Part 2: How to Protect Yourself as a Duplex Seller


In this sellers’ market that Minneapolis is seeing, it may feel like, as a seller, you have a distinct advantage throughout the entirety of the transaction process.

In many ways, that can prove to be true. However, you have to be careful as a seller - no matter what the market looks like. No matter what you do, there are people out there who are ready to take advantage of you if you let them.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then you should also know that there are all kinds of sticky situations sellers can fall into - even if the buyer wasn’t attempting to manipulate you.

Before we launch into this, we want to encourage you to take advantage of one of our free duplex evaluations.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to know about what you might be facing later on before it ever happens. We can’t promise that you’ll avoid any and every problem, but we can assure you that we have years of experience dealing with duplexes and that we can help you to be prepared for whatever may come.

Protecting Yourself With Earnest Money

Don't let buyers take advantage of you - protect yourself with a strong contract.

Here’s the difficult part of selling a duplex:

In most cases, someone else is living in one or both of that property’s units. This third (and potentially fourth) party has no say in whether a property is bought or sold, but they do feel the effects of it.

With an estimated 60 - 70% of duplexes going to owner-occupants, you’re going to have to prepare for the reality that a duplex buyer may want to have one unit vacant by the time they close. After all, owner-occupiers intend to live in half of it.

This can become a little bit of an issue if both units in your duplex are currently occupied.


Because if a sale falls through before closing and you’ve already given your tenant notice, you may be dealing with a situation that leaves you with a vacant unit while you work to put the duplex back on the market. The reason that’s an issue is because there’s very little potential that you’ll find someone to fill in that gap. Who would want to move in and out in as little as 2 months or less?

To protect yourself from situations like these, ensure that the earnest money the buyer puts down is non-refundable.

This way, you’ll know that they are committed to the purchasing decision. If they back out, they’ll pay the price and you’ll have a financial buffer for any time that your property was left vacant.

Surviving an Appraisal

No one wants to be caught off-guard by an appraisal, prepare yourself on the front-end.

sell a duplex

Most anyone that’s ever sold a home is aware of how nerve-wracking appraisals can be. Even after a successful negotiation process has included with two parties in mutual agreement, appraisals can be make or break.

Appraisals are especially dangerous once you've accepted an FHA financed offer.

An offer that’s made with FHA financing has to appraise for what it’s worth. Otherwise, there is very little hope that a purchase can be made.

But as a seller, how do you prepare yourself for an appraisal?

The best thing to do is to be prepared on the front end. We walk through each of our clients’ properties before they ever go on the market - we want to be sure that we know exactly what we’re dealing with before we even get started.

But even after the initial appraisal, there are certain steps you can take to help protect yourself as a seller. They all involve awareness. The key to surviving an inspection or appraisal is to know absolutely everything about your home.

Is paint peeling? Are smoke detectors operating properly?

If you’re not so sure about your home’s condition, it doesn’t hurt to have everything double-checked by a professional.

Working with an FHA Offer

You don't have to be afraid of FHA offers if you're prepared to receive them.

Talk of appraisals inevitably leads us to the FHA financing discussion. As we stated earlier, FHA offers cannot go through without an appraisal that backs up the buyer’s value assessment.

So that being the case, should you even accept an FHA-backed offer?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d like. It would be impossible to say yes or no without specific insights about the duplex that you’re selling. Some are prime for FHA purchases and others would fail the inspection.

If you weren’t already aware, take note of the fact that inspections are an even bigger deal when the buyer is making an offer with FHA financing. Buyers utilizing FHA are only able to buy properties that pass an inspection with a very specific set of requirements. A failed inspection equates to an offer falling through or changes made by you, the seller.

If you don’t relish that idea, then we’d definitely encourage you to do a careful self-assessment of your property in accordance with FHA requirements. We work closely with our clients before recommending that they accept an FHA offer.

That said, we’re not scared of them in the right circumstances. In many cases, buyers utilizing FHA offer more money than those utilizing conventional loans.


As a seller, the best way to protect yourself is by partnering with a duplex expert. Our team, The Duplex Doctors, is the #1 seller of duplexes in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities region as a whole - and we have been for 5 years straight.

If you have a duplex to sell, we’d love to come alongside you throughout the process so that you can get the highest possible value out of your duplex.

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