In today’s volatile financial markets the savvy investor needs to look beyond traditional financial vehicles such as stocks and bonds to ensure long term capital growth and security. Ownership of a multi-family apartment building can be a great investment strategy as part of a larger well diversified portfolio. Unfortunately, many novice commercial real estate investors have been deterred from apartment building investment with thoughts of weekends spent painting or even trying to collect past rent from overdue tenants. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are some surprising facts about apartment building investments that will completely change the way you view this unique investment vehicle.
Warren Buffet once famously said that he prefers to invest in a market “when there is blood in the street”. In other words, the investment guru looks for opportunities while others are looking away. Residential real estate markets across the United States are in a tail spin. Foreclosure rates are at record highs in many metropolitan markets.
Nobody knows if there is an end in sight or if more families will be pushed from their homes due to rising mortgage payments and an economic slowdown. Instead of buying into a weak residential housing market while prices are still declining, a strategic investment made in a medium sized apartment building allows the investor to provide much needed housing, to a potential base of millions of displaced people.
Even with a slowing economy and business cutbacks people always will need a place to live. Demand for rental property has never been higher. According to a recent United States census, currently one-third or 36 million of all households in the United States are renter-occupied. In fact, a full 83% of all households under age 25 rent and 55% of households between 25 and 35 are renters. The growing population of senior citizens will also continue to depend on rental housing as a less expensive and less burdensome alternative to home ownership.
In contrast to residential homes, many multi-family properties can be purchased for a price that is well below he replacement cost. This makes older, well run multi-family properties more competitive with newly constructed properties that must charge higher rents to cover their mortgage payments. In addition, newly constructed multi-family buildings can bring up the value of existing properties and increase the value of your investment.
One of the greatest advantages of an investment in an apartment property is the fact that you will be able to leverage your investment. Even as the sub prime residential mortgage market is crumbling, banks are more than eager to lend money on a good apartment building. Banks will generally lend up to 80% of the purchase price and in some cases will actually allow the existing owner to hold up to 10% of the purchase price in the form of an owner financed second mortgage. This allows the investor to purchase the property for as little as 10% down. Try getting a bank to loan you 80% for the purchase of common stocks.
As with any real estate investment, apartment buildings not withstanding, leverage is one of the primary benefits to ownership. A bank will supply you with 80% of the purchase price on an apartment building. For example, if you purchase an $800,000.00 property with a $600,000.00 mortgage and $200,000.00 cash, and the property increase in value by $24,000.00 after one year, that’s a 3% increase in value but a 12% increase on your $200,000.00 investment.
Don’t forget about cash flow when tallying your potential rates of return on an apartment building investment. Cash flow is simply the money left over each month after you pay your operating expenses and mortgage. You can put that money in an interest bearing account to increase your overall rate of return or make improvements on the property to increase its value.