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Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

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Memento Mori
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Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#1

Post by Memento Mori »

Not sure if this is the right place for this, but it is an investment I suppose. I am looking at buying a property with a view to living in it for around 5 years, and then either renting it out or selling and moving to something larger, all going to plan. I have narrowed his search down to three properties, all of which have their pros and cons:

1. A modern mid terrace 3 bed in very good condition, but not really walking distance of some things, particularly an issue as is not close to public transport. That said, the location is quite scenic and close to outdoorsy amenities. The neighbouring estate being constructed will be social housing. This property has the most expensive asking price.

2. A 1960's 3 bed semi-d with good size gardens but needs considerable upgrades over time - think your parents house type vibe, only 1 bathroom etc. Location is average, an "old" area. Most things are within a 15/20 min walk, but push to a half-hour for main public transport links. This has an asking about the same as the terrace.

3. An early 2000s 3 bed duplex. This property is the largest inside of the three, but obviously has no gardens. The interior is on a par with the terrace. The location is by far the best for my needs, near public transport links for the occasional commute (or everyday if wfh ends), shops, schools etc. in a "nice" part of the town. Everything is within a 10 min walking distance. This has an asking about 15/20k cheaper. Development is a mix of duplex blocks with 2 2 beds on the ground-floor and 2 3 beds above them, semi-d and detached houses. There are a considerable number of rentals in the estate, especially the 2 beds. Seems quiet enough though.

Budget is severely limiting my options.

You can see that there are pros and cons to each, there is no clear winner, so I'm looking for some feedback.

I would generally rank location as being very important, but I don't want to live in something I find miserable, especially if my plan goes awry and I don't sell or rent it out in 5 years. If the terrace for example were in the location of the duplex I wouldn't be thinking of looking at the semi-d at all, but I would have some concerns about the duplex.

I don't mind the steps (at the moment), but I have concerns about how things like maintenance and insurance of the block work. I'm assuming it is like an apartment block with a management company with a sinking fund for major roof work etc. with a fair amount, including insurance, covered by management fees. I gather also that the water and waste etc. is all linked with the 2 bed apartment below (which is probably a rental) so I don't have the freedom to do things like I would with a house where everything is under my control. This scares me a little, as I know someone who owns an apartment and basically people wouldn't pay the fee and the management company pissed away all the money. The other worry is noise from neighbours, but this could apply to all of the properties I guess, as I cannot afford a detached. Can this be better or worse in a duplex? The final main worry is resaleability, with the steps etc. old people and people with young kids won't be interested which could make it more difficult to sell. Could this be balanced by investors wanting an easy to maintain property?

Any and all feedback on duplex living/ownership is appreciated.
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Scotty
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#2

Post by Scotty »

Option 3 for me, presuming you don't have a car or are planning on having small kids. That said, I've never lived in any of the three options.
I am looking at buying a property with a view to living in it for around 5 years, and then either renting it out or selling and moving to something larger, all going to plan.
When it comes to property it is always a gamble.

Interest rates have been at pretty much zero for several years. They can only go one way now. In October 2021 we had the highest monthly inflation in the EU in THIRTEEN YEARS! Looking at fuel prices, etc, inflation is going to rocket over the next 6-18 months. How do we curb inflation? We raise interest rates. If it's your forever home or somewhere you don't mind being stuck in then I'd go for it. But, I'd be very weary of buying property at the moment that I wouldn't like to be stuck in long term. Just my two cent. None of us know what's going to happen.
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Memento Mori
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#3

Post by Memento Mori »

Scotty wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 10:58 am Option 3 for me, presuming you don't have a car or are planning on having small kids. That said, I've never lived in any of the three options.

When it comes to property it is always a gamble.

Interest rates have been at pretty much zero for several years. They can only go one way now. In October 2021 we had the highest monthly inflation in the EU in THIRTEEN YEARS! Looking at fuel prices, etc, inflation is going to rocket over the next 6-18 months. How do we curb inflation? We raise interest rates. If it's your forever home or somewhere you don't mind being stuck in then I'd go for it. But, I'd be very weary of buying property at the moment that I wouldn't like to be stuck in long term. Just my two cent. None of us know what's going to happen.
Thanks for feedback, some good points there.

