Victor’s Insider Scoop on Top Dollar Sales Strategies for Selling Your Multi-family Property
October 19th, 2012 | top of page
Too often I’ve seen apartment owners marketing their properties before they’re adequately prepared.
And don’t think only apartment owners fall into this trap. Many so called “multi-family brokers” take a shotgun approach to marketing an unsuspecting client’s apartment by not taking the proper steps to assure their clients receive “Top Dollar” offers for their properties.
If you want to attract “Top Dollar” offers, there are the 5 essential steps you must take before bringing your multi-family property to market.
1. Know Your Market
2. Know How Your Apartment Compares To The Current Market
3. Make It Known That Your Apartment Is For Sale
4. Create Some Financing Options For Buyers
5. Create a Comprehensive Information Package Including:
- Last Full Year Profit & Loss Statement By Month
- Current Year To Date Profit & Loss Statement By Month
- Trailing 3 Months Rent Roll
- Financial Pro-Forma
- List of Last 24 Months Capital Expenditures
- Current Loan Information & Loan Documents (If Assumable), and/or
- Current Loan Quotes from Credible Lenders
- Breakdown of Unit Type & Size, Current Asking Rents and Current Rent Concessions (if any)
- List of Property Amenities Including Pictures
- Narrative Summary of Your Apartment
1. KNOW YOUR MARKET
Before putting your apartment on the market, the first thing you need to do is learn what the current market is for multi-family properties in your area.
What have properties of a similar class and condition, located in similar neighborhoods, with the same type of unit mix as your apartment sold for during the last 12 months?
Have prices been stable, going up, or declining?
Are the sales you are looking at “Distressed Sales” or true “Arms-Length Transactions”?
Was financing provided by the seller? Were the purchases for all cash? Was the apartment financeable at time of purchase? If so, was this traditional debt or “hard money”? (Note: distressed properties generally can’t be financed with traditional debt—they can only be financed with “hard money” until the property is stabilized).
How many competing apartments are on the market now? What’s their current pricing compared to their trailing 12 months NOI?
It’s important you know this information so you have a benchmark of what level of pricing you can expect to achieve before you put your apartment on the market.
Now remember, your pricing won’t necessarily be limited to what others got for their apartments. Our recommended strategies show you the steps you need to take to attract “Top Dollar” offers.
It’s important to know what the current market is and has been because you can be sure that prospective buyers will know this information. You just have to know how to use this information to your advantage. We’ll explain this to you in the following sections.
Most good real estate brokers that specialize in multi-family properties have this type of information available and will provide it to you free of charge in the hope that you’ll consider using them when and if you decide to list your apartment for sale. When getting this information from them be sure to request the raw data and not just a summarized BPO (Broker Price Opinion). Many brokers use BPOs as a marketing tool. Some brokers issue unrealistically high BPOs to prospective sellers in the hope that they’ll be encouraged to list with them. Later, after securing the listing and bringing the apartment to market at an unrealistically high price, the apartment lingers on the market and eventually the broker encourages the owner to reduce the price to a realistic sales price because “the market has spoken” through a number of offers all of which were well below the original BPO price.
2. KNOW HOW YOUR APARTMENT COMPARES TO THE CURRENT MARKET
It is one thing to know the current market. It is another to know how your apartment compares to the current market.
Be realistic in your assessment of your current apartment!
Look at your apartment through the eyes of a prospective buyer. Don’t fool yourself into believing your apartment has attributes it doesn’t have and doesn’t have the flaws it has.
Too often apartment owners aren’t realistic when it comes to assessing how their apartment compares to the current market.
For example, an owner with a Class C complex with significant deferred maintenance in a marginal neighborhood mistakenly compares their apartment to Class B properties with little deferred maintenance in good neighborhoods.
Trust me; this type of comparison will only cause you frustration and disappointment.
Assessing your apartment for what it really is will allow you to correctly evaluate at the same comparable data that your potential buyers will be looking at when they’re evaluating your apartment.
Knowing this information will allow you to make the critical evaluation: Is the true market value of your apartment a price that you would be willing to sell your property for? If not, there’s no sense going through the whole sales cycle trying to sell your apartment. You’ll go through a lot of work only to wind up disappointed and frustrated.
Now remember, your pricing won’t necessarily be limited to what others got for their apartments. By following the steps we’re listing we’ll be showing you how to attract “Top Dollar” offers. With that being said, if comparable sales under similar marketing conditions show a market value of $30k per unit don’t think you can market your apartment successfully for $45k per unit. No matter how effective your marketing campaign is, it’s NOT going to create gold out of lead.
