5 Keys To Finding Off-Market Multifamily Deals

As a real estate investor, you know it’s important to find the best properties for your needs. The perfect property is different for every portfolio, but when a multifamily complex officially goes on the market, it can be hard to out-maneuver the competition. You can expand your options when you look at complexes that aren’t on the market. Many current owners are willing to sell under the right circumstances, even if they haven’t formally listed their buildings. Learn how to find off-market multifamily buildings to add to your investment portfolio.

Establish Your Criteria

First, decide what you’re looking for in your new investment. You’ll be most successful when you consider the type of facility you hope to purchase, as well as the resources you can extend.

Many real estate investors start their rental journey on a small scale, often beginning with a stand-alone, single-family home. From there, they move onto small multifamily options such as duplexes or quad units, then graduate onto bigger multifamily facilities. Decide which type of building you’re interested in purchasing at the beginning of your off-market search, especially if you’re looking for a significantly larger property than you’ve managed before. This will help you keep growing at a reasonable pace while protecting your investment.

You should also consider the other aspects of your ideal building. Are you willing to renovate your new units to make them more marketable, or do you need a turnkey building? Do you hope to absorb current staff, or will you be bringing in a new management team? Decide what you can work around and what is non-negotiable.

Finally, secure your financing before beginning your search. This shows current owners that your offers are serious, plus helps you build a realistic plan for yourself.

Identify Your Target Location

Once you know what you’d like to see in your building, identify where you’ll be searching. Major metropolitan areas traditionally offer strong investment options. Big cities have big populations and are typically job centers, attracting new residents every day. This high economic activity usually brings high demand for housing and other service industries, making multifamily complexes a strong investment.

However, you shouldn’t limit your search to big cities. Suburban and even rural areas can offer investment opportunities as well. Commuters and remote workers may prefer to live outside large cities, so you can also find a market outside the major population centers. 

Whichever location appeals to you, make sure to research trends in population movement, average rent, employment rates, and other factors that influence the housing market.

Hit The Streets

When you’re searching for off-market properties, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s no centralized list, catalog, or website of properties that aren’t for sale. One powerful way to start finding leads is simply to hit the streets. Go to your target location and physically wander around to see what you can find.

Look for properties that may be struggling. For example, look for apartment complexes with empty parking lots at dinner time, poorly maintained landscaping, or dated facilities. These are signs that the current owner may be having a hard time, and would be open to selling.

Keep an eye out for properties that match your ideal characteristics. It’s a good idea to bring your list of dream qualities when you’re looking. This list is your search guide and can help you evaluate potential complexes with a more discerning gaze.

Focus on gathering information on your initial search, not on making anyone an offer that day. You’re unlikely to find the perfect property, at exactly your ideal budget, with a For Sale sign in the window. Instead, make note of all the multifamily complexes that fit your qualifications. You can reach out to the current owners once you’ve done further research and are ready to make an offer.

Leverage Your Relationships

Tap into your networks to find properties that may be for sale. Friends and family who know about your real estate investments may already be powerful sources of information. These contacts are probably already telling you about any building they see for sale. When you’re looking for off-market properties, pay attention to hints from these well-meaning loved ones. You never know when a friend or relative actually has a good tip.

You should also stay active in your professional groups. Look for organizations where property owners and investors are likely to join. Depending on your area, you may find groups for urban renewal, real estate professionals, property management, and even skilled trades. Attend networking events and keep an ear out for people who are ready to retire, take a step back, or get into another line of work. These individuals may be open to selling, even if they haven’t formally listed their properties.

Embrace Patience 

When you find your perfect off-market property, it’s time to contact the current owner. This will be a cold call in many cases. Since the property isn’t on the market, the owner isn’t inviting offers. Be prepared for the conversation to go either way. 

Some owners simply won’t be interested in selling, no matter the state of their current property or how generous your offer is. Other owners may be open to the idea of selling in time, but they need you to win them over. Either way, you’ll be most successful when you’re patient with the process.

You might make offers on many properties before finding an owner who’s willing to sell, or you may spend many months convincing one current owner to take your deal. Just like with any real estate investment, be levelheaded and try to remain emotionally detached from the process. If your offers are fair, eventually you’ll find the next property for your portfolio.

Learn More About Multifamily Real Estate Investing

Life as a real estate investor offers as many challenges as it does rewards and we’re here to support you every step of the way. Learn all about this journey and discover how to take control of your life by becoming a member of the Multifamily Matrix.


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Bryan Chavis

Bryan Chavis

Bryan Chavis is the only property management coach whose book appears in the US Library of Congress, is ranked #4 on the National Association of Realtors “Top Real Estate Books” list, is a worldwide bestseller and the only book to appear as an official resource in Wikipedia under property management.

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