How can you afford to hire contractors to do maintenance in large properties?

I have an 8 unit RV park. And plumbing or electrical issue, I do myself and this is legal.

However, if I were to hire licensed contractors, as I eventually will, it would eat me alive.

How do large complexes afford to do this? Obviously, the owners of 250+ unit apartment complexes are not on site.

Don’t tell me that these large firms go “under the table” and hire unlicensed people.


A large hotel or apartment complex or most commercial properties hire maintenance personal directly. A 250 unit complex hires a maintenance manager and probable 4 or 5 maintenance technicians. The property management team may employ a property manager and 3 or 4 leasing agents.

Some complexes may employ their own landscaping maintenance team. Most complexes of 250 units or larger have people available 7 days a week during the day and someone in maintenance on call over night.

Even a small 25 unit complex will have at least a part time guy working 30 or 35 hours a week and on call 24 hours a day! The maintenance team is not required to be licensed contractors!


Can we have some realness here?

You’re confusing routine maintenance with deferred maintenance.

You bought this project with “x” dollars in deferred maintenance, and now you’ve got to pay for it.

Of course, you’ll bankrupt yourself paying for retail contractors to get this all caught up in real time.

These issues should have been taken care of on time, with the reserves that were established over time.

In your case, there’s been no provision for reserves. So now you’re dragging the bottom of the tank with a rake, trying to find money to pay for these long-ignored repairs.

Get real, start funding a reserve account, and borrow the money necessary to have everything fixed at once, and use the normal cash flow to pay off the borrowed money.

OR …continue ignoring the issues, until you can bank the money necessary, from cash flow, to make the repairs.

Either way, you’ll have to stop living off the cash flow, and start funding your now-empty reserve accounts, and in the meantime stop trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. That is, stop robbing Peter, and otherwise borrow to pay Paul.

You’ve got to differentiate between routine maintenance and deferred maintenance. They are not the same thing. That said, delayed routine maintenance becomes deferred maintenance pretty quickly, and if the money to do routine maintenance has been squandered, or misspent, then you become screwed like an 80-year old hooker.

The maintenance has been where I’ve had to learn.

The first day, I didn’t even know what Teflon tape was. Now, I can redo plumbing on a whole trailer.

I bet a contractor would have charged me $1000 for hooking up plumbing to the water heater.

It’s as easy as playing with Lego’s.

You’re still not defining maintenance.

You want to find a retiree willing to earn some extra money, and learn on the job, if need be, in order to affordably cover your maintenance and repair items.

Otherwise, why aren’t you out scouting for more properties, and making offers, and letting someone else do your grunt work? You’re slowing yourself down trying to be your own maintenance man.

I mean if you want to go into the maintenance business, open up a business, and start charging your RV park for your services.

Otherwise, stop trying to put electricians and plumbers out of business, only because you can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing…

Too harsh?

I did find a retiree who wants to make extra money and teach me. The problem is that it’s illegal to pay him to do certain work. I can’t legally hire him even to “connect two wires,” as it is stated by the Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation.

I am not scouting for more properties because I don’t have the money to buy them.

I am doing deferred maintenance right now. The water heater won’t have to replaced for a very long time. That is a one-time thing. This is my first property and I am not even the owner yet. My dad bought it as a favor to me when he retired so I could manage it and eventually buy it from him.

Plans changed, and he wants to expand and buy more properties and make me 24% owner of the company (which I would earn by my completely obsessive involvement in the expansion of the company).

If I had money to sit back and buy properties, I’d be on the phone with realtors all day long, but that might be years from now.

After this brief period of doing this deferred maintenance, the place should run itself. I am getting them all Internet so they can pay me on PayPal if they want to, so I hopefully don’t even have to come here that often…

So let’s say I find a property that is a great deal. I could probably find 10 in the next week if I wanted to. I have wasted the time of many realtors in the past.

Then what? I have no money. I can’t ask my dad for anything. Where else do I find money from?

You made two phone calls to who? And found a down payment from who?

Are you saying that you made this $250,000 by improving a commercial property?

Do you generally “flip” like this instead of buy and rent?

This would lead me right back to my other post of “where do I find private investors?”

