When investing in multifamily properties, there are other factors outside the cap rate, P&L, rent rolls and cash on cash that you should consider. In fact, the numbers, although highly critical in your analysis, are only a portion of what should dictate the decision to proceed. As you begin your due diligence period, you may want to consider these other potential pitfalls before you seal the deal.
What To Look For
The pulse of a multifamily investment doesn’t always come from what the books are saying. In fact, if you fail to investigate the day-to-day culture of tenants and demeanor of the current property, you could be in for a big surprise.
Unless you have the privilege of being one of the few investors that can walk into a new property and completely clean house and not worry about cash flow, these indicators may be warning signs of a much deeper-rooted problem that may not be worth the investment.
• Excessive wear of interior of units: Normal wear and tear is one thing, but severe deferred maintenance found amongst a higher percentage of units could be a telling sign of trouble. Outside issues found in inspections, walking each unit is by far one of the most effective ways to determine if this is an issue.
• Consistent negative feedback from tenants: The key here is listing any repetitive, serious issues that keep coming up and being able to discern from the minor issues. Talking to tenants is a great resource for information, and you should capitalize on the opportunity while you are walking each unit. Understanding that tenants have no real incentive to speak anything but the truth typically makes the feedback more reliable and genuine.
• High traffic at night: How a property operates at night is another piece of the puzzle you may want to consider when analyzing a multifamily investment. Typically, during the day, people are at work and there is not much activity. A visit at night can give you the insight you may need to see if the safety of the property is adequate or not. Extremely high traffic at night could be a potential indicator of crime, but, more importantly, it can be a deterrent for future tenants.
• The unhappiness of tenants: Are the tenants unhappy or happy? It might seem like a silly question at first; however, the crux of the sustainability and future of the investment can lie within the answer. Do you see more positive feedback than negative? If this answer is no, you may want to find out why and see if the solutions are in line with the budget and the vision of the investment. Solutions to these issues could be as simple as a more secure entry room door or better lighting outside the walkways. However, if it’s due to criminal behavior or domestic issues in the complex, this can help open your eyes to the entire picture and consider factors the numbers fail to disclose.
As investors scream through the numbers, it’s easy to bypass the human side of the transaction. Where the human component of multifamily should be considered just as crucial to the decision, it’s not uncommon to be an afterthought or one of the lower priorities of the analysis. Focusing solely on the bottom line and not taking this factor into consideration is a recipe for disaster.
The damage that a toxic culture in a property can do is much more impactful because it not only affects the individual, it can spread to the entire community. You can fix a leaky sink, a broken heater or clean up the landscaping, but not addressing these issues can take a major strain on the investment if you’re not prepared.