Is a duplex an affordable solution for two households?

Post date: 2022-05-28 04:02:06
Views: 10
Is buying a duplex in Portland, Oregon with in-laws a brilliant idea, or a big mistake? Seeking information about co-ownership finances, methods, best practices, and also maybe some real stories.

Me and my husband have been dreaming about getting out of our home state and moving to Portland. He wants to live close to his sister so he can help with childcare and so he can have family. I want to move to portland so I can live a walkable lifestyle and be in PNW nature. My husband's sister has a couple kids, a couple dogs, and a husband. They want to get a bigger place themselves, or even build an addition onto their current house.

We've both got about 100k equity in our current homes. We had the idea of buying a duplex because:
1. Duplex units cost a little more than a single-family home but not significantly, bringing PDX housing costs into the reach of our incomes (fingers crossed).
2. It would solve the issue of children safety traveling between the houses - Even a little distance between them and us would mean the kids would be significantly prevented from moving about - e.g. the difficulty of getting into car seats vs. walking down the street.
3. 4 incomes supporting the property would ease the expenses of repairs and renovations

However, there are also some barriers:
1. Traditional co-ownership would prevent either couple from taking equity out of the house unless the other did, too. We'd all have to sell the house at the same time, if one couple wanted to move.
2. Not sure how financing would work - Do traditional mortgage lenders work with multiple parties like this, or would we need to find someone specific?
3. Not sure about the quality of multi-family units - would it be better to buy a SFH and convert it into two units, or to buy an existing duplex?
4. If we're moving to portland, we likely will need to find jobs once we get there. Would the fact that we didn't have jobs currently affect our ability to get a mortgage?

What would be a *reasonable* timeline for us to plan for?
What is a reasonable housing cost we could get a mortgage for with 200k equity and maybe 150-200k income total?
Is co-owning a house a great idea? or a big mistake?
What's the best way to do this while maintaining and growing our equity?
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