What is a patio home?

Article Courtesy of  Bankrate

By David McMillin   

Published April 18, 2021


If you’re looking to buy a home, your browsing can turn up a wide range of listings: houses, condos, townhouses and more. In your search for a place that fits your budget, you might come across a type of property known as a patio home.

What is a patio home?

While you might think a “patio home” is simply an obvious description for a home with a patio, that’s not the case.


“Oddly enough, a patio home doesn’t have to have a patio,” explains Christine Dupont-Patz, GRI, Realtor and broker associate at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek in Denver, Colorado, who adds that patio homes are sometimes called garden or cluster homes.

Patio homes are typically part of a community of other patio homes. While they vary in appearance and size, the majority are limited by height, rarely exceeding one-and-a-half stories.

Patio home vs. condo vs. townhouse

A patio home does have one commonality with a condominium and a townhouse: All of these are considered “attached residences,” meaning they share walls with other units.


“Condos often do not own the land directly under the property and can share multiple walls, similar to an apartment,” Dupont-Patz says. “A townhome does own the land under the property and often has multiple levels with units sharing the side walls.”

Like a townhouse, a patio includes the land underneath the property. The difference between these two is what’s above the ground.

“The main difference between a townhome and patio home is that patio homes are on a single level,” Dupont-Patz says, adding that some patio homes extend another half story. “The main living space doesn’t have stairs. A patio home can have a similar layout of a ranch home with smaller square footage.”

How much does a patio home cost?

Like all real estate, the price of a patio home depends on size and location. A three-bedroom patio home on a golf course in Wilmington, North Carolina, has a different price tag than a similar property in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for instance.

Regardless of where you might be considering buying a patio home, know that the list price might look more appealing than a standalone property that isn’t part of a community. There’s a catch, though: You’ll pay HOA fees.

“While a patio home may cost less than a similar single-family ranch home, buyers need to factor in the association fees,” Dupont-Patz says. “Smaller communities may just cover the grounds maintenance. However, larger communities may have pools, tennis courts, clubhouses and other amenities that require substantial fees.”

If you’re thinking about buying a patio home, Dupont-Patz recommends taking a close look at notes from past association meetings, as “that’s often when neighbors discuss any concerns or grievances.”

Who are patio homes best for?

The patio home style is an ideal fit for homeowners who don’t want to deal with stairs.

“Those who may have mobility issues or very young children may require a home with no steps that could be a tripping hazard,” Dupont-Patz says. “They’re very popular for those who are downsizing, and many 55-plus communities have patio homes.”

In addition to the absence of stairs, there is also an absence of maintenance in many patio home communities. Many patio homeowners associations handle landscaping duties, Dupont-Patz says, which negates the need for a lawn mower or garden tools.

Patio home pros and cons

Lower purchase price Additional monthly expenses
Extra amenities Too close to your neighbors
Addresses safety concerns Less space

Because a patio home is smaller, you’ll likely pay less to purchase it compared to other types of properties. Some patio homes are in communities with clubhouses and neighborhood facilities, so you can also take advantage of those features. The height restriction can be valuable, too, since you won’t have to worry about climbing any stairs.

Those extras, however, come with a bigger price tag. Depending on what your patio home community offers, you’ll have to pay more each month in dues.

Plus, if you’re looking for space, a patio home isn’t the best option. You’ll be close to your neighbors in general, and when you want to escape them, you’ll have less room inside to do that.

How to finance a patio home

The process of finding a mortgage lender to help you buy a patio home is similar to the process of getting a loan for a condo, townhouse or single-family property — you can expect the lender to verify your creditworthiness and order an appraisal of the property.

Keep in mind that the lender will make sure you can not only afford to repay the mortgage, but also pay the HOA fees. You can use Bankrate’s affordability calculator to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend.

How to find a patio home

Patio homes aren’t as widely available as other types of properties, but they are cropping up in more developments across the country. As you start your home search, consider working with a local real estate agent who can help point you to patio homes in your area.