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The terminologies used to define the different types of properties in Florida may raise doubts for buyers who are considering investing in the Sunshine State. After all, what is the difference between condos, townhomes (or townhouses), single-family homes, vacation homes, villas and other names? All are terms that define a type of property or concept. It is important to know how to differentiate them. In this article we explain in detail each terminology and the characteristics of the property to which they refer. Keep reading to understand.


A “condo” or “condominium” is a format of property where you have the ownership of your unit and share the ownership of the common areas: parking, hall, pool, gym, among others. A condominium fee (HOA) is usually charged monthly to each owner for the maintenance of the façade, systems, structure and common areas. Condos have statutes and rules of conviviality, which must be followed by residents.

“Condo” in Florida = apartment building

Although a condominium may consist of homes within a defined area, in Florida the term is most often used for apartments in a vertical building.

The buildings can be huge constructions, like the skyscrapers in Miami or smaller buildings, with few units.

Be careful not to confuse “apartments” with condos. Despite being structurally similar, the word “apartment” refers to apartment condominiums available only for rent (you can’t buy them). Generally, the entire building belongs to a single investor who built it in order to earn rental income. As in condos, the apartment buildings also have common areas, with leisure infrastructure.

Townhomes (Townhouses)

Townhomes are semi-detached houses that usually have the same facade and share one wall with the other.

In Florida, townhomes are usually located inside gated communities with common areas, similar to the condos described above, but they are semi-detached houses and not apartments in vertical buildings.

As in the condos, there is a condominium fee (HOA). The owners are responsible for maintaining the exterior of the unit, which includes the lawn (garden) and the roof of the residence. The common areas, such as parking, sidewalks, leisure areas and others are the responsibility of the Association (HOA).

There are townhomes for any profile or budget, from simple to super luxurious, with different sizes and values.

Single Family Homes

As the name suggests, they are unique houses, that is, separated from each other (not twinned), which brings more privacy and comfort to residents. They are usually residential homes for families. Because they are separate, they are often larger and more expensive than townhomes.

Single Family homes can also be purchased within closed condominiums. In this case, the owners will also be able to enjoy the common areas of the condominium and must pay an HOA fee.

Single Family Homes


The term “Villas” in Florida is very broad and used differently by brokers and developers. They can be townhomes or single-family homes, but within a different concept. They usually refer to a more exclusive property profile with better standard features.

The concept was somewhat deviated from the traditional concept of a “Village” in Italy or a small community within a country. However, most of the time, it tries to bring some principles of the traditional definition.

Other terms used

Vacation Homes

The term “Vacation Home” characterizes the profile of the property and not its architecture. It can be a townhouse or a single-family home. However, when a house is defined as Vacation Home, it means that it can be rented for short periods and, generally, without period restrictions (one day, one week, one month or one year).

I decided to add the term in this article precisely to clarify this common doubt of many buyers and investors in Orlando.

The Orlando region has a specific zoning where seasonal rental is permitted. The city of Kissimmee is best known to vacationers in this sense. There are several Vacation Homes condos (vacation homes) near the parks, which vacationers rent instead of staying in hotels.

Vacation Homes are an excellent investment, as they offer a return on rent between 6% and 10% per year. It couldn’t be different, since the demand for this type of accommodation in Orlando is great. Orlando receives more than 70 million people annually.

It is important to know that not all homes purchased in Florida allow seasonal rental. In Orlando, only those classified as Vacation Home can be rented for short periods.

Gated Community

Here, too, the term does not specify the type of real estate unit, but the concept. When translating Gated Community we will have “Community with gate”. In fact, it means “walled community with gate”, that is, it is the closest to what we know in Brazil as a closed condominium of houses. Whenever a broker refers to “Gated Community” it usually means that it is a condominium of houses within the limits of walls. These houses can be Single-Family, Townhomes or Villas. At the same time, these condominiums may or may not allow seasonal rental, which would qualify these homes as Vacation Homes.

Access within the boundaries of the gated community is controlled by one or more gates. Some gated communities offer a guardhouse with a concierge or security, which ensures that only residents or guests enter, while others offer automatic gates where residents themselves open and close by remote control.

About AMG International Realty

AMG International Realty is a global real estate company specializing in the Florida real estate market. If you are interested in buying, selling or renting real estate in Florida, please contact us now and chat with me on WhatsApp: + 1 (305) 318 6968 (Heloisa Arazi).

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