Acquiring information about potential duplex deals

15 Replies

Hi everyone,

I have set, what I believe, an achievable goal of acquiring two duplexes in the next 90 days. I have financing in place, flexibility in price, and more than enough desire to pull the trigger on a deal. I have begun my search on traditional real estate sites such as Zillow and Realtor, however I am not sure if I'm effectively using my time. I am about to contact local real estate agents and ask for assistance, however I'm not sure where they would look that I am not seeing, besides the MLS of course. With this being said, are most duplex/multi family deals found through these traditional sites? Or do you guys, the community, find your rental deals in other ways? And my next question would be, how accurate would you consider zillows tax and expense estimates.. Not sure if I should be using them. And if I wanted to acquire, for example, all the information required to use calculators to estimate monthly income, would I ask the listing agent for that information, or how is that information typically received?

Thanks everyone, and if anyone here is trying to sell a duplex or other rental property in NH , let me know :)

Hello Axel! 

I'm currently looking for my first multi family deal in southern NH as well. I personally would recommend reaching out to some agents/brokers for assistance. I've found that some of the online sites can be a little out dated with the not most accurate information. An agent could be a great took to your investing. I would also recommend going to some REI groups/meetups. I bet someone at those would have something to sell. Word of mouth is still a strong way to network.

Where are you looking to purchase?

Great questions Axel.  I'm looking forward to the answers from the community.

I'm not much further along than you in learning about these kinds of tools and mechanisms for finding property, but I'll share what I've been doing in case it's helpful. I've mostly been searching and other MLS sites as well. For listings without any useful information I've been using listed price, rent-o-meter rents (I'm conservative and use the low end values, and my conservative estimates for expenses, to run an initial analysis.

I've found that most multi-unit listings contain some data about income and expenses, but you might have to dig through the details to find it. When I find something that meets my criteria, I've been reaching out to the listing agent directly and requesting a copy of the MLS Fact Sheet. In theory this is the same information posted in the online listing, but I've found more often than not, the Fact Sheet contains additional important details. You might also get a "Multi-Unit Rider" as part of disclosures if you request those.

I've also been building relationships with some Agents who specialize in investments. They are far more familiar with investment property than a typical RE Agent, and so far they've all had their own investment portfolios on the side with other investors.  They're not an immediate resource for deals, but if you build a relationship with them and can bring some value to that relationship, there's a possibility of working with them on some deals in the future.

Cheers - James

Thank you @James Berry and @Sean Ebert .

To Sean - I'm focusing on essentially every market south of Concord, I figure that would be a good place to start looking. I've been having a hard time finding useful information on the sites.. I think I'll be taking your advice and contacting a few agents.

To James - I did not think of asking for a fact sheet.. I'll definitely do that from now on. I just took a look at rent-o-meter and for some reason many of the links on the website are down (odd), So forgive me if this is a stupid question: do you use the site to find expense estimates on your property as well, or just to compare rents?

 Thanks for your inputs! 

I would also check Craig's List (CL) on "real estate for sale".  At least in my area, that seems to be a "go to" place for owners selling without a realtor.  On the left, you can limit your search by all kinds of criteria...including "duplex".  Why "duplex" is the choice instead of the more accurate "multi-family", I don't know.  But checking the "duplex" box will actually bring up all multi-families, not just duplexes.

If you are also researching rental rates, CL is another good place to see live, current ads in the rental section.  I use rentometer also, more to just get a general idea of rental rates, but when I'm seriously interested in a property, I look at current ads.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

To James - I did not think of asking for a fact sheet.. I'll definitely do that from now on. I just took a look at rent-o-meter and for some reason many of the links on the website are down (odd), So forgive me if this is a stupid question: do you use the site to find expense estimates on your property as well, or just to compare rents?

 I only use rent-o-meter for rough rental rates, not for other expenses.  Note though, that the data can be wildly out of date, and you have to look carefully at the "comps" being used, since some of them are likely in other areas of town, and may not be representative of rates in the area you're looking to buy.  It's just a quick litmus, and that's the reason I use the low end of the range.

Axel, although most MLS listings show on, not all of them and not always immediately. Since there is no cost to you to using a buyer agent, why wouldn't you add that to you list of methods of finding deals? they can set you up with automatic notices of new duplexes that come on the market.

Second, many investors find deals the same way real estate agents find listings:  by marketing for them.  empty properties, probate connections, craigslist, fsbo signs, etc.  There are many many threads here on BP about marketing for leads, so do some searches under the category "real estate investor marketing and advice"

I would start attending local events and networking with wholesalers.  there are two groups near you: in Manchester which is the second Wednesday, and NH Real Estate Investors Mastermind which is the third Wed I think, you can find that group on Meetup.  

