Part of my standard list of questions for a first time home buyer is to ask if they have considered buying a full duplex. Buying a full duplex is a very practical alternative to the standard, stand alone single-family home. A full duplex is another approach to the Great American Dream of Home Ownership. A Duplex is both a place to live as well as a great long-term investment. A two-family home can be a very practical way to combine objectives.
Buying a full duplex is a reasonable approach to cash management and personal investment. If the buyer sets out a personal goal of buying a full duplex every two or 3 years, they can end up with a nice portfolio of rental properties where the tenants are paying the costs of ownership (mortgage, insurance, taxes, upkeep and maintenance). Once the mortgage is paid off, that cash flow is nice to have coming in.
Why don't more people do it? I believe that the main reason is that they just don't visualize themselves doing it. It isn't part of what they have thought about doing. It isn't part of the Buyer's personal experience with housing generally. Home buyers don't usually day dream about anything other than the standard brick 3/2 with a rectangular yard, walk-in closets and a garage that is frequently larger than the living area of the home.
The other reason is more subjective. Being a landlord just isn't for everyone. Some people know that they just aren't tempermentally a good fit for the kind of work that being a landlord represents. The person who figures that out BEFORE buying a duplex is going to be much happier than the person who only learns this bit of self-knowledge first-hand!
This posting is one of 5 postings about buying a duplex. The others are:
Single-Family Property vs Duplex...how is the search different? http://actvra.in/Byq
How To Size Up a Duplex Deal http://actvra.in/Bys
Getting a Mortgage as an Owner Occupant http://actvra.in/BxC
Misc Issues to Consider As An Owner-Occupied Duplex http://actvra.in/Byq
photo source, Flickr Commons; http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178246751/sizes/m/in/photostream/