First off, you want to read up on options and any creative financing strategies you can find. This will stretch your mind.

You can start here with what I followed from Robert Allen:

I used technique 40 buy the apartments, and again to rehab it.

Interestingly, simply taking over a seller’s loans, and getting the deed, is not one of the strategies listed.

However, that is exactly how I purchased and financed my second apartment building. I took over the seller’s payments, got the deed, and turned the project around. I had no partners on that deal. And frankly, that was what I should have negotiated on my first deal, but I didn’t know better. You get more sophisticated with each deal.

Seller financing should always be your first financing option. You might be surprised at how many sellers will finance you, if you give them 10% up front. And that 10% could be pre-paid interest and principal, instead of a down payment, allowing you to recover the money in a matter of months, simply by banking what you would have been paying in debt service, but I digress.


  • You’re gonna analyze 100 different operating data sheets, and become so familiar with what you’re looking at that you can instantly recognize where the value is in a given property, if there is any.
  • You’re going to look for seller’s with management problems.
  • You’re going to sift for flexible, motivated sellers willing to finance you.
  • You won’t know how flexible and motivated they are, or if they’ll finance you, or how much they’ll finance, until you start making offers.
  • You’re gonna make offers that reflect what you want to happen in a given situation.
  • Otherwise, you look over that list of ‘no down’ strategies and see which one could work for you in a given situation.
  • You’re going to look for either price bargains, or terms bargains, or some combination, and negotiate appropriately with each.

Every deal I’ve been interested in, was/had a management problem. This is where I find the most profitable opportunities.

Yes, I made two phone calls. The first one to a guy in my church, that owned apartments. He referred me to another guy he knew who owned apartments, and was interested in investing in more. I called him, and he was interested, brought his money partner into the deal, and I had a partner with money.

My down payment came by accident and isn’t necessary duplicatable, but…

I had arranged to help a friend borrow unsecured money to buy a house. Out of the blue, he decided to refinance the loan, and pay the money off. Instead of paying the money back, he paid me, and I took over the unsecured obligation, and used the money as a down payment to buy the apartments. This money wasn’t scheduled to be paid off. It was a fluke that I was able to use it.

I would probably have ended up tapping the rehab partners for the down payment. In that case, I would have not been in 100% control of the project, because of my ignorance in negotiations. In my case, I had total control of the project, since it was in my name, and the partners did not want to be on title, because nearly immediately after purchasing the building, a black woman initiated a literal, federal investigation of me for discrimination, and my money partners were nervous about being legally connected to the project in case they found something. Of course, the feds found nothing, but they did put the fear of god in everybody in the meantime. I mean they fished deep, and my partners would have been suffering from the bends, after everything was over, if they had been connected to the deal on paper.

I made more than $250,000, turning around a non-performing, 30/unit, multifamily project.

No, I don’t generally flip, and that really wasn’t the objective of my first deal, but… it was a learning experience for me, and it became obvious for several reasons at the time, that the most profitable move was to sell out to my partners.

One of the most important things I learned was to keep my eye on the objective, which was to buy an apartment building. Several things cropped up during escrow that would have tripped up anyone else. But I refused to walk.

For example, the seller received multiple higher offers, changed his mind, and refused to close on our deal. Never mind I couldn’t close anyway, since I hadn’t found my down payment yet. I waited him out, for three months, until my down payment appeared out of nowhere, and after meeting with the seller and his attorney, and basically refusing a $10,000 offer to abandon my contract, he caved, and I closed.

You find private investors by finding deals. Then you call up people you know who invest in real estate, people at church, people at work, other owners of like properties you have under contract, etc. etc. until somebody bites.

Otherwise, you could put an ad in craigslist that say something like “Split $250,000 with me. Cash required “x” dollars.”

One of my friend put an ad in the paper that read, “Appraiser needs money to buy steals.” He beat the pants off his hard money lender’s rates, and had a lot of leverage with them after that.

That’s all I’ve got.

The question you want to keep asking yourself is “How can I make this work?” Anything else is probably defeating and discouraging, because your mind will come up with an answer, no matter what you ask. You know like, “Why am I such a jack ass?” You will come up with an answer. :smiley:

Okay, I will do things your way.

