What is the best way or place to look for small to mid sized apartment complexes?
Is there a good way to find them off market, zoning office maybe?
If you want to go off market, you can do direct mail. Go to Listsource (or somewhere like it), buy a list, and mail consistently. If your letter is written well you'll get calls. There will be many tire kickers, but this is a tried and true strategy.
You can also get deals through brokers. Focus on building relationships with them. It's unlikely they'll have a deal that fits your criteria the first time you call them. That's fine, stay consistent and be mindful that brokers care about one thing about you above all else: your ability to close.
Marcus & Millichap
@Michael Hakes you could also try driving for dollars. Go for a drive around your target area and make notes of properties that show signs of neglect. Then you could choose to market to them however you like. You can send direct mail, Cold Call, send Text messages, leave RVM or you could even knock on their doors and start talking about a deal. If you decide to use lists I also recommend ListSource.
There are multiple ways to approach this objective. I hope this helps you select what's right for you.
1. Pick a market
2. Go to Loopnet and create a list of 20 brokers
3. Contact brokers, letting them know your investment criteria
4. Follow-up every two weeks with brokers, providing them with a piece of information that shows them your ability to close on a deal and asking if they have any new deal currently or on the horizon
All good strategies...Here is my take..
1. Brokers - I agree loopnet is great way to find them. Reaching out to them can be challenging - you may have to call several times before you get a call back. Depending on where your target market is I would guess that the on-market deals are overpriced. It will most likely take some time and building of rapport before brokers start sending you the off market deals. You will need to evaluate several of their on-market deals and explain to them why they don't meet your criteria, (returns too low, no value add component, building characteristics, neighborhood, etc.) The more you can prove to them you know what you're looking for and are serious about finding it the sooner they will start sending you deals.
2. Driving for dollars - Is a great strategy to locate properties but you then need to use either direct mail or cold calls to contact the seller. The key in both is follow up.
3. Direct Mail - Can be a good strategy but takes some time before you see results and some money. I haven't tried it myself but I've heard from others that it takes 8-10 touches before you get a response. Also I've heard success rates (deals closed on / properties mailed)varying anywhere from .5 - 3 %.
@Michael Hakes I use reonomy to locate apartments in my area of interest. The cost of the least expensive package is easily recouped in time saved.
Then it’s usually an easy task to find a number to cold call the owner or manager.
@Michael Hakes - Craigslist can work for that range, either sellers offering properties for sale, or a way to reach owner/operators directly. I also check residential MLS listings on a regular basis, occasionally they'll pop up there.