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Calvin Pringles
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Investing in SFH vs MF in St. Petersburg and Tampa

Calvin Pringles
  • Real Estate Agent
  • St. Petersburg, FL
Posted Jul 21 2023, 12:40

I wanted to share my thoughts on why I firmly believe that investing in single-family homes with an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) offers a better investment opportunity in the thriving St. Petersburg and Tampa real estate market compared to buying small multifamily properties like duplexes.

#1 Better Location Selection:

Single-family homes with ADUs provide more flexibility in choosing prime locations within these markets. While duplexes may be limited to specific areas zoned for multifamily use, single-family homes with ADUs can be found in a wider range of neighborhoods, including more desirable, family-friendly, and high-appreciating areas.

#2 More Privacy for Tenants:

With single-family homes and ADUs, tenants get the advantage of more privacy and independence compared to multifamily properties where tenants share common spaces. This attracts higher quality, mid to long-term tenants who often take better care of their living space.

#3 Higher Rent Potential:

ADUs offer an additional income stream, allowing investors to charge higher rents overall. It will also allow househackers to get their foot in the door, in a higher priced market/higher interest rate climate.

#4 Higher Appreciation Potential:

Single-family homes tend to appreciate more consistently and at a higher rate than small multifamily properties over time. Additionally, ADUs can further boost the overall property's value, creating a positive impact on appreciation potential.

#5 Higher Resell-ability and Market Demand:

Single-family homes with ADUs cater to a diverse pool of potential buyers, including investors and owner-occupants. This increases resellability, as you're not limited to selling to just other investors like with small multifamily properties. A broader market demand can lead to faster sales and potentially higher profits when it's time to exit the investment.

#6 Lower Maintenance Costs:

In comparison to small multifamily properties, single-family homes with ADUs often have lower maintenance and repair costs. As mentioned, higher quality tenants will be a direct result of this. Additionally, if you decided to STR/MTR your ADU, you will have higher turnover (with larger profit margins), meaning you can keep a closer eye on your unit for maintenance and upkeep.

Please remember that every investment decision should be based on thorough research and understanding of your personal financial goals and risk tolerance. I hope this post provides insight on why I am bullish on investing in single-family homes with ADUs versus smaller multifamily.

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Wale Lawal#2 House Hacking Contributor
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Replied Jul 21 2023, 13:51

@Calvin Pringles This is your own thoughts and opinions, every investor have their own investment buying criteria.

While Accessory Dwelling Uni (ADU) is a simple easy solution to competing for a small multifamily, they do have their own drawback as well.

Goodluck to everyone trying their best to make a deal happen.

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Replied Jul 22 2023, 09:46

Hello @Calvin Pringles

As I do agree with the points you have made. As I, myself have thought of doing a Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) instead of a duplex or triplex. Which as newbie to real estate investing and to Bigger Pockets just referred to them as In-Law suites. So thank you for teaching me something new today.

And as @Wale Lawal has mentioned that everyone will have their own "BUY BOX" (just learned what that was last week). And those ADU will have their own drawback.

Here are a few drawbacks I had thought of and if anyone would like to point out any additional drawbacks for ADU's please do.

Electric Meters: I doubt the even if the ADU is a separate structure they have a separate electric meter as they were mainly used for guests. What is the cost to have them installed?

Water Meters: Same as Electric Meters.

Permitting: Can ADU be used in such a matter? LTR, MTR, or STR?

Property: How much of the property is considered a common area? I know this is more preference by the owner. But what is best?

Calculations: As I again am very new to this. How would you even begin to make a calculation that this would be worth it for an investment? I recently saw a home with 2 ADU's one a 2/1 the other a 1/1. I have no idea how to do that math.

Those are but a few thoughts that I wanted to provide.

Good Luck, 

Joel Di Piazza The new Guy...

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Calvin Pringles's profile image
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Calvin Pringles's profile image
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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Aug 3 2023, 11:07
Quote from @Wale Lawal:

@Calvin Pringles This is your own thoughts and opinions, every investor have their own investment buying criteria.

While Accessory Dwelling Uni (ADU) is a simple easy solution to competing for a small multifamily, they do have their own drawback as well.

Goodluck to everyone trying their best to make a deal happen.

Thanks for the insight Wale. Looks like you are crushing it in your market with professional advice for you clients, and I strive to do the same thing here.

Curious - what drawbacks do you consider as it pertains to investing in ADU's vs small MF in St. Petersburg, FL?

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Calvin Pringles's profile image
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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Aug 3 2023, 11:11
Quote from @Joel Di Piazza:

Hello @Calvin Pringles

As I do agree with the points you have made. As I, myself have thought of doing a Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) instead of a duplex or triplex. Which as newbie to real estate investing and to Bigger Pockets just referred to them as In-Law suites. So thank you for teaching me something new today.