I will contact my commercial realtor, who I have already wasted hours of her time in the past, but I will get her to send me listings.

Should I just tell her there is no price limit? Should I shoot for apartment complexes that are 30-120 units?

I haven’t gotten the listings yet, but when I do, I foresee another problem.

I don’t have the money. I can’t borrow that much money from a bank or credit union because the numbers on my tax returns don’t qualify me for this.

This is where you talked about creative financing.

What are the terms of a usual seller-financed property? More like 30 years, or more like 5 years? This is a huge difference as to whether it’s profitable.

The next step would be to wait for the list. I’ll gladly show it to you when I get it.

Another question I have is… I live in Orlando, FL. What if I don’t want to limit my real estate empire to Orlando, FL. How do I know what areas would be best over the upcoming decades? I think Florida as a whole would be good because people will move here due to the weather. Texas is probably also good.

Aside from the micro- factors of finding a mismanaged property, I would like to keep my investment safe by buying in a good area.

Rather than just search Google for “growing areas,” I would like to be more accurate than that. What statistics should I look for? Projected population growth? Projected growth in GDP of the area? Or in per capita income in the area? If I could make a list like this, it would serve me for decades and I’m sure there are professional, if not government, organizations that have people working very hard to compile these statistics.

I don’t know any rich people other than my dad and his money is tied up waiting to buy that apartment complex he’s already going to buy.

Why am I such a jackass? Because I don’t have a bright orange Lamborghini yet.

Oh, wow. You’ve complicated this like cr-a-a-a-a-a-zy. Who could possibly stay motivated with that avalanche of busy work ahead…? That’s like over-preparer’s heaven.

BTW …i have a LOT of respect for you plowing into that RV park, and donating sweat equity to make that thing work, and learning how to make it work …not to mention asking questions here… I didn’t have that when I started. I had books, tapes, and an interested friend, who I could bounce ideas off of, but that was it. So, take my pushing to go higher, not as a lack of respect for what you’re doing now, but simply as a recognition of what I think you’re capable of doing…

Lance Edwards reminded me today of the mindset required to move up the food chain without money.

He said most investors wait to get money, and then they start investing. He said, the rest get the deal, and then they find the money. He said it’s the difference of self-identity. The ones who move forward without the money, are the deal makers, or consider themselves real estate entrepreneurs. The rest consider themselves as ‘just’ real estate investors.

I finally internalized this former mindset, literally, three days before I put my first apartment building under contract.

Before I had been confounded internally by my lack of financial resources. Talk about wasting agent’s time. I was the worst offender. Hope springs eternal for a ‘real estate investor.’

When I finally morphed into a ‘real estate entrepreneur’, I then made up my mind that I was going to buy an apartment, hell, high-water, or worse… It was then that something clicked inside me.

I’ve shared this story here before, but it bears repeating…

After 18 months of pulling punches, cultivating self-doubt, wasting agent’s time, pondering, making brokers mad, and trying to 'fake it ‘til I made it,’ I finally sat down and had a ‘come to Jesus meeting’ with myself.

It was a Monday, and I said to myself, “You’ve got 'til Thursday, to go hard on an apartment deal, or you need to hang this up, and get out of Dodge. This isn’t for you.”

I was 34 years old.

So, I created an outline of the exact deal I had to have, by Thursday, or I was calling it quits, selling my ghetto deals, and moving out of Dodge as a quitter, loser, and did I mention a quitter? It was do or die. (It was rather an ultimatum to God)

Here’s the outline of my deal requirements, as I remember:

  1. 30+ units.
  2. A “Steal” deal (undefined, but I would know it, if I saw it)
  3. Seller financing.
  4. No down payment (which meant 100% seller financing)
  5. No credit check.
  6. Deadline Thursday (or bombs away)

Well, on Thursday morning, I found 30 units in the paper. It was a steal price. I met the seller that morning. I offered him what he wanted, but said I wanted him to finance me. He agreed, but he wanted a slightly higher price. I caved. He said he wanted 30% down. I caved to that, too. He said he wanted a seven-year amortization schedule on the balance. Not realizing just exactly how high those payments would be, I caved to that, too.

