Readers Ask: Readers Know (Usually)

The Frontsteps is littered with experts, so when a reader asks a question, seems like the highest form of logic is to simply pose that question to the aforementioned experts.

Yesterday I asked if any, any, any reduction in price could make being a landlord for a full occupied, multi-unit property worthwhile. One reader, in response, asked:

By deliadelia on Oct 1, 2009 |

Hey all, is any reader on here a landlord? Is it really as bad as all I hear? I am thinking of trying to leverage a tenant as income to buy a 2 unit building (1 empty, 1 occupied). I’m not sure what I’m getting into.

I’m nowhere near a landlord, not even in my dreams, so I can’t say much here. Anyone else able to help Delia?

7 thoughts on “Readers Ask: Readers Know (Usually)

  1. Hi, I actually did what you are considering, and it worked out OK – so far.
    the main problem is that we had to do an owner move in eviction – you then have to stay there for 3 years, or offer back to old tenants at old rent if you do not -but it doesnt sound like you have that problem.
    we leveraged with 1/3rd downpayment, and the rent covers around a 1/3rd of costs, so we pick up the final third.
    I guess now, after refinancing, we could rent both units out and probably break even (won;t cover principal payments, but definitely interest and prop tax).
    The key is the mortgage rate – when we refied back in Jan there was a new limit for 2 units for 800k or so, which we just crept under. with the fact its owner occupied, and some points, we managed to get a rate of 4.875% 30yr fixed- but if the loan is over 800k it’s jumbo I think which would be much higher (not sure on current rates).
    hope that helps, I can recommend a mortgage broker who we used for our purchase and refi and liked, if you get further along…

  2. I’ve been a landlord for 12 years in SF. My partner & I purchased our two-unit building in Noe Valley in 1998. We’ve lived upstairs & have successfully rented our lower unit since then, always at market rates. We were able to purchase our building because the rental income made it affordable. Financially speaking, it’s a lot more challenging to do this today, because you’ll probably need at least 30% down in order to make the numbers work at all. Selecting tenants is a matter of good judgement, due diligence, and luck. We have never had any major issues and have always had really nice tenants.

    I’m sure you’ll get a variety of answers, some negative & some positive. But I have never regretted our decision, and it’s allowed us to live in a neighborhood we might otherwise not have been able to afford.

  3. Oh and yes, I need the broker referral, but am afraid to post my email here in case too many um ..referrals come my way.

  4. I’m going to post this again in the correct place….

    The best thing you could do with a 2 unit building is try to find someone to buy the other unit because you can condo convert without going through the lottery. Think 1 year if you are really motivated and on top of the process.

    As for rentals, San Francisco is challenging but not impossible. And compared to the rest of the country, there is still significant demand.

  5. I’ve own a prime rental in Pacific Heights for the past 7 years, and I’ve never had a problem with tenants. Maybe it’s b/c it attracts a responsible, well-heeled crowd.

    For the 2 units, just have an open conversation with them. ANYTHING is possible, if both sides understand each side.

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