331 PARK Street, Kitchener, N2G1N2
331 PARK Street, Kitchener, Ontario N2G1N2
25 HAHN Place, Kitchener, N2M1R4
25 HAHN Place, Kitchener, Ontario N2M1R4
11 BELMONT Avenue W, Kitchener, N2M1L2
11 BELMONT Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario N2M1L2
86 WHITNEY Place, Kitchener, N2G2X7
86 WHITNEY Place, Kitchener, Ontario N2G2X7
711 FREDERICK Street, Kitchener, N2B2B3
711 FREDERICK Street, Kitchener, Ontario N2B2B3
92 PLYMOUTH Road, Kitchener, N2G3G5
92 PLYMOUTH Road, Kitchener, Ontario N2G3G5
What is a Duplex?
The simple answer is a duplex is two homes in one. A duplex is one property on a single lot with one owner that contains two separate residences with two separate entrances.
These units can be stacked on top of one another or side by side. It is common for a duplex owner to live in one unit while renting out the other. Tenants do not have any ownership rights in a duplex situation, and the owner is responsible for the upkeep and insurance of the property.
Styles and Formats for Duplexes (Side by Side vs Up-Down)
Side by side duplexes are similar to townhouses and consist of two units which are attached by a shared dividing wall. The stairs for each unit are usually located along the shared wall. These residences often have more than one level.
Up and down duplexes are similar to apartments and consist of two units stacked on top of one another. These residences often consist of one level with no interior stairs.
Where Can Duplexes Be Found in Kitchener-Waterloo?
The highest concentration of duplexes can be found in the central Kitchener area – downtown Kitchener along King Street East and Frederick Street, as well as the East Ward and Mill-Courtland areas.
In Kitchener you can also find duplexes in the areas of Stanley Park, Fairview, and Kingston. And in Waterloo you can find duplexes in both the University and Lakeshore areas.
Advantages of Duplexes
Financial Benefits – Owners may qualify for a larger mortgage since lenders often use 50% of the rental income in the mortgage qualification process. This means owners have a better chance of getting into a market that would otherwise be too expensive. Building up equity is also a financial benefit of owning a duplex and can help with retirement savings or life goals.
Tax Benefits – The rental portion of the duplex can result in tax benefits for mortgage interest, home repair, utilities, and insurance costs.
Increased Revenue from Property Investment – Owners can live in one unit of the residence and rent out the other to maximize earning potential and save on mortgage and housing costs.
Perfect for Intergenerational or Close Family Living – Family members can share a residence and still have their own space and privacy. This is especially helpful in situations where people are elderly, have special needs, or are just starting out in family and / or career life.
Benefits of “home” – Duplexes often come with private spaces like patios, garages, or outdoor green areas which would not be included in an apartment or condo setting.
Disadvantages of Duplexes
Becoming a landlord – This could also be a pro, but be aware that being a landlord is not for everyone. You will need to keep up with landlord-tenant laws, and become familiar with the Ontario Standard Lease. It is also very important to learn how to effectively screen possible tenants to hopefully save yourself frustration and disappointment.
Your tenants may live next door – As a landlord you are often on-call 24 / 7 and this can be more of a possible frustration if your tenants live next door. They may also have different ideas about sharing the property.
Potentially more expensive – There will be more repairs on older properties, and it’s better to be proactive when it comes to property maintenance. You may experience more damage no matter how well you screen your tenants. The rental market may shift into a time of decreased demand and you may have to carry the mortgage on your own for a time. And appreciation on duplexes is not as good as single family residences.
More maintenance responsibilities – You will need to take on the exterior landscaping and snow shoveling, as well as any utility issues or interior repairs and renovations.
Lower demand and limited locations – If you find yourself wanting to sell your duplex, the property may sit on the market longer than most single family homes. Not everyone wants to take on a duplex or have it as their first home. Also you will often find there are less of them available in the areas where you are looking to purchase.
Considerations When Buying a Duplex
What are your goals and dreams for real estate investing? Do they include duplex ownership? Can you manage the time, effort, and costs of property management? Will you live on-site in the duplex and rent out the other side, or live off-site and rent out both units? These are all important considerations when buying a duplex.
No matter what you decide about the variables in duplex ownership, if you are going to purchase a duplex make sure it is legal. This means the property has been inspected and approved by the municipality as a two-unit home. Also be sure to purchase a property that will bring in enough rental income to cover a majority of the housing costs.
Obtaining a Mortgage for a Duplex
When looking to purchase a duplex it is important to clarify your plans for living on-site or off-site. If you live on-site you will most likely need less than 20% down payment (probably between 5-10% with 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on the remaining value).
The lower down payment means you will have to meet CMHC requirements. Also you may have to live in one of the units for at least a year and the property must be valued below $1 million. If you live off-site and the duplex is purely for investment purposes, you will need at least 20% down payment. Also note that a large portion of future rental income can be used to help you quality for the mortgage.
Financial and Cashflow Considerations for a Duplex
When evaluating the feasibility of investing in a duplex, take note of the costs associated with the property and whether or not it can be a profitable part of your real estate portfolio. The big question is can it result in a positive cashflow? Some things to consider in your evaluation are principal mortgage payments, interest payments, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, utility costs and possible vacancies.
Duplex ownership can play an important role in your real estate investment goals. If you weigh the pros and cons and determine this is the right path for you, be sure to screen tenants thoroughly and verify the cashflow potential of the property. Then enjoy the benefits of your hard work and commitment to your goals!