I agreed to his price and terms sight unseen.

BTW, he didn’t ask for an earnest deposit, and I didn’t offer him one. I didn’t have it anyway, so it was all good.

We both signed the purchase contract written on a yellow lined note pad. He then invited me to look at the property.

Mind you, who in their right mind would negotiate, much less sign a purchase agreement on a property without first seeing it?

Answer: Somebody who was gonna buy a 30 unit building by Thursday, or else.

I was expecting a foreclosure dump. When we arrived at the building, I discovered a beautiful, 3-story, blond-brick building with balconies, a lawn, a pool area (pool had been filled in after an accident), and an unobstructed view of the largest park in the city. I could not believe my eyes.

As an aside, the seller’s asking price was so low, he was turning down offers two, and three times what I agreed to pay, and the next day he called me, refusing to close.

I could have walked. Instead, I recorded a lien against his property, to keep him from selling to anyone else without my cooperation.

Did I mention I had no ability to close?

Meantime, the seller’s refusal to honor our deal, gave me more time to find the down payment I agreed to pay on my ‘100% seller financing deal.’

Never mind the seller offered me ten thousand dollars to walk away. I still refused.

I was on a mission from God to own apartments, not walk with ten grand in cash for doing nothing.

That focus gave me what I needed to bring that deal home. This illustrates the mindset I maintained in finding the money, after I had the deal, and not before.

In a way, that illustrates one difference between Donald Trump and Mitt Romney. Both are businessmen, but one manages deals for profit, and the other one puts them together for bigger profits.

Which one is worth more?

BTW, you’re not going to be locating deals through agents. You’re only pitching and presenting to principals. Agents are only good for free operating data statements, because agents are the only ones that have those available in any quantity.

And frankly, you’ve got to ask a LOT of agents for operating data, not just the one you dragged through hell already.

It doesn’t make any difference what sizes of deals you analyze. The point is to become so familiar with numbers that you can negotiate from a position of strength and confidence.

This is an opportunity to play with the numbers, and apply all manner of ‘what if’ scenarios to an actual projects, and see what the results could be. Some deals are so bad, there’s no upside, and the best way to demonstrate that is to punch in actual numbers and prove it’s a lemon.

Of course, I still punch in ‘what if scenarios.’ It allows me to project the results of various things I might do, to make a project more profitable.

I’m not gonna address the rest of what you posted, because it’s mainly excuses to fail.


Develop your skills more as a Real Estate Entrepreneur, and less as a real estate investor, and you’ll soon have your Trump on.

Some quick questions:

If something is 100% seller financed, why would it require any down payment?

If I don’t find apartment complex deals through realtors, where do I find them? Do I just drive around looking for them like the wholesalers do?

Also, what are the usual terms of seller financing? Is it closer to 30 years or closer to 5 years?

As far as the RV park… my “daddy” bought it for me and I’m about the most overpaid property manager on the planet.

And I spent the first 10 months on the job getting drunk with the tenants and having them rip me off for labor that probably didn’t even need to be done, but I was too drunk to notice.

But I’ve put it together over the last couple of months.

I am laughing my butt off at what you just posted…

Congrats for the honesty… :beer

Of course management rule No. 1, Don’t make friends with tenants. Ha!
And management rule No. 1.1, Don’t get drunk with the tenants. :anon

There’s several ways to find FSBO deals. All the ways, you’d uncover any deals, are necessary. Mostly direct mail, but also stale listings on every commercial classified advertising website. The operative word is “stale.” The ones you can get for free off of Loopnet, etc.

Depending on how fast you want to move, and how fast you intend to grow, is pretty much dictated by how much time and money you can invest digging for prospects.

At the beginning you won’t have much of a budget, so you work with what you’ve got and paddle as fast as you can.

You want to ultimately send direct mail every three months to select multifamily owners. You’ll have four different letters written. They all serve as introductions, but they include a different tip, article, or snippet of news about the multifamily investing; good, bad, or indifferent. You want to be welcomed as a friendly consultant to their business, and make yourself look like a knowledgeable asset, instead of a potential equity-stripping maggot they keep hearing from elsewhere.

