Buying a Duplex vs a Single-Family Home

By -

Eager house hunters frequently encounter all sorts of scenarios they never bargained for. For example, they may fall in love with a home that does not conform to their original wish list. They could become intrigued by a home with a pool, a two-story when they were adamant about a single-story, an unusual floor plan or architectural style. Sometimes, prospective buyers may be faced with choosing between a duplex vs. a single-family home.

There are a variety of reasons that could make a specific duplex suddenly more appealing than a single-family home: it’s in a great neighborhood, the price is better, it has built-in amenities, it’s newer. Now, let’s consider the general pros and cons:

Single-family pros and cons

  • Owning a single-family home means more freedom to do what you want when you want to do it, such as choices in regard to painting, renovating, updating, decorating, landscaping and perhaps throwing a big party. (with a band)
  • Residing in a single-family home is more private than sharing space in a duplex.
  • When you are ready to sell, you will not have to worry about uprooting tenants.
  • You will be solely responsible for the mortgage.
  • Single-family homes tend to be pricier than duplexes, but not always.
  • Most types of conventional and government backed mortgage programs (i.e. Fannie, Freddie, FHA, USDA, VA) can be used to finance owner-occupied single family homes. Some restrictions may apply to multi-family homes, especially if the 2-4 unit property is being used as a second home or rental property.

Duplex pros and cons

  • Since one side will be rented out, you’ll share the burden of the mortgage.
  • Depending on the rental agreement, other tasks may be shared as well, such as home and yard maintenance. However, this is often the sole responsibility of the owner.
  • As an owner-occupied property, there is a built-in neighbor who can take care of things when the owner is away.
  • If the duplex is in a resort area, it may be a very lucrative, in-demand rental.
  • It could be rented to a close friend or family member.
  • Should it be vacated, the homeowner would be responsible for a larger monthly house payment.
  • May not be available for 100% USDA financing. Please consult with a licensed mortgage professional in your area for verification.

Prior to making any real estate investment decisions, we recommend that you consult with a real estate professional, a mortgage broker or lender, a financial advisor, and tax a tax professional.

Other Resources:

How Buying a Duplex Can Save You Money –
Freddie Mac Information on Multi-Family Houses –
Where to Look Up Conforming Loan Limits –
Multi-Family Home Financing Requirements –
Duplex Design Ideas –

Lisa is a cost-cutting, money-saving, life-simplifying guru, ready to share her secrets and the tricks up her sleeve. As a mother to a teenager and a twenty-something, avid surfer, and world traveler, Lisa knows how to live the good life on a budget. She covers topics that help us let go of wasteful and costly habits, and embrace those that do our wallets, our bodies, our families, and our planet some good!

Comments are closed.