Living in a single-family home isn’t the only path to homeownership. Buying a double in New Orleans (duplexes for our out of town folks) can give you not just a place to call home, but also rental income to help with that monthly mortgage payment.
Things to know about buying a double in New Orleans
The ability to rent out half of your home and collect rent is a boon to your cash flow. It helps pay your monthly mortgage, taxes, and insurance. But it’s probably not going to be a cash cow – at least not at first, anyway.
Yes, you’ll reduce your monthly mortgage expense, but you’ll also need to put some money aside for the inevitable repair costs that will arise.
Just because you have a tenant doesn’t mean that the HVAC won’t go out or the roof won’t start leaking or the plumbing won’t back up. Also, rental income is not guaranteed. It can take effort to find the right tenants and there may be times when the unit sits vacant for a few weeks. Have a cushion to account for vacancies. Depending on the scope of the problem, the costs could be “double”.
FHA and VA financing are both viable options when purchasing a double. The maximum loan limits are actually higher for multi-family properties than with a single-family, enabling you to buy with a low to no down payment. While single-family FHA loans have a cap of $356,362, that limit rises to $456,275 when purchasing a double, and goes up to $685,400 for a 4-plex unit. (limits as of 2021)
Your property insurance will cover the entire structure and your personal contents. Tenant contents need to be covered by a separate renters policy. It’s important to include this clause as a part of any lease you enter into with tenants.
Being a Landlord
The first thing about being a live-in landlord is…you live right next door to your tenants. Knocks on the door for every request or complaint are pretty easy when you’re right there, so you’ll want to vet your neighbors carefully (and legally).
Have lease terms that clearly outline what you expect from people. For example, no large parties or no loud noise between certain hours. If it’s not in writing, it’s not enforceable, so think carefully about all of the things that you just can’t live with.
Repair costs can eat away at your rental income, so consider buying a home warranty to minimize the costs of things like broken dishwashers and air conditioners.
Related: Landlord advice
Questions? Give us a call at 504-327-5303 for more advice on buying doubles or other multi-family properties in and around New Orleans.