MLS Style Category Definitions

1. (SF) One Story (ONEST)
One story single-family house
2. (SF) One 1/2 Stories (ONEHF)
One 1/2 story single-family house. Second floor only has adequate ceiling height in a portion of it.
3. (SF) Two Stories (TWOST)
Two story single-family house. Has adequate ceiling height throughout upper story.
4. (SF) More Than Two Stories (MRTTS)
Single-Family house with more than two stories.
5. (SF) Modified Two Story (MODTS)
Two story single-family house where the second story has full ceiling height throughout but has less square feet of finished space than the first level, leaving a portion of the structure without the second story. However, there is a full set of stair risers to the second story. (Does not include multi-level homes with a half set of risers but not a shorter full set.).
6. (SF) Three Level Split (THRLS)
Three level split home.
7. (SF) Four or More Level Split (FOURM). Built like a three level split, except it has a basement level and/or additional levels.

The Multiple Listing Service lists 19 different kinds of housing styles (the first seven are described above).

Which one’s the most confusing?

Personally, my candidate is #12. Townhouse Detached (“TWNDE”).

“Looks, Walks, and Quacks Like a Duck Single-Family Home”

That’s because a detached townhome is physically indistinguishable from a stand alone, single-family home: there are no shared walls or entrances, and each townhome sits on its own (usually small) lot.

So, what’s different?

Unlike single family homes, detached townhomes are governed by a homeowner association that takes care of building exterior maintenance, snow removal, sanitation, etc.

Bait and Switch? Maybe a Little

I ran into the issue when a townhome I’d been tracking for a client cancelled and re-listed, but was no nowhere to be found on the townhome search I’d set up and saved for the clients.

The explanation: the listing agent (representing the Seller) switched the property’s category from “Townhome Detached” to the far more popular “Single Family (Two Stories),” presumably to attract more Buyer interest.

If so, the listing agent may be buying trouble further down the line, when the surprised Buyer learns they’re obliged to pay association fees, adhere to association rules, etc.

Meanwhile, you’d guess that MLS frowns on the practice (or worse) as well . . . .

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

Leave a Reply