And as @Wale Lawal has mentioned that everyone will have their own "BUY BOX" (just learned what that was last week). And those ADU will have their own drawback.

Here are a few drawbacks I had thought of and if anyone would like to point out any additional drawbacks for ADU's please do.

Electric Meters: I doubt the even if the ADU is a separate structure they have a separate electric meter as they were mainly used for guests. What is the cost to have them installed?

Water Meters: Same as Electric Meters.

Permitting: Can ADU be used in such a matter? LTR, MTR, or STR?

Property: How much of the property is considered a common area? I know this is more preference by the owner. But what is best?

Calculations: As I again am very new to this. How would you even begin to make a calculation that this would be worth it for an investment? I recently saw a home with 2 ADU's one a 2/1 the other a 1/1. I have no idea how to do that math.

Those are but a few thoughts that I wanted to provide.

Good Luck, 

Joel Di Piazza The new Guy...

 Both electrical and water meters will need to be assessed by the city via city permitting. A lot of investors are doing it the round about way, and having a general contractor install these meters for dividing the bills. For me personally, I just take on the expense and charge a premium for rent given that I do the MTR options.

Common areas can include, but are not limited to anything outside of the personal residence. There can be shared laundry onsite, shared parking, shared (yet separated) yard space etc

As for the math portion, I run my rental comps on rentometer and compare it to other ADU's or 1/1 units and their rent amount. You can also find MTR rental amounts on furnished finder. From there it's your regular ol' cash on cash return calculations!

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Replied Nov 23 2023, 11:09

Are we talking about buying properties that already have an ADU or buying St. Pete properties that have a 2 car garage in order to create an Affordable 1-1?

The city has made ADUs very easy to permit if it’s your primary but I don’t believe an investor would be able to add one with a separate meter. 

I would agree and much rather buy a single family with a two car garage to value add for cash flow if the city allows. 

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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Nov 24 2023, 12:21
Quote from @Troy Nowak:

Are we talking about buying properties that already have an ADU or buying St. Pete properties that have a 2 car garage in order to create an Affordable 1-1?

The city has made ADUs very easy to permit if it’s your primary but I don’t believe an investor would be able to add one with a separate meter. 

I would agree and much rather buy a single family with a two car garage to value add for cash flow if the city allows. 

Either way. I think both methods can work. Building will be 80k-200k depending on size and square footage. Much more affordable with an existing building like a garage.
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Replied Nov 24 2023, 12:25

Is it possible to legally build one as an investor and not an owner occupant though? 

The cities information seems like it’s only allowing ADUs to be added when it’s your primary property. 

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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Nov 27 2023, 07:08
Quote from @Troy Nowak:

Is it possible to legally build one as an investor and not an owner occupant though? 

The cities information seems like it’s only allowing ADUs to be added when it’s your primary property. 


 you can do as both an investor and as an owner occupant, based on my knowledge

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Replied Nov 27 2023, 11:48

I verified with the city and investors can add them with meters on single-family homes as long as there are no deed restrictions. I 100% agree with this being better for cash flow and appreciation in neighborhoods with limited multi-family. The numbers look a little high for quotes on adding ADUs and I am working on finding a contractor that specializes in affordably converting two car garages. 

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Replied Nov 27 2023, 21:35

Those are some great points Calvin. I would just add that people should be cautious to only buy properties that have a legal, properly permitted ADU. In Tampa there are so many that are done without permits, and it can mislead a beginner into thinking they are getting a great deal when in reality it can be a big headache and money pit to legalize after the fact.

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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Nov 28 2023, 04:51
Quote from @Troy Nowak:

I verified with the city and investors can add them with meters on single-family homes as long as there are no deed restrictions. I 100% agree with this being better for cash flow and appreciation in neighborhoods with limited multi-family. The numbers look a little high for quotes on adding ADUs and I am working on finding a contractor that specializes in affordably converting two car garages. 

I'm also seeing a lot of folks converting a split floor plan into a MIL suite with separated entrances, and using one side to run as a rental. I think both plans can work, however the split floor plan idea would have to have a home with sizable sqft. As for finding a contractor, I would recommend looking on the "I Love St. Pete" Facebook group page. If you check in their search bar, there will be dozens of people that have already asked for recommendations on converting a garage into an additional unit. That's usually where I start, if I have a client that needs a point of recommendation, and I don't already have it. 





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Calvin Pringles
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Replied Nov 28 2023, 04:52
Quote from @John Karg:

Those are some great points Calvin. I would just add that people should be cautious to only buy properties that have a legal, properly permitted ADU. In Tampa there are so many that are done without permits, and it can mislead a beginner into thinking they are getting a great deal when in reality it can be a big headache and money pit to legalize after the fact.

You're absolutely right. What's funny about this is, half the time the appraiser doesn't even care. They will take an unpermitted, converted ADU and add it straight to the heated sqft, and bedroom/bathroom count when running numbers.
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