Considering house hacking duplex in Richmond, CA bay area

12 Replies


I'm considering this school house converted to duplex (1910) as a house hacking project, which I live in one unit and AirBnB the other.

Do you think this is a "good" idea. For those who know the city, any gotchas? For example, is crime not bad?

My goal would be to recover mortgage cost and pay net about zero. It's 359K, and I would use an FHA load at 3.5% down.

Location 318 S 35th St, Richmond, CA.

Thanks very much


It is outside the iron triangle which I would definitely avoid especially for Airbnb but not that far from it.  I would walk the area at day and night. 

Check Airbnb to see if there are any similar listings in the area? Check airdna. I don't know a ton about airdna but I think they can help you see vacancy and price ranges in an area

Make sure you can still afford the place if short term rentals are banned and you have to do 30 day or longer rentals. 

I'm skeptical of AirBnB guest checking into your place cause it's far from any tourist attractions. You are better off with using the other half as a rental property 

Not a great idea, IMO. Richmond is probably the last place I'd suggest for an Airbnb. It's not very safe, not walkable, and not near anything out of towners would be visiting. Plus the city passed rent control laws not too long ago.

Thanks for info. Well sounds like the Richmond S 35th St property is not a good option for me then.

I'm looking at another option, Victorian Duplex, in Oakland. 5743 E 16th St. Lot size 5,400 sqft. This one also 17 mi to San Francisco. Do you all think that this one would be reasonable for house hacking, either AirBnB or renting?

Each unit has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Year build 1903.


I don't think that area would be very conducive to AirBnB but I still think it would be a great idea as a house hacking investment that you could eventually move out of and place two tenants in the duplex.

Hi Rob, so just to clarify, do you mean Richmond S 35th St property seems ok for a house hacking with normal renter. Or are you referring to the Oakland Victorian duplex?


@Rick Giuly There is a common conception that airbnb is only for tourists but a lot of people are doing very well with it as more of a corporate housing or business travel model. There are travelling nurses and doctors who are always looking for housing. With that said I would target properties in safe walkable area close or freeways or public transit. Search airbnb for what is available in areas you are considering purchasing. See how many reviews they have. Some people just posted stuff for the Superbowl then forgot about the listings.

Read some posts from @Al Williamson he is helping a lot of people get their airbnb's going and currently pushing a 30 day minimum model as a way to get a premium over long term unfurnished but not burn out from too much turnover

that's most likely a huge pain... it's been on market since august. It's also been taken off then back on and they don't seem motivated to deal by the lack of price drops. I'm willing to bet the owner is in it for cheap and doesn't actually care if it sells and it won't pass appraisal. 

Might be worth your time to check out more than the rich property

Hi Rick - I live in Richmond a little farther north and we were Airbnb hosts for a year. We got a lot of people who were happy to be close to BART or that were just staying a single night. We stopped since we had a family member move in but it was a good experience however it wasn't consistant. Also the city has recently gotten more strict on short term rentals so there are now license fees and taxes involved so I agree with John D and would go with a long term tenant if possible. Lastly Richmond is the last affordable spot in the bay area and people are starting to realize this. Add the fact that Richmond will be getting a ferry to San Francisco next year (making it a 25 minute commute) and there is potential for appreciation.

That oakland house is not in a good neighborhood. Stay away from international blvd.

@Rick Giuly ,

I did my first "house hack" in a 4plex in Richmond closer to the BART station, and still rent out 3 apartments on Airbnb there. Unlike @Rob Beardsley advice, (from Atherton, ahem ;) ), and @Kate R. , and I think Airbnb would work fine there - especially 30+ days as @Sean Walton   mentioned.  (No offense Rob - I've just found that people from Silicon Valley tend to never spend time in Richmond, but usually happy to share their opinion about why investing doesn't work there.. - would be happy to listen to your reasoning behind your statement, although I didn't see the support. Kate, what does the city's rent control laws have to do with Airbnb? If anything, this is more reason to keep the units churning. Not less reason for Airbnb.. ?  If you approach everything as a hammer, everything looks like a nail.. but there are other ways to do it.. 

 My basis for my advice is that I keep 3 apartments about 85% occupied on Airbnb about a mile from this location, on 30+ day rentals. And while I'm closer to BART, I found that most guests are bringing their own cars and driving..  Mine are 2br, 1ba apartments. Have been doing it for more than a year here. I also own a couple single family homes in the lower-numbered streets in Richmond in an area that is "worse" than where you're looking.

Regarding the area, I think there's less crime there than at my place closer to BART. It's not fantastic. But not bad. You'll have to spend some time on the individual street. Especially later at nights and on the weekend. get the real vibe. Ask the postal guy, corner store worker, and the beat cop also. It's also not too close (but not too far) from the train tracks. See what kind of noise there is. Not a dealbreaker IMHO, but something to consider in the trade-off. 

Also check the legal usage of the building. Looks like it was originally a schoolhouse, then converted to duplex. Have you been inside? Might be a little funky.. But the unfinished attic and basement spaces are a bonus. Maybe those can be converted to some usable space, or even another room or unit, depending on the configuration and time/money you have to put into it. If they're effectively 3br units, you should be able to get $2000-2700+ for 30+ day rentals. So that will make a nice dent on your mortgage payments.. 

I agree with @Jason Barnett that more and more people are discovering Richmond is one of the last affordable areas with a reasonable commute to SF. Currently 35min on BART. They're talking about the 25min ferry commute coming. Take this with a grain of salt. THere used to be a ferry running from Richmond, and it stopped because there wasn't enough service during the dot-com bust. I'm sure it will start in 2018 with all the new construction in Marina Bay. But I would expect the ferry service to stop or run into serious financial issues in the next recession in the succeeding years.. Just my 2 cents, based on history. Info

Not blessing it or cursing it, but just a couple pieces of info and things to check as you're pursuing it.. 
Best of luck Rick!

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