If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of multi-family properties – but what is a duplex, and how is it different from a townhouse, condo, single-family home or any other type of property? This guide to duplexes explains.

What is a Duplex?

A duplex is a single building that contains two separate living units. The two units can be side-by-side, on top of each other, or a combination of the two. Duplexes are commonly called multi-family dwellings or multi-family properties because more than one family can live under one roof. The units are divided, like apartments and condos are, and they share some common walls. There are separate entrances for each unit, and sometimes duplexes have separate garages and yards, as well.

Note: In some major cities, the word duplex means a single-family unit that’s spread over two floors (also called a maisonette) – but in Silicon Valley, it means two homes under one roof.

What’s the Difference Between a Duplex and a Townhouse?

The main difference between a duplex and a townhouse lies in the number of walls the units share. In a duplex, usually only the middle walls are shared. Each unit has outside walls on three sides. Townhouses are typically built in a row, and some units are sandwiched in the middle with only two outside walls – one in the front and one in the back. Another key difference is that townhomes, often called row houses, are often built with similar aesthetics, while duplexes look like standard single-family homes.

Do You Own the Land When You Buy a Duplex?

When you buy a duplex, you own the land that’s associated with the house. That’s different from condos and apartments. When you own either of those, you don’t own the land they’re built on. You only own the interior walls and everything between them.

Related: Duplex Learning Center

What is a Duplex as an Investment Property

Is a Duplex a Good Investment?

For many people, duplexes are spectacular investments. When you own a duplex, you have the option of living in one unit and renting out the other – or, if you prefer, you can rent out both units. If you’re a savvy investor, you can double your rental income without raising the cost of your mortgage payments.

Because you can rent out two separate properties by owning one duplex, you may enjoy a higher return on investment. There’s only one roof to repair and one yard to maintain, and generally, duplex owners’ vacancy rates are more stable.

As long as the duplex you’re interested in buying is zoned appropriately, and as long as you’ve had it professionally inspected before you sign the dotted line, a duplex can be an excellent investment – and that’s true whether it’s your first investment property or your thousandth.

Is it Hard to Sell a Duplex?

Every market is different – what’s selling quickly in Campbell may take a week longer in Saratoga or a month in Los Gatos – and market conditions change nearly every day. Real estate is about supply and demand, so it’s difficult to say whether it’s hard to sell a duplex. Generally speaking, though, with the right staging and the right marketing expert on your side, it’s not hard to sell a duplex when you’re ready to change your investment strategy or you’re tired of being a landlord.

What is a Duplex - Buying a Duplex as an Investment Property

Are You Buying or Selling a Duplex, Triplex or Fourplex in Silicon Valley?

If you’re selling a duplex, triplex or fourplex in Campbell, Cambrian Park, Los Gatos, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Willow Glen or another community in Silicon Valley, we’re here to help. Call today or fill out the form below to find out about our innovative marketing plans that can put your investment property in front of all the right buyers.

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