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Welcome to Southwest Florida Real Estate

Demystifying Developer Descriptions
By Mark M Washburn

One of the more difficult aspects of house hunting can be demystifying the different terms developers and realtors use to describe a style of home. Here are some common terms widely used in Southwest Florida real estate listings.


A condominium is a complex or building consisting of many living units, which are each owned by individuals. The common areas of the complex or building, such as the parking lot, the land and the amenities built on the land, are jointly owned by the unit owners. A condominium also refers to the specific unit in the complex or building. In contrast to townhouses, condos are typically one floor and do not include any individual land ownership.


Less expensive than single family homes

Low maintenance lifestyle - easy to clean and keep-up

Maintenance fees cover common area maintenance including roof repair and replacement, exterior maintenance

Often includes amenities such as a community pool


Noise from neighbors through shared walls

Association fees and politics

No associated land ownership


Townhouse or Townhome

Characterized by two-story construction, a townhouse is one of a row of homes sharing a common wall or walls. Differing from condominiums, townhouse ownership does include individual ownership of the land. There can also be common elements, such as a central courtyard, that would have shared ownership.


Less expensive than single family homes

No neighbors above or below

Often includes a small fenced yard

Low maintenance lifestyle - fees cover common area maintenance, including roof repair and replacement, exterior maintenance

Often includes amenities such as a community pool


Noise from neighbors through shared walls

Homeowners' association fees and politics

A townhome or townhouse will typically have a small yard or no yard

Might have common stairwells

Carriage Home or Coach Home

Both terms are commonly used but describe essentially the same offering -- a dwelling with an attached garage. Many times the garage is on the ground floor and living is on the floors above the garage. Carriage or coach homes can also be on a single level and have an adjacent garage. The term "Carriage House" refers to a building from the days when transportation required horse carriages. A carriage or coach house was a sort of garage in which the horse and carriage were stored, separate from the house.


The term villa used to conjure up images of a luxurious country home on extensive grounds. According to Wikipedia, the term has now evolved to describe a detached or semi-detached suburban home that is free-standing in a landscaped plot of ground, as opposed to a 'terrace' of joined houses. The villa concept lives on in Florida, Southern Europe, and Latin America as being associated with a prestigious social position and lifestyle.

Mark Washburn is a real estate agent serving the Greater Fort Myers area. Mark understands the changing market and can help you find value in the Southwest Florida Real Estate Market.

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