As for expenses, I wouldn't use zillow for that under any circumstances.  First you need to start to understand all the expenses involved, and I can almost guarantee that most mls listings will leave some out.  It is very common that agents listings duplexes are focuses on residential single family properties, so have very little clue what makes a good investment.   So a few books on landlording will help.  Also there are several resources here on BP under the "Learn" tab.  My favorite on multi family analysis is Milt Tanzer's "Real estate investments and how to make them" or something close to that.  

For example, most mls listings will ignore water/sewer.  You can call the city and ask them about the usage on a particular property.  As for taxes, look them up on the city website, the assessment will be listed on the property card, and the rate per thousand will be either on the assessment page or the tax collector page.  Ask your insurance agent for a rule of them when estimate insurance costs in various towns that you are looking.  You need to be able to estimate expenses yourself and not depend on what the agent provides, which is likely to be a fairy tale.  

I always run my own analysis and don't depend on the realtor to give me the entire picture.  You should start to develop your own system for doing this.  I developed my own spreadsheet long ago to help me.  

Axel, has much more accurate mls listings and tax info than zillow and te other website you mentioned.  I would add that resource to your search methods.  With regard to expenses, even if you plan to manage te properties yourself i would include a management fee in your CF estimations.   This will allow you to buy it right so that you have the returns you need to outsource the management at a later date if you so choose.  Also, if it doesn't CF very nicely with management, repairs etc getting factored in then the deal is just to tight in my opinion.  I want to own properties that I love and can't imagine my life without them even if I pay a property manager.  If I were breaking even or making peanuts after deducting property management exp that would not be a property I love to own.  

I harp on this just bc most of my friends don't factor management into their calculations bc they manage their own and eventually I think they will regret it.  

Good luck!

I wish I could find some duplexes to fourplexes for my investor clients here. They are a great investment, but they are as scarce as hen's teeth in Houston. I think I've only seen one duplex for sale in the last three months.

Thank you all you your thorough responses, especially @Ann Bellamy .

To Ann - I obviously see that you are very active in the MA/NH area. Have you been seeing many duplexes coming up in the northern MA area? I want to know if I should expand my search. You have certainly given me a lot to think about. I have reached out to an agent I know through a family connection who works with investors. 

To @Brett C. - I see your from Hampstead, very cool. Are you an active investor in the area? If so, what is your opinion of the rockingham market?

I don't buy in MA, @Axel Ragnarsson, I buy only in NH, so I don't look for duplexes in MA, no idea.  I lend in both NH and MA, but I'm lazy and choose to have rentals only in NH, where the laws are more advantageous.  So I'm sorry, I don't pay attention to what's come on the market in MA.  

But why are you limiting yourself to duplexes?  

I'm very active my man.  I have two properties and I'm also actively shopping for my third.  Tonight I wrap up my last night of class for my real estate agent license course so maybe in about a week or two after I pass the exam I can show you some properties.  I'm getting my license to help with my own investing but I also want to help investors.  As Ann mentioned earlier in this thread, most agents don't have a clue about investing.

Originally posted by @Fred Heller :

Good luck!

I wish I could find some duplexes to fourplexes for my investor clients here. They are a great investment, but they are as scarce as hen's teeth in Houston. I think I've only seen one duplex for sale in the last three months.

 Sounds like you ought to partner with a builder and provide multi family inventory for your market.  Sounds like a license to print money.  

I'm mainly looking for multi-family, however many properties with 3/4+ units start to leave my price range. I'm not necessarily looking for a SFR, I'm hoping to buy a duplex and move in to a side in a couple years after I need to move from my current location. I also didn't want to bite off more than I could chew, so I figured I'd start in one area (multi-family) and later move into other properties, like SF. However if you were to tell me that it is easier to find worth SFRs in NH right now I might change my mind.. :) @Ann Bellamy

That is very interesting Brett. Not sure what properties you are in the market for, but I would love to work with an agent such as yourself. I'm in the situation where I have a lot of business to give and would love to get in touch and bounce some ideas/properties off you. @Brett C.

No, I meant wondering why you didn't consider a 3 or 4 unit.  But now I understand.

@Account Closed described as a MLS Fact Sheet) for each property.

I also check out Vision Appraisal ( This site provides some additional high-level info (i.e. current owner, assessed value, square footage, etc.).

Being a new investor, I have only attended a few NH REIA meetings to-date, but have already learned quite a bit and will continue to attend future meetings.

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