This paper presents a comparison of near and far-fault ground motion effects on the seismic response of masonry structures, using nonlinear methods. To compare the influence on low to moderate rise buildings, a detailed field investigation and archive study were executed in Albania. Based on the archive and detailed field investigation over a hundred real residential masonry buildings constructed between 1963-1978, seven masonry buildings of 2-5 stories were selected to reflect the commonly constructed template designs. Analytical models of each building were prepared following the experimental data on the quality of the masonry constitutive components of the selected buildings. Seismic deformation capacities of each building were obtained by nonlinear static analyses. Inelastic time history analysis was used to predict the seismic displacement demands of the studied buildings. The significance of the findings is further investigated by examining the nonlinear behavior of a group of realistic buildings subjected to near and far-fault ground recordings. Results indicate that there is a remarkable difference in the seismic response of masonry structures between near and far-fault records. It can therefore be concluded that near-fault earthquakes may have significantly more damage potential on masonry structures than far-fault records.