How to Buy an Apartment Complex: First-Time Buyers guide

Learn About Types of Apartment Complexes

it’s essential to understand the differences between different types of apartment complexes when learning how to buy an apartment complex. Apartment complexes are classified by size, layout, amenities, and location. You may also come across high-rise, studio, loft, and low-rise terms. To better understand what these terms mean, consider some common examples.

Apartment complexes can be large and luxurious, or they can be small, detached buildings. Many are owned by one developer, while many developers own others. Most apartment complexes offer basic amenities, like laundry rooms and elevators; some even have rooftop green spaces. Other features include gym facilities, parking lots, and 24-hour concierge. Lastly, some apartment complexes offer dedicated areas for children.

To understand the differences between these types of apartments, it’s essential to understand what makes each one unique. For example, a duplex contains two side-by-side apartments and looks similar to a traditional single-family home. On the other hand, a triplex has three or more apartments on the same floor.

Class A buildings

class a buildings

Class A buildings represent the best-quality properties on the market. These properties are professionally managed, have convenient access, and are centrally located. As a result, they tend to command higher rents. They are also home to high-quality tenants and have world-class amenities. First-time buyers can find great value in Class A buildings.

Class A properties tend to command a higher rent than other types of properties. This is because the commercial tenants competing for these properties are typically well-established, well-known players in their industry. They generally are located in neighborhoods with a sound school system and a low crime rate. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some Class A multifamily properties are in very desirable urban locations.

While Class A buildings are a good choice for first-time buyers, investors should consider the buyer’s risk tolerance. In general, Class B and C properties are considered less safe investments. Renovating Class B and C buildings to Class A standards is challenging and should be entrusted to more experienced real estate developers.

Class B buildings

class b buildings

If you are a first-time buyer interested in investing in multifamily properties, you might consider Class B buildings. These buildings are generally middling in quality and have been around for a while. While they may not have the finest amenities or the most striking lobbies, they often come with more affordable maintenance and upkeep. In addition, Class B buildings typically have professional property managers, which can increase the chance of tenant renewal.

Class B buildings are typically four or fewer stories high. They are located in financial districts or suburban neighborhoods. Although they have older construction, Class B buildings have been extensively revitalized and retain their historically large windows. Since many of these buildings were previously warehouses or factories, they offer plenty of space and the potential for tenant improvements.

Class C buildings

class c buildings

A Class C building may be a good choice if you are a first-time home buyer. They are typically smaller and are located on side streets. They often have few amenities on-site and may not have the most updated fixtures. Additionally, they may only have one elevator. However, these apartments usually come with more favorable terms and lower rents.

When you purchase a Class C building, check for the property’s condition and age. Some of these buildings are so old that they need significant renovation. However, there are plenty of options to improve the state of these buildings. A Class C building that has undergone a renovation could become an excellent option for a first-time buyer.

Class D buildings

class d buildings

If you are considering investing in Class D buildings, there are some things you need to know first. First, be aware of forced appreciation. This occurs when investors make renovations to increase the value of their property. This differs from natural appreciation, when the property’s value rises naturally because of market forces.

Second, consider the location of the property. In many cases, Class D buildings are older and have fewer amenities than Class A buildings. They may need extensive repairs and are located in less desirable areas.

SEE ALSO: How to buy your first commercial property

Set Your Budget

It’s time to set your budget after deciding on the type of apartment building you want to buy. Remember that many apartment buildings require a $100,000 or higher down payment. Make sure you have that kind of money on hand. When planning your budget, try to project your cash flow. Online rental property calculators can help you calculate your monthly and annual income. With these estimates, try to be conservative. The best-case scenario is not always achievable.

Get Pre-Approved

Obtaining pre-approval from a mortgage lender makes buying an apartment complex much more effortless. This process, also known as a Good Faith Estimate, is where a lender gives you a loan amount based on your personal financial information and credit score. Banks look at your FICO score, a combination of three credit reporting agencies.

Getting pre-approved will give you an idea of the maximum loan amount you can afford and an itemized estimate of your monthly payment and closing costs. This information can help you narrow your search and choose a home that suits your budget. In some cases, buyers get pre-approved for a more significant amount than they need. That way, they can find a payment that is comfortable for them.


Check out our sister company Calcore Mortgage!


Look For Properties and Make Offers

When buying an apartment complex, there are many things to consider. First, make sure you know which type of apartment building you want to buy. You may wish to purchase a brand-new complex or an older one that needs some renovations. A good agent can help you determine what is best for you and your budget.

Another critical step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You should take this step before you look at properties. This way, a seller will know that you can afford the property. Also, you can always choose a different lender if the deal falls through.

