First single family home or duplex? HELP!!!

First off i’m twenty four and have never owned any real estate of my own. I have a baby on the way and I have been consumed by real estate investing. I currently rent a townhome and I think (especially with the baby ) that it’s time I get out there and find a home of my own. My question is this… Would it be worth my time and effort to purchase a duplex as a first home? I can see me and my wife taking full responsibility of a tenant and I think the income from the second living quarters could possibly produce a significant income to put directly toward mortgage payments. At that same token I also know that there are a lot of homeowners hurting right now and the single family home can also be a profitable venture as well. Any thoughts, opinions or advice would be much appreciated.

Even though it is your first piece of real estate, a duplex makes more sense than a SFR.

Just about the last thing in this world that I want to do is live in the same building with my tenants!!! YUK!


i do have to admit that i am a little nervous about the investment. I would like to go with the duplex but jsut feel a little under-educated on the matter. What are some of the problems/issues and headaches that most of you guys think i might encounter?

I agree Mike. But, in my situation i think it may be anecessity if I wish to obtain more property. I am fairly good with money and have been investing in several different areas since I was 19. I was thinking that the duplex might offer me a temporary solution to save “extra” money for a year or two as I do not have a lot lof liquid reserves.

A duplex is a great idea, or even a triplex. Let your tenants pay for the roof over your head.

a 2-on-1 (2 houses on 1 lot) will give you more privacy than a duplex. You can put up a fence and landscaping for privacy. It’ll feel like a SFR (single family residence).

Where I live there are lots of older SFR with “guest cottages” in the back yards. These make great furnished rentals for single working people. Yet the lenders here do not treat the guest cottages as income property so you can get SFR owner-occupied mortgage rates on your purchase.

You can deduct 1/2 lawn care, landscaping, maintenance, water, etc. by having 2 units. You can depreciate the rental portion. All of this will mean big savings on your next tax return. Very useful for a growing family.

Mike doesn’t even want to think about living next door to his tenants. But down here we date and marry our tenants (our daughter, June 14). We just went to another tenant’s wedding as well. Some tenants become friends.


I live in a duplex with tenants in the other side. I have to say that I am pretty nervous when I put the other unit up for rent, but in some ways, it’s a really good exercise about determining what application criteria I want to use when screening my tenants. This is also a good screening criteria when looking at property in the first place.
When you look at property, if you are reading many investment gurus, you will look long and hard at monthly cash flow. I would like to quote Warren Buffet:
It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
I don’t want to own property in the ghetto. So I have purchased properties with a long hard concern for intrinsic value and location, location and location. I like my neighbors, I like my tenants, and I do not mess around with scumbags!
In this economic environment, either come in heavy with down payment or buy for way below market value. Get a thirty year fixed loan. Do not buy too much at one time.
I think that buying a duplex or triplex or two houses on one lot will expose you to the experience of being a landlord. This experience involves creating a business, negotiating, using tax schedules, working with lenders, contractors, brokers, inspectors, city hall, and, hopefully, other investors.
With a family to look out for and a child on the way, you cannot afford to lapse with your strict business acumen. Be careful of the conflicts of interest that may arise when you do business with people. This is business, not charity or vanity. If someone seems like a liar or a flake, they probably are.
Many times, apartment complexes need to send their employees to property management classes. You should go to these classes if you are considering becoming a buy and hold landlord. Find your local branch of the National Apartment Association, and look into the education programs and forms.
Good luck and congratulations.

I would do the duplex. It is only a big time investor or landlord that would not be willing to live next to their tenant I would see this as an opportunity to make sure the tenant is keeping the property up and acting responsibly. There is long term benefits to buying a SFR in this market, you can really get a great deal on a property.

Chris :bobble

I am also new to investing and trying to read everything that is out there on the subject. I don’t own any rental property but when I purchase my first property (within 2 years) it will be a duplex. I came to this decision from reading a very informative book called:
Investing in Duplexes, Triplexes, and Quads: The Fastest and Safest Way to Real Estate Wealth.
Another book I read for free at the bookstore.

I actually started in real estate with a duplex. I lived in the uglier side and let the tenant stay in the nicer once as I fixed up my unit. The main thing is to be stern, but fair. I joined the apartment association and always called the free landlord-tenant legal hotline that Austin offers before I took action.

The tenants knew that, if they were late, they’d have a notice to vacate asap. Didn’ t matter if their kids were sick, job problems etc. It takes a lot to be a landlord, but I followed the guidelines in the big yellow book entitled “landlording”. Bought it on Amazon and stuck with every piece of advice it offered, from contract clauses to qualifying tenants.

really appreciate all the input guys. I think the duplex is probably the better route. I am fairly sure I can handle the landlord part of it with a little guidance along the way. :anon

Hi Justine,

Im very proud that you are considering real estate investing while you are still very young. If you continue going on this route, Im sure you will be able to achieve Financial Independence well before forties.

As per your question, the most important thing to do is to evaluate the cashflow from both properties. Go for the one that will give more cash flow and easy to rent out and purchase only if it gives a positive cashflow


And then if you like that report, you can pay and sign up for his program too!!