Why a Duplex Might Be the Right First Home

Posted by Robert DeFalco on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 at 10:09pm.

Why should I buy a two-family home if I only have one family?

It's a reasonable question. With a reasonable answer. A two-family home, or duplex, can be a good choice for first-time homeowners. Although they're among the least popular (less than 2% of sales to first-time buyers this year), they can be financially beneficial. As Marketwatch puts it, "You may have to live with a stranger, but that stranger will pay your mortgage".

"Purchasing a home with multiple units, where you live in one and others live next door, upstairs or downstairs, has its perks: mainly, their rent is contributing to your mortgage, you don’t get to share a bathroom and kitchen with your tenant and you’re close by if anything goes wrong."

It does require a different kind of investment. If you're going to be a first-time homebuyer-slash-landlord, you need to be handy or able to hire out professionals... or preferably, both.

“Expect to change people’s light bulbs in the middle of the night or being on the phone with a plumber when the heating goes out on a Sunday.”

You should also keep an emergency fund, for major repairs or legal coverage. But it can balance out net positive for you financially

"Using your tenant’s rent as additional income can allow you to qualify for a pricier home. In some cases, you can put down only 5% and get a mortgage from a private lender versus a bank, said Ray Rodriguez, a regional mortgage sales manager at TD Bank in New York."


Choosing a two-family home for your one family's first home has it's benefits. It shouldn't be jumped into blindly, but for the handy homeowner it can be a money saver.

"Still, it’s not impossible. When Gulish was buying his first home with his wife, they opted for a two-family. At the time, they were in their mid-20s and qualified for a large property at the top of their budget but with a tenant who paid more than half of their mortgage. “Sometimes it’s a leap of faith,” he said."

Robert DeFalco

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