Which to buy?


I am a first time investor looking to buy a rental. I have 3 properties I am trying to decide between to make an offer. Below are list prices.
122,000 3BR house on campus rents at 1050/month. Is 51+ years old but remodeled in 2005 after a fire.

235,000 4 plex 2BR units. rent is 2200/month. Is nearest to my house

2 condos 84,900 each, next to each other 3 BR 750 month rent.

My realtor suggested the following offers: 110,000 on the campus house, 220,000 on the 4 plex and 140,000 on the 2 condos.

Any suggestions?



Hi Kelli!

Could you share more of the specific numbers? How do you know these are good deals? How many other properties have you looked at? What are the comps?

What about your situation? Which of these numbers made the most sense to you?

One last idea, try to put offers in on all of them, if they are indeed good deals. If they’re all accepted, then perhaps you’re offering too much money. Or your realtor is really, really good at selling. :biggrin Also, even if they are all accepted, you then get to choose which you want the most.

Either way, good luck! please keep us updated!!

Happy New Year!

Do any of these even have a positive cash flow after ALL expenses?



I am a professional investor therefore I buy real estate like professional investors. If I am seeking a rental (Portfolio) property to rent / lease I am still looking to try to buy it at as close to a 30% discount as possible, now because I am going to own it long term I don't have to acquire it at 30% or more in discount, but the numbers have to work and I have to feel the price is appropriate for market and that I will be making a profit!

Let’s go backwards, unless you have all cash and you can finance your end buyer as an exit strategy on a condo, don’t buy it! Condo’s are very hard to get financing on as lenders won’t make loans on units in complexes where there is more than xx% rented within the property. Even though ratio’s may be great today does not mean in 7 to 10 years 40% of all unit’s are rented and no lender will make mortgage loans on those unit’s!

The only time I ever have advocated buying condo’s as an investor is when you can buy a unit cheap for $10k to $15k and recover your whole cash purchase price in less than 3 years where owning it has little of your cash tied up and you are making a great return reguardless of whether you can sell it in 7 to 10 years to get out of it. You may only be able to re-sell it with owner financing depending on availability of mortgage financing.

Four plex at $235k, well even though this property is classified as resdidential property (1-4 Units) it is assessed on basically the same basis as multi unit commercial property (5-5000 units) and the 50 / 50 rule basically applies! You don’t say whether your income statement of $2200 has been adjusted for a vacancy factor or not but let’s for conversation say that $2200 is net. So half of $2200 is $1100 dollars for expenses and $1100 for debt service.

$13,200 - Expenses
$ 1,320 - Management
$ 800 - Property Insurance
$ 1,000 - Property Taxes
$ 2,400 - Water and Sewer
$ 720 - Trash
$ 380 - Lawn Care
$ 300 - Winter Sidewalk Shoveling
$ 1,000 - Maintence
$ 1,400 - Appliance Reserve
$ 3,200 - Long Term Replacement Reserve
$ 400 - Legal
$ 200 - Advertising
$ 120 - Office Supplies

$13,240 - Total Expenses

$13,200 - Debt Service
$11,928 - Principle and Interest @ 5.25% Non Owner Occupied for $180k 1st Trust Deed

$ 1,272 - Positive income
$< 40> - Expense over budget

$1,232 - Net Positive Cash Flow

Now this 4 plex is not bad however it should be purchased cheaper! You would be putting up $45,000 with $1,232 return for your cash on cash and no positive cash flow. This is only a 2.75% cash on cash return - not much better than a bank!

Now the fire damaged and rebuilt home is probable best as it only takes $25k to buy, and it looks like it would positive cash flow roughly $50 to $75 per month after expenses and debt service. The somewhat down side to fire damage is you will need to disclose it when you sell it.

I would start at $95k as an offer on this property and try to get it closer to $100k or between this and your number of $110k!

Good Luck,


Great post GR. Is there a way to add single posts to favorites?

Yes, I suggest you get a new Realtor!

Has Gold River pointed out, investment purchases should be based on what you want out of it (like income!). You must run the numbers and find out where your max offer would be.

Your agent is basing their suggestion off of the list price, which is working the wrong way. It doesn’t matter what they’re asking, only what you’re willing to offer.

I would make an offer on all of them. When I am buying I look at all the houses in my area that meet my criteria. I then make an offer on each one of them. Since you are not going to get all the offers accepted (in my case only about 10% of them get accepted) you have to make enough offers to get one accepted. I make the offer and keep going. Later I get a call from the realtor that says your offer was accepted. I then ask him on which house. I want any of the houses I make offers on at my price.

Thanks so much for all the good suggestions.

Several properties I am looking at are for sale by owner. Should I deal directly with the owner to negotiate with a formal offer or through a lawyer or real estate agent?

I called a lawyer that was recommended and he said usually people come to a verbal agreement on the price, then draw up the formal contract.

Thanks for your help.


Another question on making offers:

Bluemoon suggested making offers on all of them. But if someone accepts your offer, aren’t you bound to go through? Or how do you structure them so that you can pick which you do?

Thanks for your help.


The lawyer should not get involved with the negotiations on price. He’s a lawyer…not your Realtor. A lawyer dealing with real estate can close your deal for you. You should be able to get a blank contract from the lawyer to use. If these properties are all FSBO, bringing a Realtor into the deal to do paperwork just costs you more for the house and means less money for the seller.
As far as offers go…once an offer is accepted, you should put the agreed terms in writing on the contract. You will then be “under contract” and in your due diligence period to inspect the property, have the lawyer do title work to ensure the title is free of any encumberances, etc. You can put contingency clauses in the contract about your ability to get financing and various other “escape” clauses. This will give you an out if you need it. Be advised though that if you back out of several deals, you will soon develop a reputation as someone who cannot close a deal. That could cause you problems for buying other properties.
Finally - my opinion is that all of these asking prices are far too high for the amount of rent involved. I would not even consider any of them unless there was substantial room to work the price down or if the current rent is way too low for the market. These deals seem to be “Realtor math” where Realtors will pretty much label anything a cash flowing deal if it’s their listing.
Don’t buy something just to be buying something.

I am using the numbers that Gold River posted for expenses to evaluate more properties. I am wondering if you get a 30 year loan when you buy a new property? or a 15 year loan?



Our first deal was amortized over 15 yrs. Almost all of our other deals are 10 yr loans.

All of my offers have a 10 to 30 day inspection clause. What I do is reject any houses I don’t want based on my inspection.

I never get more than one offer accepted. If I did I would be offering too high.

What is the potential for “appreciation”… I know it hasn’t been possible to look that far ahead, but I would rather buy close to asking price in a good area that has upside potential, than to get the cheapest deal avaiable

I agree with Gold River excellent example. Its all in the numbers, if it doesn’t make sense don’t buy it or get it as cheap as you can to make the numbers work.

If you can’t anticipate appreciation, then real estate investing is a “zero sum game” Whatever net income you received devided by the time you spend managing your investment will quickly make you an “unhappy” participant. It’s the chance to make a killing with 50% to 100% appreciation over 3 to 5 years that makes investors take the risk.