No car or kids in the foreseeable (buying the property on my own) but I guess you never know. Although there is loads of parking, a designated spot and a playground and near school etc. families do live in the duplexes, but not ideal. Very conscious of inflation and interest rate rises which is why I'm making a move now. Mortgage will be fixed under 3% for the entire loan term.

If renting was feasible I would rent for five years and see what the craic is then. But rent for the same property would be about 2.5x what my mortgage will be. Pure insanity. Inflation would also harm my savings. I also plan to rent a room out once I'm set up, which will almost cover the mortgage with a fair, non-gouging rent, although I can easily afford the mortgage amount on my own. The finances are very manageable.

Getting "stuck" is a possibility for sure. Out of the three properties, none would be a "forever" home, in theory, rather a first property at perhaps never to be seen again low interest, and an escape from renting ever again.
Mountain
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#4

Post by Mountain »

The noise thing would be the biggest issue for me. I've never lived in a multi unit development but know lots of people who do and get along fine, but some people who are driven to breaking point because the can hear every whispered conversation and tap running and footstep next door. It just depends on construction.
CelticRambler
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#5

Post by CelticRambler »

If I was told to pick one of those, no other choice, for a five-year residence and then do what I like with it, I'd go for number three. My primary motivation would always be "what'll it be like if ...?" and one of the biggest (if not the biggest) factors these days is transport.

Good or bad, neighbours come and go; management companies are not necessarily any worse than cowboy builders that leave a job half-done; and gardens are great ... if you have the time and the enthusiasm and the talent and the money and the weather to look after them, otherwise they're an eyesore. If you end up renting it out after, a few steps will be of no consequence as along as your potential renters can get there by bus, tram, bike or car.
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isha
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#6

Post by isha »

Noise would be my big thing too. Hang around outside each location for a while and see what street level noise is, and maybe spend some time inside each place after work hours and see what the noise interference between properties is like.
If compelled to choose I would go for the one with the garden, but just because I would go crazy without somewhere to go ''out'' to. But in truth I would go for none of these, a house far out on its own in a remote place is the best for me. By the sea would be my dream, not there yet. I recently collected a friend in his very nice housing estate and while waiting for him I wondered how on earth do people have sex in places like this? There must be a lot of pillow biting going on.
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Memento Mori
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#7

Post by Memento Mori »

Thanks all. Noise is the concern alright. In my experience, once the property is of decent construction, then beyond that it relies on the character of the neighbours. You can find pricks everywhere. No insulation will stop you hearing the immediate neighbours have a screaming match at 1am.

In terms of "outside" noise, traffic etc, the duplex would be pretty quiet I'd have no concerns there. Its noise from the adjoining duplex and the apartment below that is the concern, which depends on construction. It seems decent but am going back to view at around 6pm next week so will see then. The terrace would be louder due to nearby construction. The semi-d would probably be on a par with the duplex for "outside" noise with comings and goings.

Isha, the long term plan is actually to buy a small farm, but that's a long ways away. The search for a farmers daughter continues :D

I think once the management company situation is ok and I can get over the steps the duplex may be the best option. I'd get over the garden situation. Admittedly it is a bit of "best of a bad bunch" but I have to cut my cloth to measure, and it's not forever.
schmittel
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#8

Post by schmittel »

If the finances are very manageable on your own, I'd go for number three on one of Avant's 30 year fixed rates. I suspect in a few years time those rates will be as sought after as trackers have been for the past few years.
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Memento Mori
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#9

Post by Memento Mori »

schmittel wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 3:04 pm If the finances are very manageable on your own, I'd go for number three on one of Avant's 30 year fixed rates. I suspect in a few years time those rates will be as sought after as trackers have been for the past few years.
Yep I have 30 year fixed mortgage lined up. Agree totally on your point re tracker.
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Scotty
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#10

Post by Scotty »

Memento Mori wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 2:14 pm Thanks all. Noise is the concern alright. In my experience, once the property is of decent construction, then beyond that it relies on the character of the neighbours. You can find pricks
Noise can be an issue with any house. My sister paid a small fortune for a lovely bungalow two years ago with a nice big garden bordered on one side by another property. A couple of months later the people who lived next door moved their dog kennels from the far side of their property (and close to their own house) to the side closest to my sisters and furthest away from their own house. The husband next door (they're both doctors and the house is empty most of the day) commented to my brother in law jokingly, "they're your problem now". The dogs rarely stop barking. They're not particularly loud (they're small dogs) but any time a car drives past, they hear the kids playing, a crow flies over, they hear another dog bark, or whatever, off they go into 10 or 15 minutes of constant barking. They've spoken to the neighbours to no avail and sought legal advise which was pretty much a dead end. They seriously looking at moving now.
Hairy-Joe
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#11

