Semi-attached homes, also known as duplexes, have taken over a larger chunk of the U.S. real estate market in recent years as a way to expand suburban housing options. And, while they’ve done just that, not everyone is enthusiastic about these new structures, with landlords, in particular, facing a new variety of complaints. That’s why managing a semi-attached property requires a special skillset.
If you’re a Katy-area landlord who is considering buying semi-attached homes for your rental business, stop to consider these 4 factors first. Though a profitable proposition in such a booming area, managing semi-attached houses isn’t the same as handling apartments or fully detached homes.
Buying and Benefits
There are several reasons you to consider purchasing semi-attached homes as part of your property holdings, but one of the most prominent reasons people invest in this sort of property is because they offer significant financial benefits. First, building a semi-attached home costs less than building two equally sized single-family homes, so you invest less money overall, but still collect two rent checks.
Semi-attached houses are also typically located in nicer neighborhoods than traditional apartments and are even beginning to pop up in more suburban areas. So, expect to collect higher rents based on location as well. Remember, rent isn’t just tied to square footage or amenities, but to schools and other local resources.
Of course, rents may be higher for single family detached homes, but you’re equally likely to make that up in expenses – extra landscaping and maintenance work, property taxes and the like. When you’re the manager and not the resident, the economic reasons to opt for semi-attached properties can be overwhelmingly positive.
The Complaint Department
The biggest issue you’re likely to face if you choose to buy semi-attached homes is resident complaints, which arise for two key reasons. First, tenants tend to view semi-attached homes as more similar to single family homes and will object more to noisy neighbors than they would if they lived in a traditional apartment where noise is viewed as par for the course.
When it comes to noise issues, be prepared to field these complaints, and be straightforward about what you are and aren’t willing to do about it. Yes, you’ll talk to the neighbors but no, you won’t install soundproofing, for example.
The second reason you may encounter more complaints about semi-attached homes is because of environmental issues. Many duplexes are designed to reduce heating and cooling bills through shared utilities, but if your residents are playing thermostat wars, this can build animosity.
This is a situation where good insulation is your friend. Your tenants should be able to maintain their apartment at a comfortable temperature, but you may not be aware of the problem until neighbors in conflict bring it to your attention.
The Neighbor Vs. The Landlord
It’s not uncommon for landlords to get their start by purchasing an affordable duplex, taking up residence on one side, and renting out the other. Sometimes this works very well – you have external support helping you cover the mortgage, you have a place to live, and you can directly oversee the upkeep of the property. On the other hand, it can be hard living immediately alongside your tenants; you aren’t on an equal playing field.
You also need to set very clear boundaries and policies if you’re managing a property where you also live. For example, while Green Residential offers 24/7 support for Katy-area landlords, if you’re living right next door, it can be hard to keep tenants from knocking continuously at 2 AM when a maintenance problem occurs. You’re right there, after all.
While you need to maintain appropriate rules that keep tenants from overreaching into your personal life, as an on-site landlord, you’ll also need to be an especially well-mannered neighbor. Since there’s no one to adjudicate between you and your tenant, and you hold the position of power, you should be diligent about such issues as noise control. It’s hard for a tenant to complain directly to their landlord without fearing repercussions, so don’t give them reason to question your ability to be a good neighbor.
One of the best things you can do if you’re going to purchase one or more Katy-area duplexes is to be strategic about creating neighbor pairings. For example, if you own several homes and have rented out half of one property to a family with children, with the option to place an older, childless couple on the opposite side of the wall or in a different building altogether, shift them to the empty building. Put families with children together, quieter couples together – they’ll be less likely to be bothered by each other’s habits.
If you don’t have the luxury of pairing your residents this way, take extra steps to build neighborly bonds. One of the most common reasons that duplex neighbors don’t get along and complain to management is that they simply don’t know each other. Encourage the neighbors to share a drink out front or take steps to properly introduce them. Many issues that arise between neighbors would hardly register if the pair knew each other better.
Beyond The Budget: Managing Semi-Attached Properties
If you’re currently considering purchasing one or more duplexes in the Katy area, take some time to weigh your options. Would it be worth the added expense of investing in single-family homes instead, or are you prepared to endure the many complaints of duplex neighbors? Each option has its pros and cons.
Of course, there’s also the third – and best – option: enlist the help of Green Residential. With over 30 years of experience in property management, we can guide you every step of the way, crafting fantastic listings, screening tenants, collecting rent, and even handling maintenance.
Contact Green Residential today to learn more about our Katy area property management services. We can help you weigh the options and select the services you need to professionally care for your tenants. That’s the Green Residential difference: we sweat the small stuff, so you don’t have to.