Duplex/Triplex House Hack in St Pete

7 Replies | St. Petersburg, Florida

Hey Everyone,

  After years of lurking on here my wife and I are out to buy our first property. We want to house hack a duplex or triplex

in St Pete. Live in one unit and rent out the other while fixing it up, then buy another and do it all over again. Kind BRRR I guess.

We'd like to find something that needs cometic fixes and nothing insane. 

We'd be using a FHA with my parents co-signing to do it and then we'd refi it it a few years. What areas are good to look in? I've only lived in St. Pete for about a year so I'm not extremely familiar. I know avoid the south side and that old Northeast and Kentwood are good.

But, I know those areas have become very expensive and we are probably going to be in the 200-250k purchase price range. 

Also, is this a good strategy? What are the best tools for evaluating a deal?


Hello Justin. That's a good strategy for sure, but a dulpex or triplex in Old NE that does not need major work will be $400k - $800k range. The Gateway area is nice and "do-able" for your price range. I've lived here since 73 and was a police officer for 15 years so I know the good from the bad areas for sure. I don't want to bore everyone by breaking do each area of St Pete and/or Pinellas County, so message me if there's a neighborhood you want to know about.

Hey, Justin I just moved here from Washington, DC. I doing the same thing looking for Triplex or 4-Unit apartment building to hack. St. Pete reminds me of Washington, DC 15 years ago with the way the city is building and changing. Don't be scared of the hood, that's where you are going to get more bang for your buck and you will be surprised in what you can find and get. I have been on the ground 2 months wholesaling and construction management. Lets talk I'm sure we can share information.

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If the goal is to find one where you guys can live for free, then you might struggle. If you're willing to put some sweat equity into it, then you will have an easier time. In general, 2-4 unit inventory is low (especially outside of the worst parts of St Pete) and competition is high.

Example: I bought a 2-unit in a good part of St Pete about a year-and-a-half ago. Just to get an idea on the competition, I got it 1st day on the market, had to go $2000 over asking price, and paid in cash. I've also had to put something like $33k in maintenance into the house over the last year just to make it livable. One unit rents for $1300 and the other for $850 (minus me paying utilities).

Realistically, 2 people couldn't live in my back unit (it's a small 400 SF detached studio) so if this were you and your wife, then you'd certainly have to occupy the $1300 unit. The $850 from the back unit would more or less offset your mortgage. So you'd still be out of pocket on all other expenses, utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc. (not to mention mortgage insurance if you are using FHA). Still a better deal than buying a SFH and not collecting the $850, but a nonstarter if your goal was to live for free.

Hey Justin-The biggest problem that I seem to be running into, in the St. Pete area is the cost of flood insurance eating away at the profits. That might also be something to take into consideration. I like Marshall's thoughts on expanding outside of St. Pete into Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Seminole, Largo, etc. Feel free to link up, I'm also in the search currently in Pinellas County. 

One of the things I'd tell you to look for are "value-add" properties.  Ones that have less desirable tenants and lower than market rents in areas with strong demand, maybe on the fringe of B to C neighborhoods.  That way you can upgrade the property, and put market rate tenants in, adding value and forcing appreciation.

If you're thinking of a rehab loan (like an FHA 203k), there are conventional rehab loans, as well. I haven't done one yet. A lot of my lenders are telling me that they are easier to qualify and get through the process. It's worth a look!