Property Q&A in Philadelphia>Question Details

alexandra, Home Buyer in Philadelphia, PA

I am considering investing in a duplex to rent out and live in. What factors should I consider?

Asked by alexandra, Philadelphia, PA Thu Jan 19, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Alexandra,

First and foremost, if you plan to live there, you want to find a duplex in a neighborhood that you feel comfortable living. Is it close to your work or an easy enough commute? If you have a dog is it close to a park? Easy access to Public Transit, highways, etc? Does this neighborhood fit your lifestyle for walking, shopping, dining out, etc?

Of course, you want to think about how much can you afford to pay for a monthly mortgage payment? What is the maximum mortgage amount you are pre-qualified/pre-approved for? (Contact Ed Dubinsky at Absolute Home Mortgage Loans 215-808-5353). The financials will tell you where you can afford to buy. Can you rent the other unit to cover enough of the mortgage to leave you with a comfortable payment?

Please feel free to call me anytime to discuss your goals and options. I specialize in multi-family investment properties and we manage over 600 units throughout the City of Philadelphia. I can help you analyze available duplexes on the market and help you find one that makes sense for you.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Have a great day.

All the best,
Larry Lichtman
REALTOR, Property Manager
Your Real Estate Resource For Life
Cell/Text: (267) 254-7994
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
Good for You! I started my real estate career by purchasing a two family home. I lived in half and received a nice rent in the other half. I made sure that the rental was able to cover the majority of my mortgage payment. I lived there for the cost of taxes. I also made sure that my first investment was a property that was nearly maintenance free. I wanted vinyl siding, newer roof, windows, heating. The last thing I wanted to do was have to drop a ton of improvement money into this home. Finally, make sure you purchase a home that has separate utilities. You do not want to be responsible for a tenants heat, electric and/or water. That is a big chunk of your profit. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 14, 2012
Hi, Alexandra.

Thanks for reaching out on Trulia, and congrats on your decision to buy in this market!

Honestly, there are many things to consider with a decision like this (i.e. cost, cash flow, neighborhood, etc.). It might work better if we sat down over a cup of coffee and discussed your goals.

My communication lines are always open if you need assistance.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
I would consider the neighborhood and is this duplex good for you to live in. I would look at travel routes and proximity to public transportation. I would look at the infrastructure and the way the utilities are distributed. i would consider age of the mauin systems in the structure- roof, heating, AC, plumbing windows. Will combined rent when occupied cover substantially all of your costs plus the rainyday fund for repairs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
I am not from your area but I want to ask you to make sure you can qualify to purchase without the other income. This will keep the pressure down to rent to people you should not rent to. A good renter will stay for years without the need to evict or re-list the unit every few months. The extra time in selecting your tenant is well worth it.
Benny Smith, 412-498-7868
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012

I recommend a book to my first-time investors called "The Weekend Landlord". Once you've made a choice that makes sense for you location and rental-income-wise, your priority should be managing that property properly to protect your investment. I do not recommend making a move without a trustworthy and capable Realtor representing your interest. As far as important considerations for a duplex - Ask these questions:

1) Is the property legally zoned for a duplex
2) Are the utilities separated already for each unit
3) What kind of fire protection is in place
4) What will insurance for a duplex cost versus a single family home
5) Who will have access to the basement and how
6) Who will have access to the yard and how
7) Is there already a tenant in place and if so, review the lease

Hope this is helpful. I'd be delighted to discuss your options further!

Hannah Angert, Realtor
(215) 869-9571

William Festa Realty
3001 S. Sydenham St.
Philadelphia PA 19145

(215) 271-3000 phone
(215) 271-0988 fax
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
This will be your home, so consider location first of all. There are good financing options for an owner occupied duplex since you will qualify for home owner interest rates.

For Northwest Philadelphia properties contact
Kathleen Sheridan
WEICHERT, REALTORS - McCarthy Associates
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
Hello Alexandra,

I would consider the rentals available in the area as well as the resale value and current appraisal. It sounds like you want to live there for some time, so I would also look into the sound insulation that exists between the units. I have a background in construction and understand how houses are built, so if you need any advice, send me an email. I'll be glad to help.

Thank you,
Brian Fletcher.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
How is the renting market in the area?
What can you get for rent?
How long would you plan to live there?
Is your investment goal short or long term?

Amanda Saunders
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
Hello Alexandra,

Instead of writing it out which will take a lot of space why don't we speak on the phone.
No commitment necessary and i will explain many of the caveats of this type of transaction.

I work with investors all the time and i know the current market.

Best Regards,

Alexander Shulzhenko
Real Estate Pro
267 738 0886
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 19, 2012
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