Often the talk around home purchases concentrates almost entirely on a house vs. a condo. However, depending on your situation, a duplex could be a very compelling option. Here are a few ways a multi-unit dwelling may or may not fit into your plans.
Here Are the Pros
Helps with the mortgage. If you buy a single-family dwelling, the mortgage payment is up to you and you alone each month, unless you allow an additional renter into your space. However, with a multi-unit home, you not only get help with the mortgage payment each month, but you may potentially also be able to pay off your mortgage faster than you would if it were just you in the house.
You have proximity to your investment. If you are buying a duplex as a way to generate some rental income, you are in luck. If an issue arises with a tenant, you don’t have to drive across town or rely on someone else to resolve the situation. You know right away what is going on and because of this, solutions tend to be much simpler.
You may get some tax breaks. Because some improvements or repairs you make to your property also affect the rental portion of the building, you may find that they are tax-deductible. Talk to a tax professional to find out how this might apply to your situation.
It may better fit your family situation. It’s becoming very common for three generations or more to live under the same roof. However, it can be more than a bit challenging to keep the peace with so many people sharing one living space. A duplex allows you to partition and allocate better and can help everyone feel like they have their own sanctuary.
There are also pros in building a duplex
KEEP ELDERLY FAMILY MEMBERS CLOSE
With a duplex, you can live in one home and have elderly relatives live in the other. If your aging parents or grandparents live right next to you, you can quickly go to them and give them the care and support they need. This is especially important if they have health issues. You can help each other out with cooking, chores, and providing much-needed company.
What’s more, elderly relatives who live next door can avoid or delay having to go to a retirement village or nursing home. It’s also cheaper than paying for another house, unit, or retirement village, allowing them to save some money.
On the other hand, if you’ve got young children and don’t have the time to always take care of them or you can’t afford to pay for childcare, having grandparents live close by is beneficial. They can provide unpaid care for your children while you work, shop, or go out for entertainment. They can also be good company for your children.
IT’S A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPERTY GAME
Fancy being a landlord? You can get started by building a duplex, living on one side, and renting out the other. You’ll learn about landlord-tenant laws in your state, customizing a lease, collecting rent, and screening potential tenants. Plus, if you live next to your rental property you can see it every day, check for any repairs that need to be made, and ensure your tenants behave properly.
On the other hand, you can rent out both sides of the duplex and pick up two income revenues. The rental return rate can make for positive cash flow from the start.
What’s more, the potential to have no strata title structure means you can reduce holding costs and increase your rental return, as well as gain more control over the expenditure of both homes.
INCREASE YOUR REVENUE WITH AIRBNB
You can earn more money renting out one or both of your dwellings through AirBnB (a vacation rental site) than if you rented it out on a traditional one-year lease. This is because you can charge more for vacation rentals, which are short-term stays. People are also willing to pay more for a shorter stay than for a longer stay. You can expect to earn about double what you would’ve made with a standard lease.
Keep in mind that that renting through Airbnb is subject to council restrictions, so get in contact with your local council first to see what your options are.
So if you need extra income, AirBnB provides self-regulating (through guest and host reviews), a free-market solution for collecting short-term market-rate rents. Simply post an ad on Airbnb (include quality photos and lots of details) and when you find a tenant, they’ll pay you, the host, for accommodation.
If the duplex is furnished well and situated close to all local amenities, you can rent it out for a high price per night or week. You can also rent out individual rooms or a spare room in the home you live in for a lower price. To ensure you get bookings, however, your prices shouldn’t be higher than other AirBnB duplexes.
DISADVANTAGES OF A DUPLEX
While there are some fantastic advantages, as with everything in life, the pros come along with some cons.
1. YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH TENANTS
Not only does owning a duplex mean that you need to deal with tenants but it also means that you live with them. There’s no one to work through and at times it can mean they come knocking with every small problem.
The good news is that as the landlord, you get to choose your tenants, which means you can be very selective about who your neighbors are. But regardless of how ruthless you are, there’s still no absolute guarantee that you’ll get along. Of course, that’s true of every neighbor, however, there’s something different about the landlord/tenant relationship that you really need to be careful about. Remember, that’s the property you’re dealing with. You really don’t want to get your tenants offside.
2. RENTAL INCOME ISN’T ALWAYS GUARANTEED
Just because the property is there, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to rent it out. As with every investment property, it takes time to find tenants, especially if you’re being picky about who you’ll live next door to.
On top of that, every time a tenant finishes up, you’ll need to work your way through the process all over again. And remember, every week the property is empty, you’re losing out on valuable rental income.
Of course, if you’re careful about your screening process, it is possible to find long-term tenants who will stick around, helping with rental cash flow. But even then, emergencies or issues can arise, causing a vacancy.
3. THE VARIOUS RESPONSIBILITIES ARE ALWAYS ON YOU
You’re the landlord, which means you’re responsible for every repair needed. Maintenance, repairs, and cleaning between tenants are all up to you and while you can organize for cleaning companies and maintenance help, the cost must be bared by you and you alone.
This also may include replacing large appliances such as dishwashers and ovens, repainting when required, and dealing with council issues. These costs all eat away at your rental income as the money has to come from somewhere.
You need to make repairs. By renting out a portion of the duplex, you become a lessor. As such, you are responsible for making repairs to the property you are renting. With most people, this won’t be a big hassle, but if you own an older duplex, or are renting to particularly persnickety tenants, you may find yourself either spending a lot of time on fixes or spending a good chunk of money to hire a professional.
It can be more expensive. The price of a duplex is of course offset by the rent payments you are able to receive each month. However, remember that you have to account for times when your tenants have moved out and you are awaiting new renters. This isn’t as much of an issue in active rental markets, but if you are in an area where the pool is a bit shallower, you may need to set aside money for the lean months.
Problem renters may be tough to remove. Laws that protect renters are generally a great thing, but be aware that some areas have laws that make it extremely difficult to remove problem renters. Talk to some real estate agents in your area to get a sense of the experience of past duplex owners who have dealt with this type of situation.
You have to put up with long-term house guests. Yes, you have your own living space. However, if you rent out the remaining space, you will have to put up with any idiosyncratic behavior your renters choose to engage in. Have a small child? Renting out the other unit may mean noisy neighbors making loud child-waking noises at all hours of the day and night.
The idea of taking on landlord/landlady duties with your new home may not sound immediately appealing, but it is wise to consider a duplex as an option if the potential long-term benefits fit with your goals.
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
When looking to build a duplex, always weigh up the advantages against the disadvantages to see whether the situation will work for you. While it’s an excellent way to earn a rental income, this income isn’t always guaranteed. However, for many duplex owners, the ability to live in one part of their home and renting out the other half to hand-picked tenants works well. In fact, it can even lead to new friendships and a feeling of community.
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer. Just the right answer for you and your circumstances. Call Degraff Construction today!