Looking for a Duplex - Where are they in Atlanta?!

41 Replies | Atlanta, Georgia

Hello everyone!

I'm looking for a good house hacking property somewhere within ~30 minutes ish to Midtown Atlanta. Duplex searches on zillow come up with many homes which are just 2 floor SFR town homes so finding properties has been difficult! I've got in contact with a real estate agent and a lender. Seems like my budget is somewhere around or a bit above $300k and my agent found a couple properties in west Atlanta but most are a bit run down. Most of the ones we've found are built in 1920 - 1940s and look like they'll need a good amount of repairs. I'm wondering if I'm going about this in the appropriate manner and wanted to seek some advice. Maybe I should start looking for Duplex properties that are up for rent and see if the owner is looking to sell? But I'm not entirely sure where duplex properties are in Atlanta though. Any ideas?

Hey @Marcus Maloney , we're seeing solid yields with duplexes/triplexes/quads in Atlanta for our investors so I think you're on the right track. Be prepared with some cash reserves after purchasing if you buy in the 1920-40 range. Good luck!

There are some duplex “neighborhoods” in different areas and you need to ask your agent to have a longer conversation with your agent if you really want to find something. If you just started looking in the past 12 months, to be frank, you are late to the party. That doesnt mean there is no hope. When you speak again with your agent(s) ask them to help find where these pockets are that might be random duplexes, triplexes, quads or actual neighborhoods. Many are just outside the perimeter or close to it. Look at sold properties to find them and send mail to all their neighborhoods. Many owners don’t want to sell right now because times are good, but with persistence you can find that diamond in the rough. You definitely should call the ones listed for rent and ask if they want to sell. My opinion is go triplex or quad. Last idea, get in your car and start driving for dollars. Go find stuff with your eyeballs in the areas you like most by hunting in your car.

What @Rick Baggenstoss wrote. 

But make sure that you don't rely on tax assessor's office as to zoning classification. Some intown areas used to be R5 and were changed to R4B, but still show as R5 in tax website. 

County is not the deciding entitity, but city of atlanta is. 

Huge thanks to everyone replying to this thread!  I'm most definitely going to be acting upon each of your bits of advice as they're invaluable.

@Matt Wood :  Will do!   Solid cash reserves will definitely be a must for me to keep my sanity with an asset that old.

@Ethan Atkinson :  Unfortunately I just started looking in the past 2 weeks!  Thankfully I am in no particular rush to find a place so if I've got to keep looking for the next few years I gladly will.  Two questions.  What was the party that happened 12 months ago?  Any particular reason you suggest triplex or quad?  I was thinking duplex solely so that I could very easily afford to pay the mortgage alone if I had any extended period of vacancies.  This will be my first property so I'm a bit risk averse.

@Mike H. Jones : Got it! Thank you for the actionable location.  I think I'm going to drive by around there just after work today!

@Rick Baggenstoss and @Michaela G. :  Oh!  That's a great idea!  Seems obvious now but I didn't think about searching through Atlanta based upon the zoning classifications.  Nor did I think about how zoning affects my ability to legally remodel into a Duplex.  Thank you!

Originally posted by @Marcus Quettan :

Huge thanks to everyone replying to this thread!  I'm most definitely going to be acting upon each of your bits of advice as they're invaluable.

@Matt Wood :  Will do!   Solid cash reserves will definitely be a must for me to keep my sanity with an asset that old.

@Ethan Atkinson :  Unfortunately I just started looking in the past 2 weeks!  Thankfully I am in no particular rush to find a place so if I've got to keep looking for the next few years I gladly will.  Two questions.  What was the party that happened 12 months ago?  Any particular reason you suggest triplex or quad?  I was thinking duplex solely so that I could very easily afford to pay the mortgage alone if I had any extended period of vacancies.  This will be my first property so I'm a bit risk averse.

@Mike H. Jones: Got it! Thank you for the actionable location.  I think I'm going to drive by around there just after work today!

@Rick Baggenstoss and @Michaela G. :  Oh!  That's a great idea!  Seems obvious now but I didn't think about searching through Atlanta based upon the zoning classifications.  Nor did I think about how zoning affects my ability to legally remodel into a Duplex.  Thank you!