Include the fact that you’re a private party representing a small partnership, that wants to add units to their portfolio. Include your name, phone, and then stop there (do not include your email).

Finally, the entire objective is to sifting for FSBO’s, that actually want to sell directly, and not through a broker.

What to say:

The more sophisticated investors will immediately contact you, to determine if you’re legitimate, and if so, perhaps invite you to make an offer.

Be prepared to answer the seller’s questions about your experience and background. This is what brokers offer sellers, before they even ask. That doesn’t include saying you’re a green horn manager that was getting drunk with your tenants until a week ago. I mean, come on! Rather, you learn to express things in a broader way, without being too definitive about it.

For example, “I manage my family’s RV park” is not the same as “I manage my dad’s eight-space trailer park.” If a seller gets suspicious that you’re a poser, you’re probably in front of the wrong seller anyway, and should wish him well, and welcome him to call you when he’s serious about selling.

Motivated sellers ask a lot fewer questions of someone who might be solving a problem for them.

As an aside, I stopped telling agents that I was a principal. I told them I was the glorified gopher for my partners, and that they had all the property and money. This removed the issue of whether I was personally trying to buy, and put me in a more collaborative atmosphere with the agent, because he had the same representation. You can do the same with seller. Tell them that you are the ‘deal finder’ and that your partners have the money. This undermines the seller trying to feel you out financially.

Build on the larger version of you, not the present one.

At the same time, this is not the time to blow smoke, and/or or make promises you can’t keep, like I’m a strong buyer, and I can pay all cash. Sure, Bud. Nobody offers to pay cash. Click.

These people are experienced negotiators and read people like the back of their hands. They can sense a poser, as fast as you can say, “I’m an investor.”

So, try to get the sellers to talk about themselves, their investments, and allow them to lead the conversation as much as you can. Put your “Colombo” investigator’s hat on. You know how Colombo would ask questions that seemed like an ‘aside’, and the suspects would eventually cough up answers that revealed a clue to their guilt.

Build rapport.

I was going to say hang up on the jackass sellers, but frankly if they’re jackasses to you, they’re jackasses to everybody, and who knows if you’re the one in line to pick up his steal deal, because he’s been a jackass to his managers, his maintenance guy, and his tenants, and now he’s reaping what he’s sown.

Which brings me to mention the value of mirroring the speech and movement of whomever you’re dealing with, in order to lower barriers and create rapport with these sellers. A seller may sense that your mirroring him, and that’s OK. That’s just part of the game and now he knows you can play ball, just like he does.

Don’t be surprised if they start treating you like family. This is what good agents and brokers attempt to do with their clients. This is another reason that attempting to steal deals from seasoned agents is kind of lost cause. These agents are like family to some of these seller, if they weren’t the ones to sell these hell holes to them in the first place.

One of my mentors suggested sending the owners pictures of their properties with trash all over the lawn, and what not, suggesting/reminding them what a management/maintenance hell hole they owned …in black and white, not color …and taken on an overcast day, so that the whole picture looks like it came from a scene from “Nightmare On Elm Street.” I have not done this, but always thought it was a fun idea to remind certain sellers what a mistake they made investing in that property…

You’re not interested in “usual terms.” You’re a real estate negotiator. You negotiate the terms you want. There’s no such thing as usual, except with brokers who are anxious to get paid, and long term agreements eat into their lunch money.

The rule of thumb on financing is as ‘cheap as possible, for as long as possible, if not cheaper and longer than that.’ Think ‘annuities’ when discussing seller financing, not ‘short term notes.’

I was being facetious when I mentioned not having the down payment for my 100% seller financed loan.

On my first, horribly negotiated, and yet ‘stolen’ deal, I put up 30% of the price, and the seller carried back 70%. So it wasn’t 100% seller financing, technically, but for ME, it was still 100% financing, because I borrowed the down payment at 9%, interest-only, opened ended, and the seller carried the balance at 7%, fixed, amortized over 84/mos.

Now, if I had known how to better negotiate even on an abject, unquestionable steal, I would have asked the seller what the current income was, what the utilities had been, and (at least) how many units were vacant, etc. etc.

Had I done that, the seller would have said, “I’m not sure, I don’t know, and I have no idea. I’ve only collected $1,600 in rents since I took over the building in foreclosure on the first of the month.”

