Making a single family into a multi-family??

9 Replies

So im looking in the DMV and Baltimore area for multifamily properties. I noticed that they aren’t as common in this area (Baltimore and DMV investors please let me know if im wrong) How difficult is it to turn large single family into a multi family ? Looking to house hack and live in one unit.

Originally posted by @Ozzy Sirimsi :

In Baltimore, it is not that easy. You have to have parking and go through the city council, community has to be okay with it etc..

Yes I can second this. Multifamily investments are not extremely common. I have one friend who turned a townhome into a duplex but it took a ton of back and forth with the city - a risk a lot of investors try to avoid.  

@Robert Nelson , another thing to think about is the value you could be creating or losing.  I cannot speak to Baltimore, but in Cincinnati, single families sell at a premium to multifamily properties.  If this is true in Baltimore area as well, you would be spending money to have a property worth less than it started at.  

From a pure return on investment, if it costs you $100k to convert (this is probably light), and you can get $1,000/mo, you are only making a 12% return on investment.  Not bad, but not great.  And again, this does not account for any changes in value to property as a whole.

@Robert Nelson

I agree with everyone that it's a long process.  I've been working on my conversion for over 6 months now.  Most of the properties in Baltimore city are in the R8 zoning district.  The land requirement for that zone is 750sq ft of space per dwelling. (ex. 1500sq feet for two dwelling unit)  Most properties in the city do not have that much land and in order to increase the residential density from 1 to 2 units, you would need conditional use approval via a City Council ordinance. This potential ordinance would also have to include several zoning variances, including lot area (density) and off-street parking. However, usually your council representative for that district won't even consider it unless you get approval from the local community.  

If you are looking to house hack in Baltimore city you could look for a home with a separate basement entrance and rent up the upstairs without converting it to a multi family.  There are few caveats like not being able to separate your gas/electric bill (only one meter allowed), or "technically" you shouldn't have 2 kitchen stoves as this requires a two dwelling unit.... 

If you are interested in looking at zoning here are some resources:

Good luck