Strong Blocks Rent to Own Milwaukee Program
So you've been curious about duplex ownership through a Milwaukee rent to own program, but not sure if you really want to be a landlord? Maybe you've got extended family that could use the additional space or have dreams of long-term passive income being earned through duplex ownership?  The following 3 tips every Duplex owner wishes they knew before moving towards ownership will help you prepare and decide if duplex ownership is right for you and your family 

1. The Duplex is a Starter Home

Sometimes we overthink what our first home needs to be.  We end up believing that it is the place we will live forever, will be the perfect home in every way, and that until we find that we wait.  This can be true, and we love to see this happen as it provides stability for your family, the block and entire neighborhood.  However, the duplex can also be seen an affordable way to save hundreds on your housing costs, and as a Starter Home. Or, as the first home you buy, which provides you with long-term options.

What are these options? At least the following,

  • Income generating property in the future if you move - earn money, pay down mortgage using the rent paid by your tenants
  • Extended family can move in and have their own space - are your parents getting older and may want to not only help with your kids but you help care for them down the road?
  • You can open certain types of businesses in one of the units - affordable space for your dream of opening a childcare center or office 
  • Occupy the entire duplex for twice the space - a duplex with two 2 bedroom/1 bathroom units, can be used as a single family with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms

With a single family home, you typically will pay much more per month (typically at least $100-200 more) and do not have the same income generating opportunities, or options, when you decide to move or upgrade down the road.

1945-47 N 24th St - Property Info Sheet

2. Property Management is Key

Some duplex buyers are completely ready, able and willing to take on the additional responsibilities of landlording that come with duplex ownership.  These responsibilities include screening of prospective tenants when you have a vacancy, and the collection of monthly rent.  Perhaps one of the most concerning parts of duplex ownership is having to evict someone or collect rent when someone isn't paying on time or having a life hardship where they can't pay.  

As a renter you don't get to choose your neighbor.  But as a duplex owner, you do.  The key here is your screening process.  Are you verifying payment habits with past landlords? Did you check credit to see about major debts owed to WE Energies that could threaten your ability to collect rent?  Did you stop by their current housing to see about pets, general housekeeping, etc.?  

This can seem like a lot of work and headache, but luckily for those in the Strong Blocks Rent to Own program, you have the option to doing this screening, collecting, and management yourself, OR using Strong Blocks Property Management Service to continue this work even after you take ownership...this work would include the following,

  • Credit and Criminal Background Checks
  • Landlord Verification
  • Home Visit to check for general housekeeping at prior residents and for pets
  • Collection of rent and reporting
  • Evictions as needed

With Strong Blocks rent to own program, each existing renter in a duplex unit is on a month to month lease so that changing neighbors after you take ownership is up to you.  The Strong Blocks "duplex idea" is that you can be a duplex owner without all the responsiblilities of the typical landlord experience just by hiring professionals and having a "turnkey" product from the beginning.  Even when these services cost money, you may want to take this option so that you can earn the rental income, and have a strong landlord process in place, without all the time required of being a traditional duplex landlord.  On the other hand, if you have no trouble just knocking on the door downstairs to collect your rent, DO IT!  We believe in you and each duplex owner has decide!

1917-19 N 24th St - Property Info Sheet

3. Save for Maintenance, Repairs, and Major Replacement

With Duplex ownership, you have to consider the costs to maintain not only your unit and experience at your home, but the entire home and that of your rental unit.  These costs and responsibilities include,

  • Maintenance and repairs - consider the call at 2AM to repair the broken toilet
  • Common area cleaning and maintenance - think common stairways, shared basements, etc.
  • Replacement of Major components of the house - roof, hot water heaters, furnaces, making a rental unit "ready" for a new resident, etc.

Even for those excited about learning these new skills, there are important things to consider.  If you are extremely handy and/or have a great network of local handymen and contractors, the repairs and maintenance could be straightforward, but it still will require time.  You are earning that extra rental income, it is not passive.  If you can't fix things you'll need to develop a team of people that you can call and that can affordably make repairs for you.  

Also, remember that the costs for these items do not come each month as a monthly payment.  You may go literraly 9-12 months without a major repair and then all of a sudden you need to replace a hot water heater for $1100.  If you aren't saving each month for these repairs and major replacement costs down the road, your "surprise" fix will sink your budget.

Luckily, with Strong Blocks' Milwaukee Rent to Own program, residents turned owners (especially for duplexes) can continue to utilize our Property Management service to get repairs done and to setup regularly scheduled maintenance on their home if that team is not already assembled by the new owner.  We also put together a detailed repair and major replacement budget for each family prior to entering the program so that you are saving the sufficient monthly amount that can take care of these costs as they come.  Perhaps most important, as a rent to own buyer, you'll have time to see how this is done at your home during the rent to own period.  You don't have the costs or responsibility during this time except for maintaing the yard and keeping common areas clean.  So you can see how much it costs, how the repairs are done and learn for your future time as owner.

With Strong Blocks, you can always make the final decision later as the owner on whether you want to do the repairs yourself, hire outside, or keep the Strong Blocks team in place to get these items done as they are needed.  Again with Duplex ownership, using Strong Blocks Rent to Own program, you have options! 

1970-72 W Melvina St - Property Info Sheet

Sick of your landlord, paying high rent, and looking to buy a duplex but can't quite qualify for a mortgage? Consider the Strong Blocks rent to own Milwaukee home ownership program. Create your customized Buying Plan that can help you to achieve home ownership in Milwaukee within 21 months. Click below to see a few of the opportunities available today,

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Ready to get started? Click below to answer the pre-qualification questions and begin your qualification process,

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Mary Leach-Sumlin, Any House Realty

Written by Mary Leach-Sumlin, Any House Realty

Mary Leach-Sumlin is the owner/Broker of Any House Realty, which she founded in 2017. Prior to launching her own real estate firm, Mary was a Realtor for ACTS Housing since 2007, and then the Managing Broker. She has an office located inside St. Martin de Porres Parish on 2nd and Burleigh. She holds the Accredited Buyer's Representative designation. She has helped more than 200 families achieve their homeownership dreams. You can email her at

Topics: Buying a Home, Rent to Own, Duplex

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