Buying a Duplex vs a Single-Family Home for a Vacation Home

South Padre Island vacation rental home

Eager house hunters frequently encounter all sorts of scenarios they never bargained for. For example, they may fall in love with a home that does not conform to their original wish list. They could become intrigued by a home with a pool, a two-story when they were adamant about a single-story, an unusual floor plan or architectural style. Sometimes, prospective buyers may be faced with choosing between a duplex vs. a single-family home.

There are a variety of reasons that could make a specific duplex suddenly more appealing than a single-family home: it’s in a great neighborhood, the price is better, it has built-in amenities, it’s newer. Now, let’s consider the general pros and cons:

Single-family pros and cons

  • Owning a single-family home means more freedom to do what you want when you want to do it, such as choices in regard to painting, renovating, updating, decorating, landscaping and perhaps throwing a big party.
  • Residing in a single-family home is more private than sharing space in a duplex.
  • When you are ready to sell, you will not have to worry about uprooting tenants.
  •  You will be solely responsible for the mortgage and will not be able to use rental income to assist with monthly debt obligations.

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Is the Condo-Hotel Market Making a Comeback?


Those looking for the perks of homeownership with the amenities of a hotel may find their perfect investment in what’s known as a condo-hotel property.

What is a condo-hotel?

A condo-hotel is a housing establishment that offers buyers the chance to purchase a unit in a community that offers a multitude of features that one would normally have to go to a luxury hotel to enjoy. These amenities can include anything from movie rentals to on-site spa services to room service and more.

A recent story from featured a buyer named Rainer Viete, who travels from Venezuela to Florida about once a month and found his ideal home away from home in the soon-to-be-built Hyde Resort & Residences in Miami. Viete was quoted as saying, “I love the amenities the building will have – a restaurant that can provide room service, a concierge, maintenance, a person that can clean your place, valet parking.”

The Hyde Resort & Residences is a $250 million project that is scheduled to break ground in August. According to Bloomberg, the community is already 85 percent sold.

A Growing Trend?

The Hyde Resort & Residences represents just one of many more such projects that developers are putting into the works. While the condo-hotel concept collapsed with the 2008 real estate crisis, developers across the United States are beginning to see a revived interest in the unique, amenity-driven real estate option.

In addition to Miami, other major U.S. real estate markets such as New York and Los Angeles are jumping on the condo-hotel bandwagon. According to some industry professionals, the combination of a rising demand for luxury homes and the rebounding hospitality market makes for the perfect economic conditions for the condo-hotel niche.

“One plus one makes three,” said hotelier Ian Schrager, who is developing Miami Beach’s Edition, a luxury lodging-and-residential tower with Marriott International Inc. Schrager is also working on a similar project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with Witkoff Group.

“When you add condos to a hotel, the sum of the parts is more than the value of each individual component alone,” Schrager told Bloomberg. “They complement each other.”

Name Brands Attract Buyers

Another aspect that seems to be attracting wealthy buyers is the fact that most condo-hotels are operated under well-known brand names.

“No matter how wealthy you are, you are always considering where to park your cash,” said Steve Nagelberg in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “But when I saw the Ritz-Carlton name, I thought, you can depend on this. I knew this type of company would be here not just a year from now, but 20 years from now.”

Nagelberg is a 60 year old orthopedic surgeon who bought a home in the Ritz-Carlton Residences in downtown Los Angeles. He and his wife purchased the 4,100-square foot three-bedroom unit in 2012.


As you might imagine, these types of homes aren’t cheap. Depending on location, amenities and size, a unit in a condo-hotel could range anywhere from $200,000 (pre-construction) to more than $1 million.

Despite the expense, condo-hotel units can provide the opportunity to make money. In condo-hotels, many owners do not reside in their units full-time, allowing the hotel to rent out the units when they’re not in use and provide revenue for the residents, similar to a time share. This can be a fairly lucrative investment for the savvy buyer, but like any financial endeavor, it doesn’t come without a certain level of risk.

Wealthy or not, potential buyers in the condo-hotel market should take the time to investigate the property, the management company, and consult a financial advisor for details – especially if this is their first experience with purchasing in a condo-hotel, time share or similar real estate transaction.

Condo Lenders

Most residential mortgage lenders offer financing for condominiums. However, condo financing is not always as easy as it is for stand alone properties. There are additional considerations lenders take into account such as the number of units used as rentals, the number of floors in the property, adequate insurance coverage, whether the HOA is managed and dues are current, and other contributing factors. Conducting a simple online search for condo financing, we found relatively well know companies such as Wells Fargo, eLEND, and American Bank. When speaking with a mortgage company, we sure to come prepared with some details on the property and provide the lender/s with the contact information for the HOA. The lender will require a representative to complete a condo questionnaire which will help them determine whether the property fits within their product guidelines. You’ll will be thanking yourself for taking care of this step at the on-set of the process rather than out 2 days before closing that they cannot help you.

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Plan Your Escape to Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

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