I would’ve said, "OK Mr. Seller, you don’t know who’s in your building, you don’t know what the utility costs are yet, but you’ve collected approximately $1,600 in rents since you foreclosed on the first. I can probably expect to get another $1,600 after I take over the building, isn’t that right? (The seller has to agree, or he knows something I don’t know).

I continue, "You said the average rent was $300/mo per unit. And the income has been $1,600 so far. So if we divide $1,600 by $300, we come to about five and a half units paying rent. Well, the water and gas for each unit is going to run about $80/unit based on the norm. Five units times $80 is $400 in gas and water costs, not to mention the common electrical that we haven’t mentioned yet, which will be another $300/mo. based on a typical building like this. (The seller doesn’t argue, because he just got the electricity bill for last month, and it’s $500, but he’s not gonna share that, if he doesn’t have to. Why? Because sellers are liars.)

This leaves at most, if I don’t pay the electric bill, about $1,200. Then I have to pay the manager her $300. That brings the balance to $900. And then there’s taxes, which are $1,500/mo by themselves, and now I’m already underwater with everything by $600/mo, before I even think of paying the electricity bill, or you.

So, if I agree to give you 30% down, and then cover all this negative cash flow over the next year, and begin to rehab the vacant units, I’m going to be making two down payments. One to you, and one toward all the negative cash flow. The project can’t afford that many down payments."

That’s when I would have justified my ‘no down payment’ terms. Here I gave the seller a whole bunch of reasons not to give him the down payment, if I was to give him the monthly payments he wanted. Of course, it would have extended the amortization, since the balance of the loan would have become larger. No problem. All those downsides were made up on the price I was paying.

In that case, too, I used both the seller’s ignorance and the building’s performance against the seller, in order to negotiate the terms I wanted on this steal deal; no down and no credit check.

Alas, I rehearse that alternate history often.

You don’t have to buy 30 units. You can start smaller, of course, with five units, or ten, etc. You just don’t want to stop there. You want to have a goal of at least 30 units in relative proximity to each other, so that you can amortize your management costs over at least that many units. Frankly, a 30-unit building is ideal, but you start with what you can find, negotiate, and close on.

My second 18-unit project could have just as easily been my first, except that I wouldn’t have had the negotiating perspective I gleaned from the previous project, as I outlined already.

Save up your eggs, and be willing to crack them on your direct mail efforts. Start practicing your negotiations on loser deals. You know, the ones that aren’t gonna go anywhere? It takes the pressure off.

Hey! That’s what these agents are good for …making practice offers! Who knew?

Isn’t that’s exactly what I did, even if by accident? Sure. Yes, I pulled my punches when they asked for an earnest deposit, but several sellers were committed by that point, and I could have closed, if I had the courage to ask for seller financing, and had the guts to start asking for down payments, like I did after my 'Real Estate Entrepreneur" mindset transformation occurred, but I digress. And the agents were only concerned about being paid, and they could care less where my down payment came from, as long as they got paid at closing.

Never mind 50% of multifamily deals involve seller-financing of some sort or another… I might have mentioned this at the beginning of this ‘book.’


Thanks for the help.

The sites I know of are Loopnet and TotalCommercial.

As far as “direct mail,”… Direct mail to who?

How do I get the addresses in the first place?

Do I look at the county zoning map and drive through all areas that are zoned for apartment complexes?

Here’s a mobile home park for $2,975,000.

My next step is to contact the agent to get financials.

I’ll post them once I get them.

  • TotalCommercial sounds promising. There’s cityfeet, and others. Just google apartments for sale, and see what pops up.

  • What do you mean ‘direct mail to who?’ Apartment owners. (ie: family trusts, trusts, husband/wife, anything that suggests non-corporate-ownership by large companies)

  • I went to the county tax assessor’s office and asked if they sold property data lists of all the multifamily properties in the county and they did. It cost me $100, and I got EVERYTHING, and it was up-to-date. Yes, I had to sift through tons of raw data, and make sense out of it, but now I had the ammo I needed to start mailing.

From that raw data, I culled out the project sizes I wanted, and ignored the corporate-owned deals, which were mostly larger projects, and began mailing to everyone else.