Post by Hairy-Joe »

Scotty wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 3:12 pm Noise can be an issue with any house. My sister paid a small fortune for a lovely bungalow two years ago with a nice big garden bordered on one side by another property. A couple of months later the people who lived next door moved their dog kennels from the far side of their property (and close to their own house) to the side closest to my sisters and furthest away from their own house. The husband next door (they're both doctors and the house is empty most of the day) commented to my brother in law jokingly, "they're your problem now". The dogs rarely stop barking. They're not particularly loud (they're small dogs) but any time a car drives past, they hear the kids playing, a crow flies over, they hear another dog bark, or whatever, off they go into 10 or 15 minutes of constant barking. They've spoken to the neighbours to no avail and sought legal advise which was pretty much a dead end. They seriously looking at moving now.
I've had plenty success with the Dog Warden when dealing with neighbors dogs that both wouldn't shut their mouth or had a habit of chasing after people walking on the road
Hairy-Joe
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#12

Post by Hairy-Joe »

OP, having lived in apartments, duplex, end of terrace and country bungalow, I'd go from the semi-detached from your list. The reason is simply neighbors.

At the moment, I'm in a country bungalow and that's my preference (and I'll be here for a LONG time I reckon). I'll put up with the non existent public transport, no footpaths, etc in order to have piece and quiet.
CelticRambler
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#13

Post by CelticRambler »

isha wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 1:52 pm If compelled to choose I would go for the one with the garden, but just because I would go crazy without somewhere to go ''out'' to. But in truth I would go for none of these, a house far out on its own in a remote place is the best for me.
I have gone for a house far out on its own for similar reasons, having grown up in a detached suburban house-with-big-garden, and then moved to my own semi-d with acceptable garden. But now that I've tasted the joys having somewhere to go "out" to, I realise that there's "out" and there's "out" and my parents' garden - the one I grew up in - doesn't offer a whole lot more than the nearby green spaces. They're only a few hundred metres from a bus stop with a good service into Dublin city centre, but if I had to move back to Dublin, I'd happily sacrifice a patch of suburban grass to be a couple of kilometres closer to the city.
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Memento Mori
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#14

Post by Memento Mori »

Thanks again folks really appreciate all the input. It's a tough one alright. Took a spin over earlier to the semi-d and then the duplex just to see the comings and goings. Duplex neighbourhood is actually a fair bit quieter even though it is more centrally located. Spied in the windows of the would be neighbours (form a distance!), in both instances they look like normal people just home from work.
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Memento Mori
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Re: Duplex vs Semi-D vs Terrace

#15

Post by Memento Mori »

Thought some might appreciate an update.

Something important to bear in mind about duplexes is that they are apartments, and in general the same will apply to a duplex as to an apartment when it comes to common areas and management companies. Essentially, you only own the interior. The roof, attic, balcony, much of the piping and exterior walls all are owned by the management company (i.e. in common with the other unit owners) in addition to the usual common areas, carpark, bin stores etc. In practical terms, this means the management company looks after all these things if there are any issues. So it is vital that the management company has been managed well.

In my case, I felt that the estate did not look like it was being very well managed - small things like a broken fence here and there, and a general need for everything to be painted. I asked the estate agent for a copy of the accounts, he didn't have any. A bad sign. I paid online and got copies of the accounts for each of the past five years. Long story short there is nothing in the sinking fund and the income is basically only enough to pay the block insurance, get the grass cut and the odd bit of emergency maintenance. There is no money in reserve to give everything a good painting, nevermind longer-term issues like gutter replacement, roof renovations etc. As the company is barely breaking even each year, any change in the amount of contributions would result in serious cash problems, which could culminate in insufficient money for emergency maintenance and/or block insurance. So I bowed out and am not proceeding with an offer.

Annoyingly, in the meantime the semi-d I had my eye on has gone sale agreed! The waiting game goes on.
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