You’re interested in real estate investing because you seek passive income and long-term wealth. And perhaps you’ve considered investing in multifamily properties but you haven’t pursued it because you didn’t know how to get started.
In this article, I want to show you the blueprint to getting to your first apartment building deal. I believe that once you see the roadmap to your first deal, you will begin to believe that you, too, can do it.
How to Land Your First Apartment Building Deal
Step #1: Don’t sound like a newbie.
You have to use the right language when you speak to other professionals. You only have one chance to make a first impression. So if you call a broker and sound like a newbie, it will be difficult for you to convince him otherwise later.
This means you’ll have to educate yourself. Read everything you can on BiggerPockets. Check out all of the free resources, like the forums, podcasts, and blog. Read books. Eventually, it might mean that you invest in your education by purchasing a course or attending a seminar.
Either way, do your homework first. Learn the lingo, use the right words, and understand basic financial concepts.
Step #2: Get good at analyzing deals.
Real estate is a numbers game—the more offers you make, the more deals you do. Unfortunately, analyzing apartment building deals is more complex than analyzing a house flip or single family house rental.
I remember clearly when I got into apartment buildings back in 2007—it took me four hours to analyze a deal. Four hours! It took so long and was so overwhelming that I almost quit.
And then I discovered a better way. I call it “The 10-Minute Offer,” and it will allow you to make an offer on a deal you get from a broker within 10 minutes of getting the marketing package. It’s that powerful, and it will accelerate the progress you’ll make towards your first deal.
And once you get a counter offer, it’s time to sharpen your pencil. Now you need a financial model that lets you determine exactly how much you can offer, taking into account the income and expenses, your investors, and the terms of your mortgage. It’s got to be easy to use and accommodate investors, but it also needs to be able to model more complex situations, like value-add scenarios or a cash-out refinance.
For some recommendations on a multifamily deal analyzer spreadsheet, see this Bigger Pockets forum post.
Here’s a side effect of getting good at analyzing deals: Once you’ve analyzed about a dozen deals, you will find that your confidence level will sky rocket.
One of my students, Nick, told me that his potential investors always asked him about his experience, and he didn’t have a good answer for them. But after a few weeks of analyzing deals, he went to his local REIA meeting and spoke to three potential investors who never asked him how many units he already had. It never came up! Why? Because he was speaking so confidently that it never occurred to these investors to ask about his experience.
That’s the difference confidence makes, and you build confidence by getting good at analyzing deals.
Step #3: Create deal flow.
Once you can analyze deals quickly and accurately, it’s time to put as many deals through the pipeline as possible. You can do that in a variety of ways, but the No. 1 way is through brokers.
That’s because their job is it to find, network, and know apartment building owners. They send cards and letters, make phone calls, and try to meet with these owners. When an owner is ready to sell, they will likely call one of these brokers who has built a relationship with them over the years.
There are other techniques, like sending letters and cold-calling, but the No. 1 way is brokers.
Step #4: Learn the secret to raising money.
The chicken-and-egg problem with apartment building investing goes something like this: “I don’t have a deal under contract, so I can’t go out and talk to investors.” Or, “I have a deal under contract, and now I don’t have enough time to find investors so that I can close.”
This is a real problem that will stop you dead in your tracks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get financial commitments from people LONG BEFORE you ever get a deal under contract. Once you have the majority of the money committed, you can make offers with confidence, and you have a very high chance of being able to close.
I’ve written extensively on BiggerPockets about raising money—if this is of interest to you, see these related articles:
- The # 1 Secret to Raising Money to Invest in Apartment Buildings
- How to Find Investors To Fund Your Real Estate Deals
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Ace Your First Investor Meeting
- How to Structure Syndicated Investor Deals: What Investors Are Looking For
- How To Be Taken Seriously as an Up-and-Coming Real Estate Syndicator
- Syndicated Apartment Building Deal: A Case Study
Step #5: Avoid costly mistakes.
You’re going to make mistakes no matter what you do. You just want to take steps to avoid the kind where you lose your shirt. Here are some of the most common (but avoidable) mistakes newbies make with apartment building investing:
- Buying in the wrong area
- Not correctly analyzing a deal and overpaying
- Choosing a deal that doesn’t have enough cash flow
- Not having enough cash reserves
- Not starting the money-raising process soon enough
- Spending money too soon in the due diligence process
- Not knowing your lender’s underwriting requirements up front
The best way to avoid these mistakes is to educate yourself and to surround yourself with experienced investors and/or hire a coach.
Step #6: Consider partnering on or wholesaling your first deal.
Don’t think that you have to have all of the money raised to get into apartment building investing. Absolutely not. In fact, many new investors get started by referring or wholesaling a deal or by partnering with someone.
I had a student who brought me a deal in Columbus. He found it, analyzed it, and was getting close to a verbal agreement around a number that made sense. He then called me up, and we determined that the deal was in fact going to work. We agreed on a $45,000 referral fee payable at closing, and I would take over from there.
This would let him say that he did a deal AND got paid $45K. Experience + getting paid = very cool.
Listen, if you can find a deal, properly analyze it, and negotiate around a number that makes sense, THAT has value. That’s something you can get paid for.
Many newbie investors don’t pursue apartment building investing as a viable option to achieve financial independence because of these three limiting beliefs:
- “I don’t have the cash or credit.”
- “No one’s going to take me seriously without a track record.”
- “I don’t know how to get started and what to do next.”
I hope that this article dispels some of these limiting beliefs and gives you a map to help you visualize the road to doing your first apartment building deal.
Have you considered getting into multifamily investing? What’s holding you back?
Let’s chat in the comment section below!