SEE ALSO: Pros and Cons of investing in commercial real estate

Select a Property Management Company

One of the most crucial considerations when buying an apartment complex is choosing the right property management company. The right property management company will oversee the day-to-day operations of your investment, including screening tenants, maintaining common areas, and handling tenant disputes. This type of work requires year-round attention, so selecting a company that can offer the expertise you need is essential.

A great property management company will treat your buildings as if they were their own. This includes attending seminars and classes and training employees. A good property management company will have a streamlined approach and tools to ensure your building operates as efficiently as possible.

Finalize the Deal and Financing

When buying an apartment complex, it is critical to understand how financing works. Apartment building financing differs from a single-family home and often requires a higher down payment. Your financial projections and credit history will be essential in getting financing approved. Commercial banks, seller financing, and private loans are familiar sources for apartment complex financing. Loan terms vary from several years to 25 years and can be either fixed or adjustable. The interest rate is also essential, and the loan may have prepayment penalties.

Financing options can include conventional and non-conforming mortgages. A traditional mortgage can purchase a single-family property, but a blanket loan can buy an entire multifamily complex.

SEE ALSO: The best cities for commercial real estate in California

Stabilize Your Investment

Prepare to spend several months or years stabilizing your investment and getting everything in order. Once you have a steady stream of tenants, you may want to consider expanding with a new apartment building.

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Buying an Apartment Building: FAQs

If you’re looking to invest in apartment buildings, here are a few important questions you should ask yourself. 

Is Buying an Apartment Complex a Good Investment

Investing in apartment buildings has many advantages over owning single-family homes:
Apartment buildings tend to cost more than single-family homes. They also take longer to buy and sell, and the process is often more complicated.
They can provide a higher yield than single-family homes.
They can offer less risk than single-family homes.
Before making a decision:
Consider all of the costs involved. You’ll need to factor in property maintenance and insurance costs, as well as the rental income from the apartments.
Determine a budget.
Leave some money in case of repairs or future property purchases.
Investing in an apartment complex can be lucrative if you choose the right property. However, it’s important to remember that apartment complexes are typically best suited for more seasoned investors. To make the most of your investment, understand the process and invest your time early in the planning phase.
If you’re a first-time buyer, you might want to start with a small apartment complex. These properties are typically less expensive than larger apartment complexes. Usually, lenders require a twenty-percent down payment. That means that if you’re buying a $500,000 apartment building, you’ll need to invest $100,000.

How Much Does an Apartment Building Cost?

If you plan to build a new apartment complex, the first step is hiring an architect. These professionals are responsible for laying out the blueprints for building construction and will help you determine the initial budget. They also help you select the general contractor and act as a project manager.
The cost of an apartment building varies but generally ranges from $500 to $1,000 per unit. The cost of maintenance, repairs, and other expenses are also included in the total cost. However, you should be aware that apartment building operations can be expensive, and your investment should only be financed when you are sure that you can handle the responsibilities.
The cost of an apartment building is affected by many factors, including the location, size, and type of building. The more complex your building is, the more money it will cost. Also, the size of the building will affect the cost of construction. More significant buildings are likely to cost more, but smaller ones tend to be more affordable. You should also factor in the cost of labor.
Another factor to consider is the insurance costs. The cost of insurance for an apartment complex can vary widely. Investing in the wrong insurance could cost you your entire investment.

How Much Money Can I Make From an Apartment Building?

Renting out apartments is lucrative, and there are several ways to increase your income. The most common source of income is rental payments from tenants, but you can also add supplemental income from vending machines, laundry machines, and parking spots for non-residents. These sources can be incredibly profitable in upscale urban areas. If you do not have experience managing rental properties, you can hire a property management company to do the work for you.
Suppose you own a 25-unit apartment complex. Taking the net income for the previous year, you’ll find that the complex generates $270,000 in gross rental income per year or $900 per unit. That’s a net operating income of $175,000 yearly (before debt). And let’s not forget that the laundry room and parking spaces cost $10k. That would be a net income of $225,000 or a profit of $600,000.
Apart from the rent, you can also make money from ancillary income such as coin-operated laundromats, vending machines, clubhouse rentals, reserved parking spaces, shared wifi, and pet fees. With creative thinking, you can develop new ways to increase your income from your apartment complex.
The profitability of an apartment complex depends on several factors, including its value and net operating income. Although the initial cash outlay is high, if the rent prices of the apartments exceed the expenses and mortgage payments, you’ll be in the black. Nevertheless, you must be careful not to underestimate ownership costs, especially in big-ticket repair issues and unexpected vacancies.