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What is a Duplex Specialist?

In almost any field that are generalists and there are specialists. If you have a heart condition then a cardiologist for example will have special insight beyond your family’s general practitioner.

In real estate, it is no different. A duplex specialist is someone who knows the basic mechanics of a real estate transaction but is also someone who understands the issues related to multifamily property and the duplex style in particular.

They will know where the duplex listings are in your local market and most likely will have some insight on the investment viability that they have.

So to define what a duplex specialist is, we would define it as a real estate professional who can explain property cash flow, and rental issues for a duplex investor and someone who can fit the needs of a home buyer to the attributes of a duplex in the case of a owner occupied duplex buyer.

Duplex Homes help to rebuild New Orleans

A chartiable organization “Make It Right” founded by actor Brad Pitt decided to go with with duplex style housing to help rebuild the lower 9th ward in New Orleans.

The foundation enlisted several national and international design firms to submit duplex designs. Some of the designs look very promising:

Duplex Home Style Designs for Make It Right Foundation

Buying Rental Duplexes – A Quickstart Guide.

So you think a rental duplex is something you want to invest in. Well this is a short and concise guide of some things to consider. Duplexes are great investments but with any investment you need to do your due diligence and be honest with your capabilities.

Step #1 : Scope out the Market Area.

Where do you want to invest in? It’s a simple question but with layers. Ask yourself the following:

  • What are the local tax rates?
  • Would i be comfortable collecting rents?
  • Would i want to live here even temporarily?
  • Is the area growing?

Step #2 : Do your Financial Homework.

Before you search for duplex listings, you need to know where you stand financially. There are ways to creatively finance any property but if this is going to be your first investment property, base your buying ability on more traditional methods. Some variables to sort out:

  • Get Your Credit Score
  • Determine Your Max Down Payment
  • Determine your Cash Reserve
  • Look at local Rental Rates

Your credit score is your a lender’s measure of how fit your are as a borrower. Whatever the imperfections to this system, it is a core component to getting attractive interest rates. Get a 3 Bureau credit score and see what each one scores you at. If you have a low score, you may want to boost that number and invest when you can get a better rate.

Figure you out your max down payment and see if you can afford the cash outlay starting at your base price range. Make sure you accurately determine what the minimum down payment for duplexes in your projected area are.

With any investment property, numbers tell the story. Find vacancy and credit lose rates in the area you want to buy. If you experience that rate of vacancy or worse, will your cash reserve allow you to pay your mortgage?

Estimating the vacancy rates are important but so are the local rental rates. This rental income rate should be based on recent history and should be the average rate. There are outliers in rental income in any market, but base your estimate on conservative rent figures.

Step #3 : Get your Duplex Mortgage Options.

Call and get rates. Duplexes are considered Multi-Family 2 but still considered residential real estate so financing is similar to a single family home. The major financing difference depends if you are going to be a owner occupant or a pure landlord. The other variable to ask about is if a lender will take into the consideration the potential rental  income on the property.

  • If you are a “unseasoned” investor, they may give your potential rental income zero consideration and will simply finance you based on your ability pay the whole mortgage with your current financial means.
  • If you are a “seasoned” investor then they may take into consideration a certain percentage of potential rental income. Almost no lender will speculate 100% occupancy, most likely it will be somewhere near 75% from a lender’s perspective. What percentage also relates to your owner occupancy status on the property.

The down payment on the property is affected by your owner occupancy. For example a lender may allow 10% down if your are buying as a owner occupant and want 20% down if you are a buying as pure investment property.

One thing you will want to ask any lender is what the occupancy period is before you can leave the property as an owner occupant and turn that unit into a rental.  It may be a year, it may be more. Verify this outside of your lender per your state rules.

Step #4 : Have a Tenant Marketing Plan.

Once you know your financing options, think about your duplex marketing plan. How do you intend to get a renter? Ask other investors what works, and research what publications or methods that are used most often in your market area. Then define your plan.

Step #5 : Duplex Shop and Narrow Possibilities.

With the assistance of a real estate broker or agent look at several options that meet your criteria. Look at the core functionality of the property and get a home inspection on your top prospects. A good place to start your search is check the duplex.net website and look at the recent duplex listings and check back here for updated duplex information.

Duplex Investment Property – The Rule of 72s.

A handy little calculation for the duplex investor is the rule of 72s. The rule of 72s calculates the amount of years it will take  to double the value on an investment duplex at a certain appreciation rate.

To do this, you simply need to plug-in the appreciate rate rounded to the nearest whole number into 72 and that will tell you how many years it will take a duplex property to double in value.


You purchase a duplex for $150k and has an appreciation rate of 9%.

72 / 9% appreciation rate = 8 Years

It would take a $150k duplex 8 years at a 9% appreciation rate for that investment duplex to be valued at $300k.

This is a quick and handy way to see how the appreciation rate relates to your investment duplex.

Duplex Homes – 5 Reasons to Buy a Duplex.

#1 – Duplex homes have a lower barrier to entry.

Buying one side of a duplex is a great entry point for a first time home buyer or someone who needs a more affordable entry point in a certain market. On average a duplex unit is more affordable when compared to single family home with similar number of beds and baths, square feet and condition.

#2 – Duplex homes are homes with cash flow.

Buying a duplex and occupying one side gives you the ability to have a cash flow source while having the utility of a home. Remember this cash flow is in addition to the affordability advantage you have from living on one side of the duplex. These cash advantages can take care of various expenses.

#3 – A duplex home gives you faster home equity.

If the goal is to earn home equity then living on one side and renting the other side provides you with the ability to make double mortgage payments each month effectively halving your mortgage term. This reduces the interest paid and accelerates your home equity which can be borrowed against if needed.

#4 – Duplex homes allow for unique living situations.

The duplex housing style opens up options for unique situations. Say for example you need to take care of someone in your family who needs close supervision,  but is also situation where both parties, yourself and your family member require privacy and space. By living on one side and having your family member live on the other side, it solves that dilemma.

#5- A duplex home gives you a great rental for the future.

A great aspect of buying a duplex and living on one side as your first home is that when your ready to move to your next property, you will have a ideal rental property. Not only will you have the knowledge of  running a property and but you will also know how it feels from both the landlord and tenant perspective.

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