How to Analyze & Purchase a Multi-Family Complex


I am working with more and more investors lately, and it seems that they are all interested in a very hot item right now: multi-family complexes.

If you ask any seasoned real state investor, they will tell you that they would rather own a complex of 4 units, rather than 4 single family homes. It makes logical sense, due to the fact it is easier to manage, you have 1/4th the maintenance, and you have one location.

I’ve worked with investors who buy multi-family properties and have great innovative strategies, such as maximizing by renting “per room”, instead of renting “per unit”. This works best in areas where students are living near by, and want to rent rooms on a “per room” basis.

Below is the break down I use to analyze a multi-family deal:

I’m not going to go over cost estimation, appraisal value, after repair value, or LTV value. I have gone over this in previous post. This information is calculated by due diligence, and finding out what repairs the place needs. You also need comparable sales / appraisals for the true value of the complex.

Take note of the cap rate. The cap rate is a tool many investors uses to look at what percent they capture the first year on the deal. Some investors will take cap rates of 6.45% – others want high cap rates, of 20%+.

You can calculate the cap rate by dividing the net operating income by the sales price. So in my case, 14,724 / 215,000 = 0.0685, or 6.85%.

Maximize your cap rate by finding cheap properties that need repairs, and get the repair work done at a good cost. You can also adjsut your cap rate by increasing rent. Just think the higher cap rate, the higher your first year return.

Look at my buying cost column on the bottom left hand side of the deal. Some of those are fixed costs, and some are variable cost. As you might know, fixed cost stay the same, variable cost are based on variables in the deal. Majority of the variable costs you’ll run into are based off your loan amount / purchase price. These are your out-of-pocket expenses, around $9,000-10,000.

On the top right hand column, you see the “Rent Roll”, which is where you will find what each unit is renting for. So each 3 bed, 2 bath apartment is renting for $900 total, or $300 per room. So that’s $3,600 a month gross rent, or $43,200 annual gross monthly rent.

Below that is your expenses, broken down in both annual and monthly expenses. You subtract those from your gross rent, and you have your monthly / annual cash flow.

I like to divide my monthly cash flow by my out-of-pocket expenses, which will give me a break even point in months. So after 7.95 months (lets call it 8), I will break even on my investment. That’s not too shabby…

How about we look at this deal now, on what that “creative” savvy investor did, renting each room for $500..

You will notice some numbers stayed the same (fixed costs), and some changed (variable costs). Your monthly note stays the same. Your taxes stay the same. Your property management fees increase (budget 10% of monthly rent for property management fees – even if you’re managing yourself, you can write it off).

Most importantly, you might notice that he increased his cash flow to $2,955 per month, from an original $1,227 per month – that’s a gain of $1,728 per month, or $20,736 per year!

He broke even on his initial investment in 3 1/2 months with a cap rate of 16.49%.

Obviously, more tenants will result in more stress, more occupancy, and more maintenance.  You will need to adjust your numbers accordingly.

Multi-family investing is a tried and true way to gain passive income from the real estate market. I am a firm believer that having control over your money, and investing right, will lead you further than any stock market, mutual fund, or index fund.

With a little knowledge, and the right real estate agent, you can go far in real estate investing.

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About redannyday
Danny Day is a local Houstonian who has worked in many different areas of real estate. He blogs about real estate investing, trends, and data that relate to micro and macro markets in the United States, and Houston.

2 Responses to How to Analyze & Purchase a Multi-Family Complex

  1. Jill Bond says:

    Great Blog! I am in commercial real estate, as you may know, and I think you have a great job informing homeowners and buyers about what is going on in the market. Keep up the good work!

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