Best way to sell a duplex: as-is or fixed up?

I have a duplex that I would like to sell, but I’m not sure if it’s worth my time and money to clean it all up and make it pretty.

One unit is occupied. The tenant has no desire to go anywhere, so from a financial viewpoint, there’s not much sense in fixing that unit up.

The other unit is vacant, and probably needs paint and carpet to be rentable. The kitchen could use new appliances, too, but that’s a stretch.

I am sure that, at most, I should do the property only what is necessary to get it rented at market rates. In other words, don’t put another $10K into a bathroom when it’s not going to get me a higher rent.

What about doing nothing to it, though? Is that an option? Do investors see through all of the clutter and cosmetic needs? Could I sell it as-is dollar-for-dollar less than perfect retail? In other words, if it’s worth $170K in tip-top shape, but it will take $15K to get it there, might I sell it for $155K and just move on?

What I don’t want are investors who see it listed for $155K and then say, “It needs work, so I will give you $130K.”

I think I may have answered my own question. My target is probably the investor who doesn’t want to be bothered with any repairs or anything. They just want a nice, clean, ready-to-rent property, and they are willing to pay retail for it. Do these people exist?

Any thoughts on this would be very welcome. I’ve never sold a duplex before.

I would go in the middle.Clean up and paint.Fix any holes in the wall.That should be fine.


Let me ask you, as an investor, would you pay dollar for dollar for home in need of repairs? If so, you’d purchase a $100K ARV property that needs $20K in estimated repairs for $80K, correct? Where exactly is the profit in that? What happens if your estimate is off and it costs more to fix?

Investors by things at a discount. Repairs are a great way to get a discount. Not just because of the repairs, but because the repairs actually reduce the FMV of the property more so than what those repairs actually cost to fix the place. A $100K ARV home needing $20K in repairs is NOT worth $80K to most people.

Are there people who will pay near retail for a fixed-up fully rented duplex? Yes. They are called landlords.


Just remember how supply and demand works. There’s a certain number of people looking for houses. A large percentage of them are interested in homes in good condition. A smaller percentage are interested in homes in bad condition. You will have more demand if the house is in decent condition. You don’t need to spend $10k to get a bathroom in shape, just do some basic cosmetics. You wouldn’t believe how many houses I’ve seen where the owner just won’t throw on a fresh coat of paint in the entry way, it’s the first thing prospective owners see and doesn’t generate a good impression in their mind. I think dollar for dollar, paint is probably one of the cheapest things you could do to a place with the highest returns. That and probably high wattage light bulbs to brighten the place up.

I’m also not sure if you’re targeting just investors because of your particular area. In general investors are probably 20-30% of the market although it can be tough to gauge as people do buy investment property as owner occupied if they don’t already own a property. Have a shabby place eliminates those owner occupied who want a place in move in condition and possibibly 70-80% of your market.

I would get the empty unit in “ready to rent” condition. (i.e. due some low cost cosemtic things, fix the plumbing leaks, broken light fixtures, etc). Forget about tip-top condition; you will not get a return on investment. Investors are just concerned about price vs. income. Tip-top conditions only brings marginally more rent in many areas.

Its all about the numbers…