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Single-Family or Multi-family Rental Properties: Which Is Superior?

Rental Properties

For those unable to withstand the stock market’s volatility, real estate can be an excellent alternative. It’s also a better investment for investors who’re looking to take on an active role in increasing their capital, instead of passively putting their money into a fund for someone else to manage. The fact that multiple strategies can be successfully used is one of the greatest advantages about investing in real estate.

For instance, real estate investing moguls – Zhang Xin and Donald Bren both built their billion-dollar fortunes by developing several residential and commercial properties. In contrast, Sam Zell, the founder of Equity Residential, built his wealth by slowly acquiring an income-producing portfolio of rental properties.

Other real estate investors have also earned a lot from purchasing properties or house flipping for cents on the dollar (buying houses in disrepair and renovating them to sell them at greater cost). One such form of investment is in multi-family properties; let’s see why it’s one of many investors’ best options.

A Lot Easier to Finance, But More Expensive

In many cases, purchasing an apartment building as an investment is substantially more expensive than the cost to buy a single-family home. While a single unit rental can cost an investor a few thousand dollars, a multi-family building can go up to millions.

Initially, it may seem as though securing a one-family property loan is simpler than trying to secure funds for a million-dollar complex. However, the fact is, a multi-family property has more chances of being approved by a bank for a loan than a typical home. The reason is that multi-family properties consistently generate strong cash flows on a monthly basis. This remains the case even if a property has many vacancies or some tenants who don’t pay rent on time.

If a tenant moves out of a one-family home, that whole property become vacant. In contrast, a property with ten units and a single vacancy is considered 10% vacant. Consequently, the chance of foreclosing on an apartment building isn’t as high as a one-family rental. All of this translates to a less risky investment for a lending institution; it can also result in a better interest rate for the landlord.

Growing a Portfolio Doesn’t Take Much Time

For property investors who intend to build a relatively big rental units portfolio, multi-family real estate is a great option. Acquiring an apartment building with 20 units is less time consuming and more efficient than buying 20 different one-family homes. With the latter option, an individual would need to work with 20 different sellers and perform inspections on 20 houses, with each of them a potentially at different locations. This route would also need an investor to open 20 separate loans for each property in certain cases. By simply buying one property with 20 units, this headache can simply be avoided.

You’re in a Situation Where Property Management Makes Financial Sense

Certain real estate investors don’t enjoy the hassles of property management and appoint a property management firm to take hold of their rentals’ day-to-day operations. Typically, a property manageris is paid a portion of the monthly income that a property produces. Their responsibilities may consist of screening and finding tenants, maintaining the property, handling evictions, and gathering rent payments.

Many investors who own one or two single-family homes don’t have the luxury of contracting a manager from outside since it’s not a financially sound decision considering their small portfolio. The amount of money that multi-family properties generate every month gives their owners room to leverage property management services without substantially cutting into their margins.

The Bottom Line

Like stocks, investing in real estate enables an individual to be successful using a variety of different strategies. Owning a collection of rental properties is one of the most popular ways to invest in real estate. One-family rentals are properties consisting of just one residential rental unit, while apartment complexes that have more than one rental unit are referred to as multi-family properties. There are a plethora of advantages to owning multi-family real estate. These comprise the ability to grow one’s rental property portfolio quickly, and access to better and easier financing opportunities. So go ahead and invest in multi-family properties. It’s worth it.

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How to Determine the Value of Your Real Estate Investment

Real Estate Investment

Please answer a simple question: How much time do you spend picking out clothes every morning? Usually, it’s longer than most investors spend doing the math for real estate investment analysis. Unfortunately, people select deals based not on analytics, but intuition.

Diving deep into the details of deal analytics may feel like a trip to jargon-town. Total return? Cash-on-cash return? NOI? Cap rate? Feeling bewildered? You’re not the only one.

In this article, we teach you how to determine the value of your real estate investment – the preliminary step towards conducting a real estate analysis. Different properties are valued differently. Evaluating a triplex the same way you assess a single-family home will lead to a wildly skewed figure. Here is what you need to know.

Single-Family Homes

Market comparables (comps) identify the value of the investment, single-family homes, etc. These comps are nearby properties demonstrating similar characteristics. They share variables like amenities, garage size, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, floor plan. Generally, a single-family investment home increases in value if a similar home nearby is also increasing in value – and vice versa.

Multi-Unit Properties

Larger investment properties – those consisting of at least two units, and especially those with over four, are valued and priced differently. The value is directly related to how much profit or income the property generates. It’s possible that an apartment building in a neighborhood where house prices are declining could increase in value.

You can’t compare your apartment building to others down the street to assess how much it’s worth. This is where real estate investment analysis comes in handy. There are several primary factors to take into consideration. However, appreciation and cash flow are the two most important variables. To put it simply, cash flow is the money left after every bill has been paid, and appreciation is referred to as the equity acquired as the value of property increases.

Since there aren’t many ways to estimate future appreciation without a crystal ball, it’s better to focus on the cash flow.

Collecting your information

Good financial analysis consists of feeding a bunch of information into a financial model and using its calculations to determine whether the investment is good or bad – and right for you. Be aware of these variables for the most comprehensive financial analysis of a residential property:

  • Property details – utility metering design, square footage, number of units, etc.
  • Purchase information – improvement costs or purchase price plus rehab, or total purchase expenses.
  • Financing details – loan or mortgage information, like closing costs, interest rate, down payment, and the total loan amount.
  • Income – rent payments along with any other income the property generates.
  • Expenses – maintenance costs, including maintenance, insurance, and property taxes.

Actual or Pro-Forma Data

Getting good data from your model needs accurate, reliable information. Remember: It is in the seller’s best interest to offer appealing, not precise, numbers. For instance, they may offer high rental income approximations or neglect to mention some maintenance expenses. It is part of the investor’s job to ensure you have the best available information.

Estimated – or pro-forma – data from the seller only kicks off the discussion. Determine the actual numbers before closing. Ask to see maintenance records, property tax bills, and previous years’ tax returns. Hopefully, the actual data resembles the pro-forma data. However, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

Don’t forget to check for a prospective surprise

Check for a surprise as well. For instance, when was the last time the property was evaluated for taxes? If it was a while ago, and values have substantially increased, it is possible that the taxes will increase and the property will soon be reevaluated. Even little changes to expense and income numbers can mean significant changes to your bottom line.

Where to look for data?

Confused as to where to track down the necessary information? Begin here.

  • The seller must make the property details available. For more detailed, comprehensive information, check with your local records.
  • Purchase information comprises any improvement or upfront maintenance work that must be finished before the property’s income potential is met. Have the property inspected to ensure that no hidden problems or issues exist.
  • Your mortgage broker or lender may offer financing details.
  • The seller directly gives the income details – but don’t depend on pro-forma data. You can also have a chat with the property management firm currently dealing with the property, if one exists, for this information.
  • The property Management Company or seller must directly offer expenses. A building inspector can notify you regarding any major repairs that may surface, like an HVAC system or a new roof.