Eager house hunters frequently encounter all sorts of scenarios they never bargained for. For example, they may fall in love with a home that does not conform to their original wish list. They could become intrigued by a home with a pool, a two-story when they were adamant about a single-story, an unusual floor plan or architectural style. Sometimes, prospective buyers may be faced with choosing between a duplex vs. a single-family home. There are a variety of reasons that could make a specific duplex suddenly more appealing than a single-family home: it's in a great neighborhood, the price is better, it has built-in amenities, it's newer. Now, let's consider the general pros and cons:

Single-family pros and cons

  • Owning a single-family home means more freedom to do what you want when you want to do it, such as choices in regard to painting, renovating, updating, decorating, landscaping and perhaps throwing a big party.
  • Residing in a single-family home is more private than sharing space in a duplex.
  • When you are ready to sell, you will not have to worry about uprooting tenants.
  •  You will be solely responsible for the mortgage and will not be able to use rental income to assist with monthly debt obligations.

Duplex pros and cons

  • Since one side will be rented out, you'll share the burden of the mortgage.
  • Depending on the rental agreement, other tasks may be shared as well, such as home and yard maintenance. However, this is often the sole responsibility of the owner.
  • As an vacation home owner, there may be a built-in neighbor who can take care of things when the owner is away.
  • If the duplex is in a resort area, it may be a very lucrative, in-demand rental.
  • It could be rented to a close friend or family member.
  • Should it be vacated, the homeowner would be responsible for a larger monthly house payment.

As you weigh your home buying options, we encourage you to get all of the facts from an experienced real estate and mortgage consultant. These days, there are so many choices when it comes to homes and financing. Here are some financing and how-to related resources on buying multi-family homes: