Duplex Risks

Should Shannon take the plunge and buy a duplex, or are there risks she doesn't know about?

QUESTION: Shannon is debt free and can buy a house. She found one, but it’s half of a duplex and she won’t own the other side. What are some of the risks associated with repairs and sharing a wall?

ANSWER: In most markets, that would be called a zero-lot line. You own half the lot and the line runs down the common wall. I would only be concerned if this type of ownership is common among your price range and that this will have a good market when you get ready to resell it. It probably doesn’t have as much upside as a single family. I’ve seen areas where condos are booming, so you need to ask yourself how the marketplace within 25 miles of this place treats this type of ownership.