The Smartest, Most Easily Achievable Way to Get Into Multifamily Investing

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Many real estate entrepreneurs who want to get into multifamily investing are frustrated by how long it can take to do their first deal. It takes a while to educate yourself, learn how to analyze deals, and to raise money. You have to be consistent with contacting brokers and generating deal flow. And you have to make as many offers as possible.

I DO think that you should do the biggest deal you can for multiple different reasons (see “5 Reasons Why Bigger is Better with Apartment Building Investing“).

Admittedly, it can take some time to do your first 20-unit apartment building deal. But then again, you’re working towards a 3-5 year retirement plan by investing in apartment buildings, and so what if it takes a little longer than expected?

Despite the vision, most people have trouble achieving long-term goals. They want success NOW, and if they don’t get it, they give up. So if you’re one of these people, and you’re dying to do your first apartment building deal in the NEXT 90 days — then listen up! This strategy is for you.


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So, How Do You Do Your First Apartment Deal in the Next 90 Days?

The answer: Buy a duplex.

Why a duplex? Buying a duplex short-cuts the process of getting into multifamily (MF) investing for several reasons:

Reason #1: There’s more of them and they’re easier to find.

There are many more duplexes and quads than larger MF properties. You don’t need to build relationships with commercial real estate brokers so they take you seriously. Just go to or call your local real estate agent, and you’ll have dozens of duplexes to choose from.

Related: How to NOT Sound Like a Multifamily Newbie (& Actually Land Deals!)

Reason #2: You need less money.

In many parts of the country, you can buy a duplex for the price of a single family house (SFH). According to, the median home price in the United States is $188,900. If you assume you need 20% down, you only need about $38k of cash to close — a lot more doable than requiring $200k for a million dollar apartment building.


Reason #3: They’re easier to analyze.

Analyzing a duplex is like buying a SFH rental: You calculate the cash flow and potentially the after repaired value if you’re renovating, and you make sure you make the cash on cash return you’re looking for. With duplexes, you don’t have all of the expenses you have with MF properties — you really only have property taxes, insurance, repairs, and the mortgage.

Reason #4: You don’t need to build a huge team.

To get into the MF business, you’ll need to build a trusted team of property managers, attorneys, brokers, and lenders. To do your first duplex deal, you don’t need to spend weeks building a team. You’ll probably self-manage the duplex, and your local real estate agent will help you take care of the closing and will refer you to their local lender to get the financing. Easy peasy.


Reason #5: Cash flow per unit tends to be better than for larger MF properties.

It turns out that SFH rentals actually make more money per unit than larger multis. While finding MF deals with a cash on cash return of 10% or higher might be challenging, it’s considerably easier with SFH or duplexes.

Related: The #1 Thing Newbies Should Do to Get Started With Multifamily Investing

In short, finding a duplex is easier, faster, cheaper, and more profitable PER UNIT than a larger MF deal. As a result, it’s not unreasonable to buy your first duplex in the first 90 days when a larger MF might take longer.

Don’t let your vision stop you from achieving your goals. Set achievable, 90-day goals that will get you closer to your vision. Buying a duplex could be that perfect, 90-day goal that will give you confidence and keep you going.

And if that’s what it takes for you to get into multifamily investing, then DO IT. Buy that duplex. Will you retire from it? No, but at least you’re in the game.

Have you bought or own a duplex? What was your experience like?

Share your story!

About Author

Michael Blank

Michael Blank is a leading authority on apartment building investing in the United States. He’s passionate about helping others become financially free in 3-5 years by investing in apartment building deals with a special focus on raising money. Through his investment company, he controls over $30MM in performing multifamily assets all over the United States and has raised over $8MM. In addition to his own investing activities, he’s helped students purchase over 2,000 units valued at over $87MM. He’s the author of the best-selling book Financial Freedom With Real Estate Investing and the host of the popular Apartment Building Investing podcast Apartment Building Investing podcast.


  1. Jack Knochel

    Hey Michael, great article. We already have 1 multi, its a live/work townhome and we rent the top to a residential tenant and the bottom to a salon. Its been a nice cash flowing property. But we just jumped into an apartment deal, we have it under contract and the DD is a lot more expensive, as well as rehabbing then a sfh or our live/work. Just with the inspection, appraisal, and survey, we’ll be in the DD for about $6000, and that’s with the inspectors giving us a great deal because we have used them before and also bidding out for the appraisal. Another thing we noticed, we need more DD to get everything done then a SFH, 30 days is not long enough, especially if you are under contract for a 10 unit that has been mismanaged and not maintained for years. GOOD TIME!

  2. Curt Smith

    Hi Jack, Good ideas. Combined with House Hacking and an FHA occupant loan definately a great idea.

    Here in the Atlanta area housing has been bid up too high. The asking for a duplex is nearly that of SFH x 1.5, so the cap rate math is terrible. Making a 10% cap rate offer won’t work. And worse the deferred CAPEX lower the rent and even lower the cap rate based offer so there’s no good sweet spot other than living in one unit and paying a higher price based on occupancy justifies the higher price.

    How do you get past the ask being 1.5x too high? Of course make 100 offers. But I’d like to hear your argument steps 1,2,3,4… with sellers? Tnx

  3. Nick B.

    Mike, with all due respect, duplex is not MF! It is valued as SFH (based on comps) and has no forced appreciation component. Also, there is no room for professional management at a reasonable price. A better beginner’s path to MF is investing into a syndicated deal as a passive investor.


    • Tim Puffer

      Nick – Why can’t you force appreciation on a duplex? If you buy at say $119,500 and similar duplexes that are more updated sell at $153,000, and you update your building for $15,000 and increase the value to around that $150,000 mark. I’d say that you forced that value up. Now, it isn’t the same as if you have a 5+ unit and increase the rents and drive the NOI up, but it is similar.

        • Jason Lewis

          Normally the appraisal of a 2 family has several different options to value the building. While the comps is the most widely used the income also matters. For instance, you buy a 2 family and do a rehab and raise the rent. You basically “flipped” the house and/or the income drives up the price. Also the rental income tells the appraiser what kind of comps to go get. So you can for appreciate it.

  4. David Krulac


    Liked your article. One thing you said stood out to me, “It turns out that SFH rentals actually make more money per unit than larger multis.”

    The net per door is much higher with SFH. And the exit buyer even if you buy and hold, is almost always an owner occupant.

    David Krulac

  5. Mike Dymski

    Great article. IMO, the largest challenge with MF under 50 units is PM. In many markets, the PM industry is not set up for this business model and there is a PM void in the 10-50 unit space. Many of the MF PMs start at 50-100 units and up and the SFR PMs don’t use MF vendors and supply companies. This is a bigger deal than most would expect…the cost, speed, staying power and sophistication of the MF vendors (i.e. systems) is night and day from using subcontractors. The MF PMs also have services not offered by SFR PMs…underwriting help, market analysis, due diligence, capital needs analysis and better accounting.

  6. Jerome Kaidor

    We sort of did this. In 1996, my wife wanted a tax writeoff. So she dragged me, kicking & screaming, into buying a fourplex in San Mateo, CA for $350K. By 2001, that fourplex was standing tall, so we refinanced it
    and bought an 8-unit building in Hayward. Then in 2003, we refinanced the fouplex ( again ) and our HOUSE,
    and bought a 52-unit complex in Fresno. Then in 2006, we sold the fouplex and bought a 20-unit complex in Stockton ( mistake! ). Then last year we sold the 20 units in Stockton and bought a 13-unit building in Tracy.

    So now we have 73 units. It’s a decent living, and I haven’t worked a W2 job in 13 years.

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