Why A Duplex Is A Ticket To That Great Neighborhood

"...these popular neighborhoods aren't exactly a real estate secret."

Lake Calhoun



Over the years I’ve met countless first time home buyers. More often than not, they in a popular area (near a lake, river, shopping or great architecture) and understandably have decided they would like to put down roots there.

The trouble is, these popular neighborhoods aren’t exactly a real estate secret. Almost everybody wants to live there — which is where that stuff from that high school economics class kicks in — the law of supply and demand. There are only so many single family homes in these areas (supply), the demand for which is high, thereby forcing the price upwards.

In the Twin Cities market, most first time home buyers are uncomfortable spending more than $250,000. More often than not, the homes in the neighborhoods and with the features they like start at that price.

OK, yeah. What about a fixer? Well, fixer’s require cash. Lots of it. And most first time home buyers don’t have the thousands of dollars required for immediate repair.

It’s usually at this point that I ask whether the buyer has thought about a duplex. And I usually get a dumbfounded look as a reply.

Instead of looking at the whole price for a duplex, why not take the number and cut it in half? So if a duplex is listed at $400,000, the buyer would only pay for half, or $200,000. The tenants would pay for the other half (providing, of course, the rent was substantial enough). And, typically, properties can be found at or near those prices in these neighborhoods — in part because not as many people have thought of it!

“Yeah, but…,” buyers say. “I can’t afford that much”. Well, if the property has been a rental for more than two years, 75 percent of the rent can be counted toward the buyers income to qualify.

There’s more. The buyer can depreciate and write off the half he or she doesn’t live in on his taxes. Not to mention the ability to get a higher deduction for the amount of interest paid on the home loan (because the property cost more than a $300,000 single family home).

Finally, in coming years, if the buyer chooses to sell the property, the income he earned from tenants can be counted as income to help qualify for the loan for a new property.

Then again, it’s always nice to own a piece of property in a neighborhood everybody loves. Better still when it pays for itself!