A house is a single-unit residential building that ranges in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a sophisticated structure made of wood, masonry or concrete and outfitted with plumbing, electrical wiring and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Houses typically contain bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and living spaces. A house can also include a garage, carport and other non-living areas such as a laundry room. Some houses have separate dining rooms, while others combine eating and living spaces.

A home may be owned by a single person or family, by a group of people such as an extended family or by an organization, such as a church or charity. A residence in which several families live is often referred to as a compound or estate. The term house can also be used to refer to a governmental body that has legislative authority, such as the House of Lords in Britain or the United States House of Representatives. In some countries, a house is the name of an apartment building or other multi-family dwelling.

The house is often seen as a symbol of security and family life. For many people, buying a house is the largest financial decision they will ever make. Homeownership, however, comes with certain risks and limitations that should be considered carefully before making the purchase.

In addition to a traditional mortgage, alternative financing options such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending have become popular ways for individuals to buy a house. These alternative methods offer a more flexible and customizable approach to home ownership. However, they can still be difficult for people to qualify for and are not suitable for all buyers.

When selling a house, it is important to present the property in its best light. The goal is to create intrigue about the property’s past while highlighting features that will appeal to contemporary buyers. This is often achieved by focusing on historical details, architectural style and notable previous owners. It is also helpful to emphasize a house’s preservation, restoration or authentic renovation work.

Unlike apartments, houses can be furnished with personal touches, such as artwork or furniture. It is also common for homeowners to make improvements and upgrades in order to increase a house’s value. When done well, these updates can increase a home’s curb appeal and add to its overall appeal. However, it is important to balance personal preferences with a desire to sell the house quickly and for the highest possible price.

The word house can also be used to refer to governmental or other groups of people: the House of Tudor, for example, or the two chambers of a legislature, such as the UK House of Lords and the US House of Representatives. It can also be used to describe a type of business, such as a clothing store or restaurant: I like the house wine at this place. This is also known as the house brand. In a commercial setting, the term house can refer to a line of products produced by a retailer and sold under its own label: I’ll take some of that house paint.