Commercial Real Estate

5 Reasons Single Family Investors Are Turning to Multifamily Apartments

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wooden model of multifamily property on gray background

Multifamily appears to be having a moment. More single family home investors appear to be graduating to the multifamily investment space

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Why is that? What’s drawing them to this niche? Let’s go over a few reasons that this is likely the case. 

5 Reasons Single Family Investors Are Turning to Multifamily Apartments

1. They work better with the changing U.S housing market.

High rents and the need for yields have created even more competition for single family homes. This has depleted inventory and hurt affordability. Demand from retail buyers, funds, and new real estate investors has increased competition, often inciting bidding wars. For some, this is creating better opportunities in the multifamily space than among residential homes.

white apartment building with colorful window trim blue sky in background manicured grass and walkway

Related: THIS Major Tax Benefit Convinced Me to Put My Money Into Large Multifamilies

2. They offer management efficiency.

There are many efficiencies of scale afforded to multifamily property investors. Management consolidated in one location, for more units, means lower management costs and fewer time demands. This can pay off in many ways, from maintaining occupancy to working more efficiently with contractors and improving maintenance. Every penny and labor hour saved in management means more directly added to the bottom line.

As single family investors experience these pain points and learn about the advantages of multifamily, they typically choose to step up to this asset class to scale their portfolios more efficiently.

3. They allow investors to save time.

It takes a lot less work and time to acquire a 46-unit apartment building than 46 single family homes—and I’m speaking from experience. Jumping into a multifamily deal may sound like a lot at first, but it is actually far faster and less time-intensive to acquire these properties. They require one set of paperwork, one set of loan docs, and one set of contractors. That leaves a lot more free time to be enjoyed or spent pursuing more deals.

aerial view of residential housing

4. They support a higher ROI.

Renovations and improvements are some of the most challenging parts of investing in real estate. Flipping houses can be fun and profitable. Still, it can be risky. In multifamily property investing, improvements to individual units or community space can actually lift the appeal and value of the asset, because you can generally demand higher rent. That elevates the ROI.

Multifamily investors can also more easily reposition and control the value of their own properties. These buildings can be positioned to appeal to affordable tenants, affluent tech workers, and others.

Related: The 4 Phases of a Real Estate Cycle (& When to Buy a Multifamily for Maximum Profitability)

5. They give more direct control.

The value is not as reliant on comps as it is on your ability to increase the value through increasing the NOI. For single family homes, the value of your property is directly tied to surrounding comparables. In contrast, multifamilies allow for the investor to have even more control over the property value.

Summary

The market is changing. Many single family home investors are now graduating to multifamily properties. For some, it is out of necessity to maintain the yields and deal flow they enjoyed over the past few years. For others, it is to upgrade now that they have amassed more capital to deploy in the market. Some may be using multifamily as a way to get ahead of the curve and build more sustainability into their portfolios.

Are you switching from single family homes to multifamily properties? Why or why not?

Be sure to leave a comment below!

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.

    David Roberts from Brownstown, Michigan
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    All the reasons you cited have always been the case though. I would venture tio guess more real estate investors have more cash than ever coming off the crash and are able to move to apartments easier.
    Jeremy Williams Investor from Novato, California
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    my question is how does an individual fund the multi-unit property? With single family you can apply and acquire loans through traditional means of income, debt and assets. How do you go after and score a single loan for a multi-unit property that here in the Bay Area may cost 2.5-3 mil. with less than 10% down? With rents that are high you will easily cover your loan and expenses. Do banks look at the income potential and if some or all units are already rented at market rates do they count those dollars as income toward the loan?
    Greg Watkins
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi Jeremy – unless a very high-net worth individual a single person doesn’t transact a large multifamily acquisition. It is usually syndicated, or money is pooled from private investors to provide for down payment, improvements, closing costs, etc… with traditional bank financing as a 1st position. The investors in return get a large equity portion of the purchasing entity (e.g. LLC) because without their capital the deal wouldn’t be possible. There is no set standard; everything can be negotiated with the investors. And as long as you disclose it then you *should* be protected. Having securities attorneys and proper documentation is critical as well, to protect both yourself and your investors. The Bank will assess the property more than you. But they will require a guarantor with balance sheet equal to the loan amount, even if non-recourse loan.