Whenever I'm getting information over the telephone regarding a home I'm going to be preparing a Comparative Market Analysis on (CMA), I will ask what style is the home? Many times I'll get a long pause where I will step in and start naming and describing different styles.
Most people know that a ranch style home is a one-level home. That's the easy one. Some people will tell me they have a two-story when they really have a cape cod (or 1 1/2 story). A cape cod is easy to describe over the phone as it's typically the kind of house children draw in pictures with a square body and a triangle on top with a peaked roof coming down the sides. A true two-story has the same square footage on the upper level as it does on the main level and the upper ceilings are full, flat ceilings, unlike many cape cods that have slanted ceilings unless they have a dormer built in.
One home style that even real estate agents get mixed up on are the raised ranch, bungalow and mid-level home. To me, a true bungalow is styled after the Chicago bungalows that are basically a long ranch home with the bedrooms on the main level to the side of the home and you walk through the living room, dining room (many bungalows don't have a formal dining room) and straight through to the usually large kitchen. The basement is huge as it's the same size as the entire level above it. Some bungalows have walk-up attics and some are finished into extra bedrooms, but that's rare and it changes the typical bungalow floorplan.
In my opinion, a raised ranch is any other style of ranch home that you have to walk up a staircase to get to the front door. Sometimes the lower level windows are regular sized windows that are usually above ground and the basement is not entirely below ground level. These one-level homes can be different than a bungalow as they might be wide on the lot instead of long, like a bungalow. The interior floor plan isn't straight-through like a typical Chicago bungalow.
Another home that confuses some people is the mid-level. This is a home that could almost be mistaken for a two story but they have a distinct floor plan. You enter a foyer on the main level and are faced with a set of stairs going up (to the actual main level) or down to the lower level (not completely underground). The living area and bedrooms are on the main (upper) level and the lower level usually has the laundry, family room, possibly more bedrooms or an office, another bathroom and access to the garage.
Some people also get confused with the different split levels around. I get confused with bi-level vs. tri-level. I believe a tri-level is the typical split level style home that has a main level, the upper level with the bedrooms and a lower level with a family room, utility room and possibly another bathroom. "Tri"-level = three levels. A quad level would have a sub-basement.
Another home that isn't always easy to find in our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is a step ranch. There are 2-step and 3-step ranches. They can look like a typical split level from the outside. Inside usually offers a main level comprising of a formal living and dining room, an eat-in kitchen (many with a skylight) with the family room across from it and either a powder room or sometimes a full bath (with a shower). Up 2 or 3 stairs are the bedrooms with a hall bath. There is a basement and most are partial, although a few have larger basements. They can have 3-4 bedrooms, some have a master suite and the laundry room is usually in the basement, although a few have them on the main level.
Yet another split level style home (we have to add a type of home in the MLS, style of home isn't mandatory) is a Forrester. You'll know a Forrester when you step into the main level living room with a vaulted ceiling and the dining room a few steps above. If you stay on the main level and walk through the hallway you'll find a bathroom (usually 1/2 bath or powder room) and the family room in the back. The next level up (on the same level as the dining room) is the kitchen. Up another set of stairs are the bedrooms, and there usually is a master suite. They have basements but they're usually partial basements with a crawl area. Forresters are considered quad-levels.
And yet another split level style is called a Juliet split. You walk into the living room with a vaulted ceiling and from there you can see the staircase
to a small "bridge". This is how the style got the name - Juliet would be standing on the bridge (the upper hallway) with Romeo standing below delivering his lines. These are normally a smaller style split level. Besides the living room some Juliet splits have a formal dining room but most don't - just the living room and kitchen on the main level. Up the stairs are normally 3 bedrooms, with the master opposite the one bathroom (very rare for a master suite in this style). The bedrooms are usually on the small side. On the lower level is the family room, usually another bathroom and the laundry room.
There are certainly some unique styles that are difficult to categorize but as agents we have to fit them into a "type" as closely as possible as it is a mandatory section of the MLS. Some homes started as a ranch style and with additions have turned into something else.
The National Association of Realtors has broken down the different styles even more into art deco, neoclassical, prairie and more. Read all about the different styles of homes here. You will see how some of these different styles can cause confusion, especially with custom homes that combine different styles.
If you'd like to search for any style of home in Northern Illinois please use the MLS Search. If you'd like to have listings in your price range, the styles you want and other amenities sent automatically to your e-mail then fill out the Home Finder Form. If you're thinking of selling your home you can get an idea of market value by filling out my free Internet Market Analysis form. If you just have questions either call me at 708-536-8200 or use my Quick Contact form.