I've been working with a real estate agent to browse the MLS and get notified of new 3/4plex listings, but the inventory (in general, not just MF) is the lowest it has been in a long time according to him. I realize that the MLS can be a great strategy when there is tons of inventory and a buyers market, but I know that I need to change up my approach if I am going to find anything around my area soon.
My girlfriend and I are looking for a 3 or 4 plex, but I'm not sure where I would start if I wanted to start a direct mail campaign to find my own leads off the market. What makes it harder is that the Washington County (Oregon) website doesn't let you view the owners information, they make you go down there and look it up in person. I'm not saying that I won't do the work, but I also don't want to reinvent the wheel. We would like to use an FHA loan for this one, so I'm trying to find something that won't make my commute to work a nightmare, which is why we are limiting our search to a certain area right now.
Try the local assessors office. Talk with them. Here is what I did. In my town, two-four families have a specific code. 5-9 families have a specific code, and 10+ units have a specific code in their computer system. They printed me a report of every property in the city that fell into these three codes. In my case, I knew the assessor and he did not charge me a fee though he said normally he would charge $25. He was able to email me the list as a spreadsheet and I then had to do some legwork create labels, do the mailing, etc...
I now have a list of every multi-family property owner in my city. I've gotten several leads from it and I do fairly regular mailings to them with info on recent sales, comps, etc...so they can see how the market is in case they want to sell. I'm a RE agent so I also market to new owners that may want to buy more properties.
Good luck with your project...and I agree that the MLS is very limited in what it has to offer. It seems that way everywhere.
You can also try purchasing a list. There are sites you can search by property type and by area that will have owner information. You could find those owners in your area and market to them to find a deal.
You can buy lists of multi family properties from listsource. They have decent customer support as well so you can call them up and ask them how to pull lists of the types of properties you're interested in.
Find a local REIA and tell people you are looking.
I did last week and was walking through 25 unit block of properties within 2 days. Made an offer today we'll see what happens.
The other thing you can do is tell everyone you know and most people you meet that you are an investor looking for a property.
Good luck in your search
I second listsource. I searched for 2-4 unit properties last sold 10+ years ago and under $200k. I then used yellowletters and sent letters to 300 or so owners. It worked well in my market. I actually bought an investment property from an owner looking to wind down his investing career (he was 65). He offered to sell me more of the properties he currently owns.
Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community
Basic membership is free, forever.