What is the most common question I get asked in a duplex open house?
Is it, “What will the seller take?”
No. And even if it were, and I knew the answer (sometimes sellers surprise me), I couldn’t tell you. After all, the seller hired me to look out for her best interests, and by law, I have a duty to do just that.
The number one question is, “Is the whole duplex for sale or just one side?”
Many people don’t understand that while a duplex contains two residences, it has one Property Identification Number or PIN, with the county. It is considered one property.
In order for the two halves to be sold separately, each would need to have its own PIN. While that is possible, and certainly, many fourplexes and larger apartment buildings have been split up and sold independently as condominiums, there is some legal paperwork involved.
One of the challenges in doing this with a duplex is the formation of an association. With larger properties especially, developers who are selling the individual units, hire an attorney to form a homeowners association,.
In the bylaws, all the rules, regulations, dues, and means of resolving disputes are clearly spelled out in advance of the sale. This infrastructure helps prove a mechanism through which to collect and pay for maintenance, improvements and pursue delinquent homeowners.
Most of these associations have a board of directors which is populated by residents of the property. The board makes recommendations in terms of increased fees, exterior paint color schemes, etc., which residents then vote on.
What happens in a duplex if each owner wants the outside a different color? Who casts the deciding vote? Or if one owner stops paying her share?
Tough to resolve. Which is exactly why most duplexes never face being split up and sold separately.