Two Times as Rich in a Two-Flat

Two-flats make a comback in Chicago area

By Kristin Nehls
|  Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009  |  Updated 1:18 PM CDT
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Two Times as Rich in a Two-Flat

Renting out half of a two-flat is a great way for Chicagoans to make some extra money or cover rising expenses.

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In this tough economy, not many people can afford a lakeside condo with the perfect view and spacious bedrooms.

But there is a different option and it's one that’s growing in popularity: two-flats.

More and more Chicagoans are living within their means, comfortably and independently, and earning a profit – sometimes as much as $1800 per month – by renting out one or both apartments in their two-flats. In some cases, a third apartment -- a garden apartment -- has been added with the renovation of the basement of the building.

When the housing bubble first burst, homeowners bailed on their two-flats above anything else. The number of foreclosures on the buildings that house two-flats has been high, driving down the price.

"They're a phenomenal investment right now," Stephen Northey, of Koenig & Strey Realtor and the owner of an Edgewater two-flat, told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a great way to get a leg into a better neighborhood than you could ordinarily afford."

Most two-flat owners rent out one floor and charge their tenant over half of the rental price, leaving the two-flat owner paying a miniscule rent.

"I rented out the first floor for $900 a month and my mortgage was $1,300," Steve Hobbs, owner of a Wicker Park two-flat said. "My wife and I were living in the top floor for $400 a month."

Renting out a two-flat does come with the responsibilities of a landlord, but most buyers don’t see this as a problem. It is, after all,  the age of technology, right?   With DoItYourself, WikiHow and YouTube, we’re all designers, plumbers and electricians.  And if you play it right, you can also be the Lord of the Castle.

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