What Does Multifamily Mean Anyway?

apartment complexSometimes I’m guilty of getting so caught up in the details of buying, selling and investing in Minneapolis and St Paul duplexes, that I overlook the obvious.

For example?

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to define or explain the term “multifamily”.

Multifamily properties include duplexes, triplexes and apartment buildings with four or more units.

Logic dictates that condominium buildings and townhouse developments should be considered multifamily properties as well. However, they actually fall under the category of single family homes.


The answer lies in the fine print.

Even though more than one family lives in those units, the difference lies in each property’s identification number with the county. Townhomes and condominiums each have their own property identification number so they may be sold individually. And when someone buys that unit, that identification number follows the unit from one owner to another.

Townhouse developments have as many property identification numbers as there are owners.

And while multifamily properties may have just as many residents as a townhouse complex, there is only one property identification number, and one owner, making it a single property with multiple families living there.