The Investor’s Step-by-Step Guide to Wholesaling Apartment Buildings
I’ve been asked several times in the past few weeks if it’s possible to wholesale buildings, and if so, how to do it.
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My first mentor was a wholesaler, and he taught me everything he knows. I’ve bought close to 80% of my house flips from wholesalers. I even bought my first apartment building from a wholesaler and have a 43-unit under contract that was brought to me by an investor who is wholesaling the deal to me.
So the answer is “yes, it is possible,” and in this article I’m going to outline how to do it. You will need to acquire the following 7 skills.
The Investor’s Guide to Wholesaling Apartment Buildings
Skill #1: Build Credibility So That You’re Taken Seriously
If you’re a newbie — and especially if you intend to wholesale properties — appearing credible is crucial if you want a seller to ratify a contract with you. If they don’t believe you’ll actually find a buyer and get a deal done, they’ll never sign a contract with you, regardless of how much you’re willing to pay!
Here are a couple of tips for appearing more credible to sellers:
- Learn the Lingo: Don’t speak or act like a newbie. Learn the lingo. Read books and articles, listen to podcasts, perhaps even attend a seminar. First impressions are everything; don’t ruin them by sounding like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
- Build a Team Around You: Build relationships with other commercial real estate professionals in the market you’re looking in. Identify your preferred real estate attorney, property manager, commercial real estate brokers, lenders and others. Have one or more advisors who are more experienced than you are; you can call these people “partners.” When you’re dealing with the seller or broker, tell them what kind of team you have around you, and it will increase your chances of being taken seriously enough to get properties under contract.
- Proof of Funds: This is not always necessary, but it helps. This is why developing the skill to raise money is so valuable, even as a wholesaler. But it’s a LOT easier to find a wealthy individual who is willing to give you a bank letter that can serve as a proof of funds for your hesitant sellers. It won’t cost them anything to do so, and there is no risk or obligation of doing so. At the end of the day, the seller wants to know that if they ratify a contract with you, there’s a darn good chance you’ll perform.
Skill #2: Create Deal Flow
In order to wholesale deals, you’ll need to create a pipeline of deals. The best way I know to do that is by building a network of commercial real estate brokers. To get a list of them in the area(s) you’re looking, go to LoopNet.com, search for the type of assets you’re interested in, and contact the broker. Ask to be put on their buyer’s list. Build rapport by sharing with them about you and finding out more about them. Perhaps meet them in person. Stay in touch. A handful of good commercial real estate brokers can feed you more deals than you’ll know what to do with.
If you’re focused on a specific geographic area, then consider direct mail directly to property owners. This works well for house flips, and it can also work for apartment buildings. If you’re already familiar with wholesaling houses, set up the same system: Be consistent with sending out letters, set up a 1-800 number or answering service that pre-qualifies the callers, and promptly call back anyone who has a deal that might work.
Skill #3: Analyze the Deals Quickly So That You Can Make Lots of Offers
Real estate investing and wholesaling is a numbers game: The more offers you make, the more deals you’ll do.
The challenge with apartment buildings is that the analysis takes so much time. The more time it takes, the fewer offers you’ll make, and the fewer deals you’ll get done.
It used to take me 4 hours; now, it takes me only 10 minutes to make my first offer. You’ll need a good deal analyzer that allows you to analyze deals quickly so that you can get back to the broker with an offer.
This is probably the #1 skill you’ll need for wholesaling.
Skill #4: Negotiate Deals That are Easy for the End-Buyer to Step into
When you negotiate deals and it’s time to get it under contract, think like a buyer would. This means you need to know how to underwrite deals and negotiate the right price and/or terms. You’ll need to know roughly what repairs will be necessary and how it would cost. You’ll need to make assumptions about what kind of financing terms will be available. You’ll have to be able to model financial projections and estimate returns.
Then you negotiate the right price and terms.
Make it easy for a buyer to step into the deal. For example, shoot for terms like these in your contracts:
- Negotiate as long a due diligence period as possible, and make sure the clock starts ticking only AFTER you receive all requested due diligence documents.
- Make sure the contract is assumable.
- Make sure you have a financing contingency in the contract.
- Negotiate 30-day contract extensions in addition for extra earnest money deposit.
Your buyer will thank you for terms like these.
Skill #5: Create GREAT Property Packages
Nothing frustrates me more as a buyer than an email like this:
15 UNITS $890K GREAT DEAL WILL GO FAST
If you REALLY want to wholesale apartment buildings (or ANYTHING for that matter), take the time to put together a professional-looking property package that provides all of the necessary information a buyer needs to be make an intelligent quickly.
In general, try your best to make it easy to do business with you.
Skill # 6: Build Your Buyer’s List from Day One
As a wholesaler, you rely on your ability to find deals and to have buyers who will buy your deals. That means from Day One, long before you even try to put your first deal under contract, you should start building your list of buyers.
There are many ways to do this, and many of the residential wholesaling techniques will also work for apartment buildings. Here are some:
- Create a list of apartment building owners from tax records or the MLS. Normally you can search by certain criteria (number of units, tax-assessed value, etc.) and then export the property and owner addresses into an Excel spreadsheet.
- Using this information, you can mail them letters or postcards. You can even use it to get the owner’s cell phone information and cold call them!
- Attend commercial real estate associations and events, and network with others.
- Network with property managers (who know other apartment building owners), as well as other professionals who work with apartment building owners (like attorneys, accountants, appraisers, etc.).
- Build a team of commercial real estate brokers. Obviously, they know potential buyers. If you work out their compensation, they will be a good source for buyers.
Skill #7: Learn Other Aspects of Buying Apartment Buildings
Here are some other aspects of apartment building investing you don’t necessarily need for wholesaling, but that would be worthwhile for you to know about:
- How to raise money
- Performing due diligence
- How to find lenders and finance the deal
- The closing process
- How to find, hire and manage the property manager
- Disposing of or refinancing the property
If you want to get properties under contract, you should be able to “talk the talk” and know about these aspects of apartment building investing, even if it’s only at an academic level.
Plus, there’s always the possibility you’ll want to graduate from wholesaling to building your own apartment building empire!
You will find that by far the most challenging part of this entire thing is finding a deal that works. Your ability to quickly analyze deals so that you can make many offers will be the biggest skill you can develop. It’s all about your ability to make offers quickly and to then negotiate deals that you know will work for an ultimate buyer. Of course, you’ll need a list of buyers, so always be working on expanding that.
Wholesaling just one apartment building deal could produce as much profit for you as a dozen houses, so it’s worth looking into.
Experienced apartment wholesalers: What would you add to my guide? For those without experience, what questions do you have about the process?
Leave your comments below!