Here at the Duplex Doctors, we specialize in helping families and individuals buy their first multi-unit property in the Minneapolis area. We specifically love helping them understand the investment potential of buying a duplex or other multi-unit property.
From 2012-2022, Jason Reed, the team leader of Duplex Doctors, was ranked as the #1 seller of duplexes in the Minneapolis area, as well as the entire Twin Cities area.
After years of being asked some of the same basic questions, we wanted to put together an article to help those of you who are looking at duplexes and other options for the very first time.
If you have any additional questions or are in the market for a duplex or multi-unit property, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to help you find the perfect match!
In this article we are going to go over some of the basic questions that come up from our clients every day. This will be a high level overview starting with the simplest questions and working into some slightly more complex areas.
What is a duplex house?
A duplex house is a house that has two separate homes in one building. These two homes share a wall or roof, are on one piece of property, and are typically viewed as one construction.
Duplexes can be side by side (pictured above) or stacked on top of one another.
How does Duplex ownership work?
Before we dive into the other types of multi-unit properties, let’s talk about how duplex ownership works.
When a person buys a duplex, they are buying the entire property and will own both units. They are seen as one distinct property.
This is beneficial because it means if a buyer wants to live in one side then they can still use a standard residential mortgage to finance the property, potentially saving them a ton on their closing costs or down payment.
Keep this difference in mind as we look at the other investment property types. It will be important when it comes to understanding the difference between town houses, condos, apartments, and duplexes.
What is the difference between a duplex and a townhouse?
When a person buys a townhouse they are buying only one unit of that property and not the entire building.
In Europe there is an opportunity to buy something called a 1/2 Plex or only one side of a duplex, but in the US we don’t see a lot of that.
Another key difference between a townhouse and a duplex is that a townhouse can be attached to more than two units, where a duplex, by definition, is only two units attached together.
There are triplexes and quadplexes, which are similar to a duplex, but the number of housing areas is increased to either three (triplex)or four (quadplex/fourplex).
You can also check out this article by Quicken Loans, where they list out some of the differences.
What is the difference between a duplex and an apartment?
Once again, when buying an apartment you only purchase that one specific unit and not the whole building (unless you are buying an apartment building, which is different).
An apartment is usually a part of a 5+ unit building, where there are amenities that are shared by all residents. Apartments also typically don’t have their own yards.
When we speak about shared amenities, think about a gym or pool at an apartment building. Typically, all owners are going to have access to those amenities and split the fees between themselves.
Duplexes will typically have their own yard and are only a part of a two-unit building. They also don’t typically have shared amenities.
Apartment ABC has an excellent article if you're looking for more information about specific differences between apartments and duplexes. Check it out here.
What is the difference between a duplex and a condo?
A condominium, or condo for short and an apartment have a lot in common because they are both typically 5+ unit buildings where amenities are shared by all owners. So the differences between the apartment and a duplex are the same as a condo.
The duplex doesn’t have shared amenities and both units are owned by the same person, but the condo does have shared amenities and you are only buying one unit (unless you are buying an entire condo building).
Condos are distinct in that they often have more stringent rules and guidelines surrounding the community. They also have more options when it comes to including utilities or even maintenance in the ownership of the condo.
If you were to pay off a duplex you would only have to keep up with the normal bills required of a residential property; things like, maintenance, HOA fees, utilities, and property taxes (if applicable).
If you were to pay off a condo, depending on the complex you buy into, you may still have an ongoing fee that is required each month that covers various amenities, etc.
If you're looking for more information on the difference between a duplex and a condo, check out another article on this here.
Now that we’ve covered the main differences between the investment types and a duplex, let’s look at the main benefits to owning a duplex.
What is the main benefit to owning a duplex?
Duplex houses are great for families who are looking to buy a house and use it as an investment. A lot of duplex owners will live in one side and then rent the other side out. Many owners are even able to pay their whole mortgage by doing this, effectively letting them live rent free!
The same principal works with triplexes and quadplexes, but the upfront cost can be a bit more as you are paying for even more living spaces.
You can see why buying a duplex can be a very lucrative idea!
What areas in the Minneapolis area have the most duplexes/multi-unit properties?
After specializing in duplexes and other multi-unit properties for years, we’ve seen the most properties in the following areas:
1. Northeast Minneapolis
2. Eastside of Saint Paul
3. Seward/Longfellow Area in South Minneapolis
4. West 7th Area of Saint Paul
5. Powderhorn Park Area of Minneapolis
Are duplexes good investments?
Each investment will depend on the specific property you are buying and the circumstances (whether you are living in one side or not), but we’ve made our careers out of specializing in duplexes so it's safe to say that we believe they are! In fact, many of our own team members currently own several investment properties that are duplexes, triplexes, and even quadplexes!
Realwealth.com did an excellent write-up about the pros and cons of investing in a duplex vs a single family home. We definitely think its worth checking out! You can find it here.
How can I find a duplex to invest in?
Right on our website we keep a list of various duplexes that are for sale, but we would strongly encourage you to reach out to us so we can help you meet your specific needs. We can help you determine things like the best school district, best areas for safety, or even the best options if you want to build equity.
After focusing on duplexes and investment units for years we know the best things to do in a renovation to get you the most bang for the buck on your return potential.
We take your privacy seriously and do not sell or give away your personal information. Information on our site is accurate to the best of our knowledge but is liable to contain errors in which case The Duplex Doctors will not be held legally responsible.