This is an encore blog entry, first posted on August 10, 2007. Since then, I have had two more two-family buyers. The good choices for two-family homes have been few and far between. Both houses I have worked with were old, solid, but needed extensive updating.
I had buyers close on a two-family home last week. They had a long and hard search because there were so few nice options. I am glad to have them join the dwindling ranks of two-family homes owners.
The mass conversion of two-family homes into two-condo associations has reduced the supply. The steep increase in sale prices without a proportionate rental increase made the economic benefit of owning a two-family less appealing.
For me, buying a two-family house was the best decision I ever made. (Actually, the second best – you haven’t met my husband!) When we bought in 1996, two-family ownership was still a stepping-stone into home ownership for working class people. Collecting rent made the mortgage manageable. The house size is flexible, which is good for growing and shrinking families. Some owners stayed for a lifetime, some saved money then moved on to single family homes. In either case, it was good for real estate business and good for the community.
Now, there are large numbers of condos where two-family homes used to be. Condos are great housing for people at the beginning and end of their adult life. They are not the ideal place for young families with children. Because of this, cities like Somerville are experiencing a decline in school-aged children. In addition, there are fewer options for people trying to buy their first home. Both of these things are bad for real estate business and bad for the community.
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