Advice for investing in Apartment Complexes

I am currently a junior in college for corporate financing and as I’m getting closer to graduating I have been looking deeper and deeper on how to being in REI in apartment complexes. I unfortunately have no network of people to go to for advice or help in how to get started. I want to start out with a $1 million to $2.5 million investment opportunity.

Being a 22 years old college student, i have little to no money. How can i get financing other than seller financing? (Just looking for other options because this is my main worry)

I know i need to look at financial records of the last three years of the current property. What exactly makes a property a “great deal”? I understand NOI, cap rates, expenses typically being 50% of gross income. How much under market value should i be looking into? Should a great deal be higher than a 10% cap rate and/or have a debt coverage ratio higher than a 1.3?

Also, for the first couple of years of operating an apartment complex, should i hire a property management company to maintain the property and learn all the in’s and out’s before i take control and hire my own leasing agents and property manager?

All comments are welcomed :slight_smile: i need some guidance from people who have been down this road. Thank you!!


Congradulations on working your way through college!

With that said there are some tough and harsh realities to face!

First a $1m dollar property requires a minimum of $100k down and possible as much as $250k down plus closing cost’s at let’s estimate $25k, your $2.5m dollar property requires a minimum of $250k down and possible as much as $625k down plus closing cost’s at let’s estimate $62.5k.

It sounds like you will be 23 when you graduate, probable the best thing is to take a job, save enough cash to use for buying your first single family home and while your working birddog or learn lease options or assigning.

It is tough for a college degreed working professional with 10 years investing experience to find someone to give them an opportunity in apartments let alone someone who brings nothing to the table, let’s face it “Cash is King” and without your own it makes for a rough road.

You have a lot to learn about apartment finance, about management and about when to manage yourself, you will learn and gain experience doing single family homes, will you ever save or make enough to be an apartment player, who knows.

Start gaining apartment experience by investing in a duplex, triplex or four plex and gain some experience, then see financially where you might end up being!

I have a brother with a Masters in Finance, the difference between him and you is 25 years of experience, a career track record and 25 years of investing, could he convince someone to partner with him, you betcha. But he also brings experience, has a great career with a big salary, great credit and he has the ability because he has saved money to have $200k or $300k or more to partner with.

Good luck to you,


Gold River is offering some solid conventional advice on how to do what you’re wanting to do. I’ve got a more creative take on a solution…

First, it’s going to take you forever to put away even $100k right out of school, especially if you’ve fallen prey to the notion that borrowing student loans is the way to get through college. Been there. Done that. Don’t recommend it …borrowing, that is.

That said, very grossly and simplistically speaking, you just need to find a motivated seller that is willing to give you what you want while you give him what he needs. Otherwise, you WILL have to cough up $100k or more, you will have to get partners with money, you will have to wait years.

Meantime, read and learn as much as you can, without trying to get all the ducks in order. Frankly, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get everything in order before you pull the trigger. You’re going to be shoe-horning details into your plan as you go, and if that doesn’t fit your personality, then you’re gonna have a tough time doing anything new.

You need a resource library. Get these:

  1. “HOW TO MANAGE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY FOR MAXIMUM CASH FLOW AND RESALE VALUE” by John T. Reed. This is the Bible for property management.

  2. “Property Management Magic” by Wright Thurston. Google “wright thurston property management magic” and find his entire course on Ebay for about eleven dollars. Don’t let the low price fool you. Worth many times that.

  3. Get the “NOLO” version of state laws and statutes for your state. Google “NOLO” and you’ll find its a resource for California State real estate law, etc.

  4. USLEGALFORMS provides solid, state-specific forms and contracts that fit a wide variety of situations, including lease, purchase and sale, options, etc.

Let me briefly give you a real life example that i share every so often about my first apartment deal.

I analyzed over 200 operating data sheets on apartments in Kansas City, MO and Johnson County, KS.

PM me for a copy of the sheet, since the moderators keep removing the link whenever I put it here…

Once I was able to recognize bad deals from average ones, based on the income and expense ratios (and studying the market values/rents for similar sized units/building sizes), I started making intelligent offers.

Now …you won’t know who’s motivated until you make them an offer they CAN refuse. Then it’s a matter of either moving on, or continuing to negotiate. Don’t waste time with unmotivated sellers, or try to convince them to accept your “creative financing” schemes. If you’re trying to shoe-horn your ideas down the seller’s throat, you haven’t spent enough time asking questions about what the seller is trying to accomplish by selling the property in the first place. The solutions or roadblocks become obvious when you ask enough questions about the seller’s situation/motivations. This you’ll learn how to do by doing it.

Meantime, figure that your first 20/30 offer/negotiations are just for giggles and practice. Don’t get emotionally attached to a deal. Deals will emerge every 30 days if you’re looking for them. Seriously.

Then forget about “wasting seller’s time” and all that crap you’re bound to hear from amateur negotiators. I’ve lost count of the times an amateur told me that he didn’t want me to “waste my time if my offer wasn’t such and such.” BS “Wasting Seller’s/Buyer’s time” is how we MAKE THE BIG BUCKS!

I highly recommend Barney Zick’s course “He Who Talks First Loses Wins.” It’s a course on negotiating that is superb.

Another great source on negotiating is “The Secrets of Power Negotiating” by Roger Dawson (Nightingale-Conant)

You should also read Rich Dad’s “OPM.”

My first apartment building was 30 units. I owned a handful of mid-city rentals already, and had a significant amount of residential management experience under my belt. I did achieve 90% seller financing on the apartments. I borrowed the down payment, then after I got title, pulled in partners to pay for the rehabbing, and split $400k in just a few months time.

If I had been smart, I would have flipped the building for a $75,000 fee and moved on, but I had a goal of owning 30 units, and hell or high water I did. The next 30 units was a cinch, after I knew what I was doing; knew what factors to look for, focused on problems, not people, etc.

However, I could not really understand all that before actually getting into it. Some things you can only learn by doing. I was in a hurry to learn bigger league dealing, and so I didn’t wait to get $100k in the bank, or wait to buy duplexes and what not. I went directly from ghetto houses to mid-sized apartment buildings in one fell swoop.

The only real limitation to realizing your objectives and goals is YOU.

Extra credit… I posted this response on another forum, that I think you’ll find helpful (maybe)…

Here’s my plan for you…

  1. Write down your goal. Include all the benefits of reaching the goal (followed by a list of consequences for not reaching the goal)
  2. Establish a deadline. Set a date by which you MUST reach the goal. It makes no difference the length of time, because you’ll either reach it, or you won’t, but without it, you’ll NEVER reach it. You can always reset the deadline later (as long as you actually set one).
  3. Commit to the goal publicly. Tell every person in your family and closest circle of friends what your goal is (including your children, wife, mother-in-law, boss, co-workers, etc.) and the deadline you have set for yourself. Prepare mentally for a lack of support or worse …an onslaught of negativity and second-guessing and perhaps reminders of what you failed at before …and maybe what a loser you’ve been in the past. Carefully, but decisively eliminate those losers from your circle of association, how ever, if at all possible. Keep in mind that people will do two things in regard to achieving your vision; help you, or get out of the way. You need to know which ones will do which.
  4. Take action immediately. Do something every day toward reaching the goal.

Do just those four things first, and then the “how” will begin to appear as you take the next step.

Go for it!

You need to look into business credit…YouTube it …You will see it all come alive from there…