3 Questions to Ask When Vetting a Multifamily Investment Property

3 Questions to Ask When Vetting a Multifamily Investment Property

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

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What should you look for when vetting a property?

It’s very simple, but there are tons of moving parts. To add to the pressure, messing up this step could be a make or break for most people.

I recommend going through a checklist of items. In the video below, I’ll walk you through a property and show you what’s on my list of things to check.

How to Vet a Multifamily Property

1. Where can you add value?

The first step is looking at the value that you can bring, whether that is pushing down the expenses or increasing the revenue. You can do that by bumping up rent at a multifamily property, offering laundry services, billing back the tenants for utilities, or even charging pet fees.

Related: 5 Affordable Ways to Add Value to Your Rental Property

2. How much will renovations cost?

The second thing is determining what your renovation costs are. Yes, you need to determine this because that’s going to translate to you once you purchase the property. So for my company, when looking at this, we looked at the big-ticket items.

For one, we considered the AC units. When looking at this property in the video, the units are actually older than I am! To deal with this, we underwrote the deal knowing that we’re going to replace those AC units once we take over the property. The majority of them are not necessarily down, but they’re on their last leg.

Something that came up in the inspections was that they’re not a safety hazard at this point, but they need to be more properly secured. So there was a significant amount of cost that was associated with that.

And then also the roofs. That is a huge item! So on this property, it was lucky that they have a longer duration of time and that they were recently replaced. So that’s not a huge issue. But if you have one property that you’re purchasing where it’s been patched multiple times, there may be a blue tarp, then you should factor in that you’re going to replace that once you take it under ownership.


3. Do the numbers make sense?

Walking through this property, I noticed some other things that you can look for when you’re doing the underwriting on a deal and vetting a property. For instance, right now we’re getting through the construction on this property. When this was bought, it was 60 percent occupied. Since then, we’ve been able to push it a little over 70 percent.

That was due to the fact there were tenants who were moving out once we took over possession. We’ve been changing others to the upgraded units if they qualify. So right now, the demand is there for the units.

One thing that we also noticed was the mechanical, so that’s one thing you also want to take into consideration. Quite a bit of them had older furnaces. That’s a huge expense—about $1,500 to $2,000, depending on who the contractor or the vendor is.

Related: Single Family, 2-4 Unit Multifamily, or 5+ Unit Multifamily? Explore the Benefits of Each Here!

Then the last thing is determining what your return on investment is going to be. If you figure out your revenue that you’re pushing your property up to and then factor in the expenses, you can calculate that back into your purchase price. And then that’s where you can move forward with submitting an LOI, a contract, and then if the seller or the owner is not interested, then you just gotta stick to your numbers and step away.

I would say, from personal experience, falling in love with the property can be dangerous. Because that’s what most people run into. They try and manipulate the numbers and say, “OK, well I can actually push up the rents even more or push up the income even more to be able to get to pay a little bit more for the property.”

Please avoid that at all costs!

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What other items would you include on a checklist? 

I’d love to hear from you below in the comment section!