Duplex/Triplex Exit Strategy For the Newbie

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Looking to buy a Duplex or Triplex in a year or so, and live in one unit, rent out the others. My spouse & I think this is the best starter opportunity for us, as it spreads out the risk. The dilemma is we have a family with small children and want our own space sooner than later! This would be our first home (we'd use FHA or similar program to purchase) and we are working class folks...so what would be our exit strategy to get into our own home or buy additional property? Now, our exit strategy- technically- would be to keep this duplex/triplex and rent out all the units. But how would we overcome the whole debt to income ratio thing in order to finance our own single family residence in addition to owning this one? I've heard that lenders take in account rental income(if we use that financing source), but I would love to hear real life examples and numbers of how one makes that jump from "live-in" investor to a more hands-off (or further away ;) ) investor. Lastly, how does one protect oneself legally in this situation as an investor?

@Candis Robinson welcome to BiggerPockets and thanks for posting!

Last I checked, the lenders will take into account the rental income if you have shown landlord/rental property income on your tax returns for 2 years. You may be able to find a lender that is more lenient and will be okay with a year or so, but no guarantees. 

I believe they'll use 75% of gross rents minus the PITI payment to determine what your income from the property is. They may also use the actual data you provide to them via those tax returns.

Will your DTI be maxed out after the purchase of the Triplex? (Not including the rental income from it).

Thanks for your welcome & reply @Mehran K. Most likely DTI will be maxed out (if using general rule for conventional mortgages: 28/36%), not including rental income, if we purchase at our maximum purchase price. We are a homeschooling family on one income.

How would you approach it?

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