental accommodation (rooming or boarding houses, apartments), or condominium.

When purchasing a second home, you may need a higher credit score to qualify, and you might receive a higher interest rate due to increased risk for the lender. On the other hand, it may be that neither of these things happen – each situation is different. A second home has the following characteristics:

  • It must be a reasonable distance from your primary residence.
  • It must be exclusively under your control and not subject to a rental, timeshare or property management agreement.
  • You must live there at some time during the year. While someone else can live in your home other than yourself, some lenders may place limits on how long the home is occupied without you living there.
  • The property must be accessible by car year-round.
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