What is the difference between a duplex and a duet home?

Can you tell the difference between a duplex and a duet home? This is either a duplex or a duet - how will you know which it is?The difference between a duplex and a duet home is not obvious, and many people may think they are the same thing.  Duplexes and duet homes both involve two attached residential units.  But legally and financially, the difference between a duplex and a duet home is huge!

Below we’ll review:

  • Video explanation of the difference between a duplex and a duet home
  • What is a duplex
  • What is a duet home
  • How do you know if a property is one or the other
  • Can the type or classification be changed?

The photo to the right is of a San Jose home I sold a few years back.  You cannot tell from the image, but there is a front door off to the right of the single car garage door, and back around on the left side, near the double car garage door, there’s another front door. There are 2 units. It is a duplex or a duet home?  You cannot necessarily tell by looking!


Video explanation of the difference between a duplex and a duet home


What is a duplex?

A duplex is a multifamily home, in the same category as a triplex or fourplex, meaning there are multiple living units.  Most of the time, they are attached to each other, but not always. But what is truly distinctive is the way they are bought and sold.  With multifamily homes, such as a duplex, all of these dwellings are sold together. (The units are not sold separately.)

Selling A Tenant-Occupied Home in Silicon Valley

Awhile back, I showed a home for sale along the Los Gatos border with Cambrian Park (area of San Jose) to a buyer couple.  It’s tenant occupied, was pretty much a mess  (and on top of being in disarray was dark – curtains drawn, no lights on etc.) and the person who lived there walked us through the property, telling us things about the owners and the situation that really didn’t make my buyers want to purchase the home at all.  Between the condition of the property and the info-packed narrative, my clients could not wait to leave.   No sale!

If you own income property (or rental property) in Silicon Valley and want to sell it, you may be aware that a 1031 tax deferred exchange is something to consider.  What you may not remember to do is to strategize about what to do with your tenants.  How do you get them to be cooperative, responsive to showing requests, permit an open house and keep the place neat? And preferably, to be absent or at least quiet and out of the way when the home is shown?  Or would it be better to wait until the lease is over, and then sell it?  There are pros and cons to each approach, but today we’ll talk about selling it with the tenants still in place.

When residential real estate is for sale, the occupants’ lives are turned upside down.  It’s no small amount of inconvenience and risk to them with the traffic in and out, the calls at all hours, the loss of privacy and on top of everything else, the risk of personal property being stolen.  If you are a homeowner, you are motivated because you will get cash out of the deal at close of escrow.  If you are a renter and the home you’re renting or leasing suddenly goes on the market, there’s not really a “silver lining” built into the scenario most of the time.  That can set the stage for trouble and even financial loss.