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Hello Experts, What defines a multi-family property?

Hello Experts,

What defines a multi-family property? I was told by a realtor that for a property to be considered a multi-family property, the building must have an entrance (or entrances) through which all individual occupants can access their respective homes.  Where as a block of homes that are attached to each other cannot qualify to be multi-family properties and have to be considered single family homes.

I am looking to invest in 2-4 unit multi-family properties in Florida and I had asked about a particular type (town houses) that had a garage for each unit in the back and a separate entrance to each unit.  In this case it was a block of four units.

Could it be that this only pertains to the Orlando, FL area?

Thanks

  • July 23 2014 - Orlando
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Answers (5)

A semantics issue that really can't even be sorted out by experts. A "multifamily property" is one piece of land that is zoned for multiple families to live on, in separated, or attached, buildings. A "multifamily building", which is what the OP thinks they want to buy, would have to exist on a multifamily property. This would have to be, in order to use the financing desired, a single title that covers up to four living units. The "town-home" scenario they mention would not meet the definition unless two of them were attached on one titled parcel of land. That is not the normal case for "town-homes", in SC. Town-homes each have their own land title. You could build a duplex town-home, and that was a trend, briefly, during the RE boom, mostly due to absurd zoning that would allow for two units on one unit sized lots, if the were attached together. This may have been a trend elsewhere, too. The trend ended really badly, even considering the overall badness of the boom's end, around here. Those developments are essentially rental slums, about now.

Pasadenan did a heck of a job clarifying the topic, as usually is the case. Thumb!
  • July 24 2014
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Multi-family is any property or properties with more than one unit whether shared entrance or separate entrances, single parcel or combined. The only difference in multi-family is the difference between multi-family residential which is under 5 units and multi-unit commercial which is 5 or more units. 4 townhome units together would be considered multi-family if sold together but the lender may have differenct requirements if the units are separately parceled. Check with your lender to make sure they would consider them multi-unit for the type of financing you are doing if separately parceled i.e. FHA or conventional.
  • July 24 2014
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They will be zoned multi-family in the county records. What you are talking about is not considered multi family as each property is going to be deeded as a seperate unit, and then the garage is a part of that unit (even though my not be attached).
  • July 24 2014
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
If you are asking about "row housing", that are "connected", it depends on where the lot-lines are.  Typically they are actually separate structures built lot-line to lot line, but they can share a common wall.

As for "separate entrance"?  Apartment buildings can have common corridors and main entry and second exit; but the individual units still have their own entry and emergency exit, even if not to the exterior on the main entry, but through the "common corridors".  Typically more fire protection is required for such buildings.

Regardless, all bedrooms must have an emergency second exit, even if that is just a window.  There are some exceptions for medical facilities that are fully sprinklered and have staff on hand 24 hours for assisting  occupants.
  • July 23 2014
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Profile picture for Blue Nile
It is all related to "zoning" and legal definition of parcels.  Single Family has their own land, not shared with other housing, except in the case of "back houses", "servants quarters" or other grandfathered in dwelling units on Single Family lots.

Condos don't have their own land, but they have their own "air parcel" recorded in the county records.

Multi-family properties are zoned for 2 or more units on the lot, and have more than one LEGAL dwelling unit, whether apartments or duplexes, or town-homes or separate structures.  In some cases, they were single family homes that were re-zoned for multi-family, and the homes were subdivided into separate dwelling units by providing additional entrances and egress and kitchens and bathrooms.


  • July 23 2014
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