What Are The PROs And CONs Of Multifamily Homes?

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Greater Rochester NY Real Estate | Pittsford NY Realtor at RE/MAX Realty Group

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Top Benefits & Drawbacks To Buying A Multifamily House

What Are The PROs and CONs Of Multifamily Homes?

What Are The PROs and CONs Of Multifamily Homes?

Recently while selling a multifamily home in Rochester NY, several interested buyers inquired about the PROs and CONs of multifamily homes.

Did you know that more and more millennial home buyers are putting off buying a home due to rising living costs and the burden of debt?

People sometimes feel purchasing a home is out of reach financially, but what if you could buy a home and an investment property at the same time?  Have you considered multifamily housing as an option?

With multifamily housing, such as a duplex, you rent out part of the building and live in the other part.  There are many reasons you should consider buying multifamily housing if you’re looking to purchase your first home or upgrade to something that brings in an income.

Before you take the plunge and buy a duplex or even a small apartment building, consider all the factors that come into play during such a purchase.  As with most things, there are both pros and cons of multifamily homes.

Below are the top benefits and drawbacks to buying a multifamily home!

PRO To Buying A Multifamily Home: Pay Your Mortgage

Renting out one side of a duplex may allow you to pay for the entire mortgage and live free. It at least allows you to live much less expensively than you could when renting from someone else!

Essentially you’ll split the cost of the mortgage substantially, more than you could paying for a single unit on your own.  Make sure the investment is a solid one by studying what places of a similar size are renting for in the area.

How much can you charge renters for the other side of a duplex, and what will your monthly payment be? Don’t forget to include escrow items, such as property taxes and mortgage insurance.

You’ll also want to look into whether you should include water and sewer in your rental price. In many areas, if the previous owner hasn’t paid sewer or water, the property itself has a lien put on it until it is. On the other hand, gas and electric bills usually fall on the tenant. Ask if you aren’t certain.

CON To Buying A Multifamily Home: Costs More

CON of owning a multifamily home; They can be more expensive - Learn all about the PROs & CONs of multifamily homes

CON of owning a multifamily home; They can be more expensive – Learn all about the PROs & CONs of multifamily homes

A duplex will typically cost more than a single-family unit.  If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Rochester NY area, you can expect to pay approximately 10 percent more for a duplex than a single family property.  This of course is based on the idea that the properties are located in a similar area and they’re in similar condition.

This of course can vary based on the local market conditions and current demand. If you’re already on a tight budget, qualifying for that larger loan can be more difficult.

At the same time, a duplex offers the possibility of income. So, it’s up to you to decide if this is truly a negative to buying a duplex, or yet another reason to consider a multifamily home.

For approximately 10 percent more, you could, at a minimum, split the cost of the mortgage. Just make sure you can cover the payment if the other person fails to pay or the unit sits empty for a while.

PRO To Buying A Multifamily Home: Building Wealth

When you purchase a duplex, the money you pay every month for housing expenses is yours instead of someone else’s. You are pouring into something that belongs to you, rather than lining the pockets of a landlord.

This is why real estate traditionally is a smart place to invest your money. In a typical economy, the property will increase in value.

While this isn’t always the case, if you do your homework and invest wisely, you should come out ahead.  One of the reasons to hire a buyers agent when buying a home is they can help provide market data to help you evaluate if the property is a solid investment, or not.

With a multifamily home, you also gain an income from the other units in the building.

Let’s say your mortgage is $2,000 per month, and there are four units in the building. You live in one and rent out the other three, which both pays your mortgage and gives you a few hundred dollars in profit per month.

Not only are you profiting from the venture, but your rent is free, which gives you extra income for other investments.

CON To Buying A Multifamily Home: Deal With Tenants

Even though you’ll gain an income, you’ll have to deal with tenants. Some tenants amazing and will take great care of your property, and some will treat the rental property badly and tear up anything they get their hands on. You want to get tenants who don’t understand basic neighbor etiquette and end up dealing with noise or other issues.

It’s vital that if you’re thinking about buying a multifamily home that you know how to screen potential tenants.  This can help reduce the chance that you place a tenant in your property that’ll destroy it and cause you headaches.

You might also face situations where tenants don’t pay their rent, forcing you to go through the eviction process before you can get them out and put a paying tenant in there. You’ll have to repair things quickly and keep the property up to a certain standard as well.

If it were just your home, you might be able to put off a few minor repairs until you could better afford them — but this isn’t possible with tenants.

PRO To Buying A Multifamily Home: Tax Benefits

PRO of owning a multifamily home; Tax Incentives - What Are The Pros & CONs Of Multifamily Homes

PRO of owning a multifamily home; Tax Incentives – What Are The Pros & CONs Of Multifamily Homes

There are some fantastic tax benefits to owning a duplex. You can deduct the costs of repairs and maintenance on the side you rent out — though not on the side you live in, which is your primary residence.

If you hire a property manager, take out ads in the local paper to find renters or pay for any type of maintenance for your rental unit, these are likely all tax-deductible.

Obviously, you’ll want to seek the advice of a tax professional before claiming expenses, but all these can reduce your overall tax burden for owning a home.

CON To Buying A Multifamily Home: Vacancies Happen

Unfortunately, you may also go weeks or months with a vacant unit, during which time you’ll have to cover the full cost of the mortgage on your own. If you plan to rent out both sides of the duplex, this is an excellent investment as far as overall collection rates.

If one side is vacant for a total of two months, your collection rate is still 92 percent, which is pretty high. However, if you own a single-family unit rental and it stays vacant for two months, your collection rate is only 83 percent.

Over time, this makes a big impact on your bottom-line profitability.

PRO To Buying A Multifamily Home: Control Rent Costs

In many urban areas, rentals are in great demand. Millennials tend to put off buying a home in favor of renting for now, which means landlords are raising rent. If you purchase a multifamily home, you can control the monthly costs.

However, if rent rates rise, you can go ahead and raise the rent on the other unit, but keep your payments the same for the life of the loan. Instead of paying higher rent year after year with nothing to show for it, you’ll have a place of your own where the mortgage payments never increase on your side.

Final Thoughts On The PROs and CONs Of Multifamily Homes

There are some special considerations for loans for multifamily houses, additional insurance you’ll need and the factor of taking on a big responsibility. As you can see from the points above, there are PROs and CONs of multifamily homes.

If you’re considering home ownership, you shouldn’t rule out a multifamily unit as a good investment. It just might be the exact thing you’ve been looking for. Consider it the start of your career as a landlord and a way to test the waters on real estate investing.

Other Helpful Home Buying Resources

About The Author: The above article “What Are The PROs And CONs Of Multifamily Homes?was written by Holly Welles.  Holly is a real estate writer with a focus on millennial experiences in the market, helping readers figure out everything from home ownership to investing. You can read her latest tips on her blog, The Estate Update, and follow her on Twitter @HollyAWelles.

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About Rochester’s Real Estate Blog: Rochester’s Real Estate Blog is owned and operated by Kyle Hiscock of the Hiscock Sold Team at RE/MAX Realty Group.

With over 35 years of combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

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