Always request the data be sent in Excel format, not PDF, because you can’t sort PDF data, or merge the records with Word.

  • Don’t expect an avalanche of responses. That’s not how this works. You’re planting seeds, and establishing relationship; becoming familiar with sellers, and when the time is ripe, you’re the one they’ll call. You’ll get calls from time to time, and eventually from somebody who wants to rock and roll.

  • Why not find out who’s in court with evictions? Literally go down to the court and look for non-corporate eviction plaintiffs on the docket, and make contact with the plaintiffs, after they’ve been in front of the judge, and give them a card, and tell them you buy income properties. And after they tell you they don’t own any (wink wink, haha), you probe him for his interest in selling. Like with anything, this has to be consistently done, and not a one-off deal, where you cross your fingers, and hope to die.

  • County Tax Assessor not cooperative with property data? Create a mailing list by going to, and sifting for all the multifamily projects in your farm. You won’t find a critical mass of records, if you limit the records to say 50 units. So you may have to include smaller and smaller projects in order to come up with perhaps 300 addresses. You just have to experiment with your search criteria to see what’s there, and determine if you need to expand your geography, or include smaller and smaller deals to get a meaningful number of addresses.

(Call the list provider and verify the list is up to date — do this with any list provider)

  • Let the direct mail list be your deal locator. You could drive for dollars, and try to locate messy apartment buildings. Why not? Take down the building address, use it to locate the owners address, mail him a black and white photo of the drunken bum sitting in the driveway, and ask if he would be interested in selling his hell-hole.

  • Ask anyone you come across in your prospecting, if they know of anyone (else) who wants to sell their apartments. Apartment owners (and their managers) are often the first to hear about other owner/managers who want out. Another reason to keep in touch with the apartment owners/managers. Make friends. Pick their brains.

That’s all I got.

I think I can handle that.

The only question I have left is what are your usual terms that you ask for seller financing?

Do you usually go with 30 year terms?

I try to avoid having ‘usual terms.’ It pays to be nimble and unpredictable as a negotiator.

I find out what I want, after talking with the seller about what he wants. He wants his ridiculous price, so I start out by trying to give it to him. And that’s when I also state my ridiculous terms, to meet his ridiculous price, and than it becomes obvious to both of us, just how ridiculous our price and terms are, and thus a concession is born.

Never mind, no good negotiator presents a clean offer. That’s just stooopid.

Heavens no. We load our offer up with as many turds as we think are necessary, to get the seller to finally say, “What in Sam Hill are you thinking?” Then we take it a step, or two further, just to solidify the seller’s objections, so that any trade, or concession we make, is just that much more welcome to everyone involved.

That’s called ‘creating satisfaction in the deal.’ Or forcing the seller to feel good about being ‘equity-stripped.’ This can go both ways. A sophisticated seller can load up your front porch equally full of stenched-up, little, turd piles, and make you work to pay retail, if you’re not careful. I’ve been suckered a couple times, before I knew what was being done to me.

Which brings me back to point out that all sellers lie. Love it. Live it. Breathe it.

Meantime, again, maintaining “usual terms” is the same as negotiating with yourself. Nah, not gonna do it. (Said as George H.W. Bush).

Orange County, FL Property Appraiser → Parcel Search → Apartments → 831 listings → Download as MS Excel

Simple as that.


The only question I have now is… you refer to them as “sellers.”

Well most of the people on this list weren’t looking to sell until I asked them to sell.

But we’ll see what happens.

Do you have a rough draft of a letter that you send?

Just to go through an example, here’s one of the first ones on the list.

34 units. Appraised at $691,905.

I can’t ask for a financial statement for something that is not for sale, can I?

I have the mailing address of the owner, so I can write them that letter.

How do I know what my offer should be?

I once talked to a realtor about asking the previous owners how much they charged in rent, and he told that I should instead be worried about how much I think I can get out of it. I have had no problem charging above market rents in my RV park.

You know this may actually not be all that hard. There is a program called Macro Express that can take a task that is repeated on a computer and do it over and over at the push of one button. That can get that MS Excel sheet onto envelopes or emails or whatever.