No problem. Most are the worthwhile duplexes (2 story, brick, 2000+ sq ft, 6BD 4BA) are along Donald Lee Hollowell and in pockets (so you'll have to drive down streets you may otherwise overlook). On one hand, the location/surrounding area may not be desirable atm, while on the other hand, with the development of the Westside Reservoir Park (walking distance) and overall development in Atlanta, these homes can be worth $500k+ within a few years, and that's not even mentioning the rents.

Happy hunting!

Two things I’ve noticed while searching existing property on the web. First, duplexes are often mislabeled and second, they sell quickly!  As the others have mentioned, I have seen some decent brick ones in the East Point/College Park area. Keep searching!

Hi Kathleen, I’m  currently in the same position. Instead, I’ve moved on to Athens. A little further away but you could get 2-4 Bedroom duplex’s ( 8 doors) for 300k. The market is more consistent and greater number of rentals. I’ll keep my midtown options open but the good ones seam to be occupied or top dollar. 

Since you are able to go thirty minutes outside of the city, there are quite a few in the South Cobb Smyrna/Vinings area.

@Eric Feng Yea I've drove around a small amount and I agree with you that the area does feel a bit rough to live in.  However, almost every area that I've seen where a duplex is available is either in the ~$500,000+ range or is in a rough area.  The pickings are VERY slim.  I've gotten on my agent's auto-mail list so if a property ever swings my way I can pounce on it but it's looking like a no-go so far.  Luckily, I'm in no rush.

Great thread! I've just recently moved to the Atlanta area from the mid-west (aka duplex heaven haha) so the gems dropped in these responses is just the boost I need to learn more about the new city! 

I have seen a lot of SFH conversions zoned R5 in south Atlanta - I have been keeping an eye out for properties with the telltale signs of a conversion - matching windows but offset entry, space for two driveways, etc. I own one in the "double shotgun" style that I am currently renovating. Great advice already in this thread but it bears repeating, don't be put off by the depressed appearing areas on the south and west loop of the beltline. Development in those areas is strong. @Michaela G. 's posts about the Pittsburgh area over the last few years will be an amazing resource for you if you're looking to invest there.  

If your going to be proactive I would suggest driving down Ralph David Abernathy,  Joseph E. Lowry, even some parts of Metropolitan Pkwy and Cascade Rd(about to blow up). I also realize that you would prefer a newer house. My suggestion is depending on how you plan on financing/leveraging the asset, I feel these older homes(especially all bricks) are diamonds in the ruff and once renovated can easily double or triple the original purchase price.  Hope that helps , and good luck!

PS: if your going to spend 300k you may as well go for triplex or quad- not too much a diff in mortgage, just the possible upfront costs of separate water meters, etc... but there are plenty around the city in the mid 200's

Not only are R-5 properties zoned for duplexes they are also zoned for accessory dwelling units which means if you find a place with a large enough lot you cant turn a single family home to a duplex AND build another house up to 750sq ft on the same lot. thats Three Units on the same lot! We just finished converting our single family home to a duplex. It only cost 30k and now the unit is renting out for 1200. This, I belive is a very under utilized strategy 

Originally posted by @Mary B. :

@Caleb Edwards Wow, I thought that the maximum number of dwelling units on an R-5 lot was two, can you post a link?

 That used to be the case but when the city of Atlanta passed the tiny house legislation it opened up many new possibilities. The "tiny houses" can be 750sq ft which is enough for a 2 bedroom place. $$

@Caleb Edwards here’s what I see: 12) Accessory dwelling units, where the total number of dwelling units on any parcel, including the accessory dwelling unit, does not exceed two.

http://atlantacityga.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=1692&MediaPosition=&ID=10667&CssClass=

I have an R5 property too so I looked it up not that long ago. I think it’s a great idea to maximize your return but I don’t know if it is *technically* permissible. I’ve got a full apartment in my house though, kitchen and all, and I’m def not zoned r5 😂. If you pulled permits on the job though, you’re probably in good standing and I’m probably wrong. I’m just trying to get clarification since it’s not what I previously understood to be true

As I understand it, you are allowed to have a total of 2 units on an R5 property. So, if you at this time have a single family house, you're allowed to add another unit or dwelling. But if you already have a total of 2 units, I don't think you can add an ADU

R 5 is zoned for two family housing, however as long as the two principal properties are connected by a shared wall, for the purpose of an accesory dwelling unit they are counted as one unit. A duplex js allowed to have an accesroy dwelling unit.