If you're torn between the thought of finally purchasing your first home and the idea of investing in rental real estate, but not sure your budget will support both choices, a duplex or multi-family home may be the perfect compromise. By living in one unit and renting the other to a paying tenant, you'll be able to have most (if not all) of your mortgage costs covered by rent, building equity and improving your net worth while enjoying a low cost of living. However, being a landlord can bring its own challenges and potential pitfalls, so you'll want to fully educate yourself before delving into this venture. Read on to learn more about some of the advantages and disadvantages of living in one side of a duplex and renting out the other.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of duplex ownership?
Duplexes can provide a number of unique advantages to homeowners and landlords. Because each unit is usually separately metered, you'll be able to keep your finances fully separate from those of your tenant by ensuring that he or she receives utility services in his or her own name, rather than sticking your electricity bill with the usage for both units. You'll also be able to keep a close eye on your investment and intervene when you begin to notice problems with a tenant, rather than wait until your unit has been damaged. Finally, a duplex gives you flexibility. If you choose to later move to a larger home, you'll be able to rent out both duplex units to cover the mortgage and other expenses while you finance another home. You'll also have the perfect living arrangement if you later need to support an aging parent who can no longer live alone or if your adult child needs to move back in while job-hunting or seeking a degree.
However, living in a duplex can also pose challenges. You may find it difficult or awkward to literally share a wall with your tenant, and could find that needy tenants or those with poor boundaries tend to hound you constantly to fix minor issues in their units.
What can you do to maximize your investment returns?
To determine whether a particular duplex is a good investment, you'll want to look at the average rents in your area for a similar unit and calculate the mortgage principal and interest, taxes, and homeowners insurance premiums (PITI) you'll pay upon purchase. In some cases, the purchase of a duplex is clearly a good idea -- for example, if you can rent out a single unit for significantly more than it will cost to pay the PITI for both units, you'll essentially be able to live rent- and mortgage-free for as long as the other unit is rented.
You may also want to preemptively get an estimate of the cost to perform any repair work that might be needed. While some houses can show well in pictures and have an attractive price, you may find that the repairs needed will cut into your profits quickly. By ensuring you're aware of the work it will take to fix up a property, you can make an offer with this figure in mind. For more information, visit a website like http://www.primerealtygroupinc.com/.