You’ve probably heard the word duplex thrown around, but what comes to mind when you think of it? A movie? Annoying neighbors? A small apartment building? Everyone has a different picture in their mind.
So let’s get some things straight and clear up the meaning of duplex once and for all.
What Is A Duplex?
A duplex is simply a home with two separate living spaces. The home is usually an older building that was once one home but was large enough to accommodate two homes. Thus, it was turned into two separate homes that are still attached.
Each home in a duplex has a separate entrance and there aren’t usually ways to walk through each other’s living space. There may be a utility room that connects them, but this is similar to an apartment entrance.
Each area also has its own bathroom, kitchen, and bedrooms. It offers privacy to both tenants and gives them a better price than if they were renting alone. It works a lot like an apartment, rather than a house.
Can I Live In Both Duplex Floors?
Yes, you can live on both floors of a duplex. However, if you choose to do this, you may notice that people no longer call it a duplex. They will generally refer to it as a single-family home since a duplex houses two families.
Even if there are two entrances, two kitchens, and two living spaces, that’s not what makes it a duplex. What makes it a duplex is that there are two families living in it. So, when you live in both areas, it’s simply a former duplex.
Can A Duplex Be Renovated?
This depends on if you want to renovate a duplex you own or one that you rent. Let’s go over each type of renovation and what you need to know before you consider taking out a wall or putting down hardwood floors.
Renovating Your Duplex As An Owner
A duplex can be renovated to accommodate one larger family. If there isn’t a stairway inside, one is added. The second kitchen and living room are usually converted to bedrooms or family rooms. One of the entrances is even often removed or turned into a backdoor.
Renovating Your Duplex As A Renter
If you want to renovate the space you live in, the rules are the same as if you lived in an apartment. You talk to your landlord about any changes you want to make and she can approve them or reject them.
Oftentimes, this is all laid out in the initial contract. You agree that you will pay a certain amount and you are told what is allowed. Sometimes, small changes are allowed, like paint color. Other times, you can do whatever you want.
What Is The Difference In A Duplex And Other Town Homes?
Many people confuse other types of homes with duplexes. But each of these homes has a unique name for a reason. For example, a country home is always in the country not in the city. But that one is obvious. What about when the difference isn’t obvious?
A condo is like an apartment and duplex fusion. It is usually sold to the resident. So there can be multiple owners within the same condo whereas all renters in an apartment are renting under a landlord.
Shared areas are also more common in a condo than a duplex. In a duplex, you should have your own yard and there won’t be a courtyard or anything. Duplex renters prefer as much privacy as possible.
Not all townhouses are duplexes but some duplexes are townhouses. A townhouse is simply a house that is surrounded by other houses on two sides. They are conjoined but owned by separate individuals.
Since townhouses are often tall, they are easily converted into duplexes. Many duplexes are townhouses that are rented out to two families. One family lives on top while the other lives on the ground floor.
An apartment is the most common type of residence found in cities. This is because they can place hundreds of living areas in just one complex. A duplex only has two living areas, so it is not an apartment.
An apartment is built in a complex and can be owned by an individual or a company. Both of these usually hire a staff to help out with the apartment whereas a duplex owner is usually an individual who does things primarily by themself.
Is A Duplex Right For You?
That all depends on what you want out of a home. It also depends on whether you are considering buying a duplex building or if you are looking for a home to rent. After all, buying is a much bigger decision than renting.
Buying A Duplex
If you want to buy a duplex, think about whether you want to live in one area or rent out both areas. If you want to live in one of the areas, know that you may be the landlord, but you’ll still have a neighbor.
This neighbor will have to follow your rules, which can be great. However, if you rent out both areas, you will get double the pay for rent, returning your investment to you twofold. You may break even if you simply live in one of the areas.
Living In A Duplex
If you want to buy a duplex, remember that you will have a close neighbor. Yes, a neighbor in the same house, in a way. They may not disturb you, but most people in duplexes won’t try to avoid disturbing you like people in apartments.
When you have your own entrance, your own yard, and your own “house” you start thinking differently. That said, living in a duplex can save a ton of money and let you feel like you have your own house.
How Much Does A Duplex Cost?
Like any other home, duplex prices greatly vary. But before we get into that, you need to decide if you want to buy a duplex or if you want to rent a duplex. Renting a duplex only saves money if you rent one half of it.
Duplex Cost To Buy
Duplexes cost about the same as any other house or townhouse. If you are renting out both areas, you can make your money back fairly quickly. The nicer the duplex, the more you pay, but the more you can charge as well.
Expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 on an average duplex. This is not likely to be lower, but if you have more to invest, you can get an even nicer home that will return the favor quite quickly.
Duplex Cost To Rent
The average amount that landlords charge tenants is about 1% of the market value. So if they pay $100,000 for the building, then tenants will pay about $1000/mo. This price varies, but this is a rule of thumb.
That said, most landlords let their tenants split the cost so that each family is only paying $500/mo. This will get renters in your duplex quickly as the payments are much lower than renting a home.
Appealing To Renters
If your plan is to buy a duplex and rent it out to two renters, there are a few things you should know.
Workforce housing is a wonderful way to appeal to a unique demographic. This type of housing should be affordable to the median household income families in the area. This is teachers, construction workers, and others like them.
This type of housing should be close to businesses but offer enough privacy to satisfy the worker’s family. Workforce housing isn’t employees living together, it’s an affordable way for families in the workforce to live comfortably.
They often rent these homes because they only want to live in the area temporarily. Especially when the worker is in a profession like the oil field or
Triple Net (NNN)
Here’s another term that may come in handy. It’s called NNN. You can actually rent out your home to someone and have them be solely responsible for all expenses while you are still the owner. They simply live in the house.
Because they are responsible for expenses, they can act as a property manager, leaving you with nothing but passive income. Everything is under contract to so there is little to no risk in using a NNN investment.
How To Find A Duplex To Rent
Finding a duplex to rent is just like finding an apartment to rent. The only problem is that apartments tend to take up all of the space in search results if you don’t know how to search properly. It’s important to weed out results you don’t want.
One of the best ways to find duplexes instead of apartments is to search for multi-family homes. You can try searching duplexes, but this doesn’t always work, so having a backup keyword is awesome.
You can also hire a realtor to help you find a duplex to rent. Many landlords keep close contact with realtors so they always know when there are openings even if they’re not on the market or in any search results yet.
If you’re looking for resources, then look no further, because here are all of the best places to find homes to rent online. Duplexes included! Just add “duplex” or “multi-family” home to your filters. Many of them have them already preset for you.