Everything about homeownership

How to Choose Between a Single Unit Home vs. a Duplex

BUYING YOUR HOME, HOME OWNERSHIP BASICS

Have you ever considered buying a duplex?

Duplexes are incredibly popular in many parts of the U.S. – both in cities and suburbs. These homes have two entirely separate units in one, allowing for two tenants. They are great investments for landlords, and solid options for renters who want the freedom of a home with a slightly lower price tag.

If you’re looking for a new home, you may want to consider buying a duplex rather than a single-unit home. Check out these pros and cons of both before making your decision!

Single Unit Home

Pros:

  • More freedom. If you own a single-unit home, you never have to worry about the neighbors upstairs, downstairs, or on the other side of the wall. Your home is your oasis.
  • Less complicated legally. Owning your own home is much less complicated legally than owning a home and owning a new small business (as you would as a landlord).
  • Less expensive up-front. Single-unit homes are less expensive than duplexes. Plain and simple.

Cons:

  • Lose out on potential income. By opting for a single-unit home, you are rejecting the opportunity to make income on the side from your tenants. 
  • Less tax benefits. There are specific tax benefits for those who own multi-family housing – you will gain some tax benefits just for becoming a homeowner, but not as many.
  • Lose out on flexibility in the future. Having a home with two homes does offer flexibility for those unforeseen moments…when the kids move back home, or the parents need to move in. Opting for a single-unit takes away that flexibility.

Duplex

Pros:

  • Potential for semi-passive income. When you own and live in a duplex, you can rent out the other living space. While you will have to maintain the property, you’ll also have a steady stream of income every month that the property is rented.
  • Pay off your mortgage with someone else’s rent. Even though your mortgage will be higher, you have someone else paying you a portion of that mortgage every month. 
  • Flexible options as life goes on. Having a duplex means you have the option to provide housing to family if/when it is needed. Your duplex can easily become an in-law suite or starter home for your grown children.

Cons:

  • You are the landlord. As the landlord, you have new responsibilities. You’re in charge of the legal structure of your new business, taxes, taking care of the property, dealing with evictions, and you are liable for your tenants. That’s a lot to take on.
  • Your tenant may not take care of your property. Renters are notoriously less responsible over their living space. This can be a nuisance, and in worst case scenarios could result in damages to your property or even fire hazards (remember – your home is connected to theirs).
  • Much more expensive. The up-front costs of buying a duplex are higher. You’ll pay more for this building.

Duplexes are great investments – but you shouldn’t buy one if you aren’t prepared for the responsibilities that come along with it. 

It can be a good option for those who are comfortable with the landlord title and role – but if you’d rather not have to worry about anyone but you, just stick with the single-unit space for now.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking to buy a new home? Use Home.LLC to reach 20% down, today!


Anshika Burman

Anshika is a top-ranking graduate from Symbiosis International University. Previously, she worked in corporate finance at Dabur. She joined Home.LLC while pursuing her CFA.

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