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April 21, 2009

Two-Unit Buildings Abound in SF

I’m often asked about the availability of two-unit buildings (a.k.a. “duplexes”) in San Francisco. The idea of residing in one unit and renting out the other is a popular one—if the cash flow works out.

A quick look at the market reveals that there are 147 two-unit properties available right now. They range in price from $394,000 for a fully tenant-occupied, bank-owned building in Bayview; $1.1M for a Noe Valley duplex with a tenant in the lower unit; and $4,250,000 for a vacant property featuring 4BR/3.5BA up and 2BR/2BA down in the Buena Vista Park area.

Here’s the lowdown on these types of properties. Vacant two-unit buildings will likely be priced well above what a single owner will want to pay (i.e., cash flow won’t make sense if you’re renting the other unit out). This is because such properties are targeted at TIC buyers who want to owner occupy both units.

If you’re considering a two-unit building in which both units are tenant occupied, it’s important to recognize that owner move-in evictions are limited to one unit per building.

There are many variations on these types of homes, so knowing the facts before you even take time to look at a building is key.

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