3. MAKE IT KNOWN THAT YOUR APARTMENT IS FOR SALE
Often apartment owners seem to think it is better to “keep it a secret” that their property is for sale. They’re afraid that tenants, employees, competitors, or their lenders will learn the deep, dark secret that they’re looking to sell their apartment.
By keeping the fact that you’re interested in selling your apartment a secret, you’re not allowing your property to be exposed to the maximum number of potential buyers. Exposing your apartment to the maximum number of potential buyers gives you the best chance of finding the buyer that’s willing to pay “Top Dollar” for your property.
There are always buyers out there that need to complete a transaction and are willing to pay more than the next guy because they have to complete a 1031 exchange, they need to buy more units in a particular area to reach a certain economy of scale for their operations, they want to establish a footprint in a particular market, they have to place their investors’ money or they will lose it to another syndicator, or any number of other reasons.
By keeping your apartment’s marketing campaign a secret, you’re often missing out on these buyers leaving yourself to a limited pool of buyers that are “in the know” and are often are looking for bargains and are used to paying “bottom feeder prices” for their purchases.
So what’s the downside if tenants, employees, competitors, or lenders find out your apartment is for sale?
Unless you have a very small apartment (say 20 units or less) and manage it yourself, it’s unlikely you’ve developed any type of strong personal relationship with your tenants that would make them want to leave should they learn your’re intending to sell your apartment. If you’ve developed good relationships with the tenants, it’s better that you talk to them directly and let them know what’s going on as opposed to letting them hear a rumor—and trust me they will hear it through the grapevine no matter how secret you try to keep it.
Who knows, by talking to your tenants directly, one may have a rich uncle or someone they know is looking to invest in a multi-family property.
At the very least, talking to your tenants gives you opportunity to assure them that you’re looking to sell your apartment to an investor that shares your philosophy of good tenant service and pride of ownership management.
For larger apartment complexes, tenants often don’t know or care who the owner is as long as the tenants are getting their needs met.
As for employees finding out, no matter what you do the employees will find out. And, if they don’t find out from you, they’ll feel betrayed.
If your employees work for a property management company you hired to manage your apartment, the employees will continue to perform well hoping to convince the new owner to hire their company to manage the apartment or proving to their property management company that if your apartment sells, they are worthy employees who warrant being transferred to another complex managed by that property management company.
If your apartment is “self-managed” and you’re afraid your employee will leave you before you’ve sold the property, it’s much better to make that employee part of the selling process. Let them know what’s going on. Encourage them that by demonstrating to potential buyers that they’re doing a good job, the new owner might consider hiring them. Paying this employee a small bonus to assure they stay around is often a small price to pay for having a well-run apartment during the selling process.
As for competitors finding out you are selling—SO WHAT! What damage can they do to you knowing this information? And who knows, competitors can be your best buyers. They may want to increase their footprint in a particular market area so they can achieve certain economies of scale. As such, they may be willing to pay more than the next guy so they can achieve long-term cost savings.
As for lenders finding out, again, SO WHAT! If you’re paying their monthly loan payments, they have nothing to say about it. If you’re not making your monthly payments they’ll be happy to get their loan paid off by a new buyer.
4. CREATE SOME FINANCING OPTIONS FOR BUYERS
This does not necessarily mean you should consider providing a buyer with seller financing. Although this is a strategy to achieve “Top Dollar” for your apartment, it’s not advisable unless you are truly a sophisticated investor and have the financial wherewithal to handle it.
What this means is talk to some mortgage brokers and get an idea of what kind of loans and rates would be available to a credible buyer for your apartment based on its current performance.
Surprisingly, many buyers are unaware of available financing rates and opportunities. Having this information at hand to give to potential buyers when they’re looking at your apartment allows buyers to evaluate purchasing your property for cash or with the use of cash and debt.
Often, the use of debt in a purchase can allow a buyer to pay a higher amount for the apartment due to the increased cash-on-cash return gained through the use of leverage and the conservation of cash.
In summary, make it easy for the buyer and do some of his homework for him. It can often mean the difference between a sale or no sale.
5. CREATE A COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATION PACKAGE
I cannot stress enough the importance of making it easy for the buyer to buy your apartment.
Buyers are often evaluating many properties at the same time. The more information you’ve provided during the evaluation process, the easier it is for them to make a decision in your favor. This is especially true if they’re dealing with an unprepared seller on a competing apartment.
So what information is important to a buyer? Here are three key things buyers will look for in Historic Financial Information
1. Last Full Year Profit & Loss Statement By Month
2. Current Year To Date Profit & Loss Statement By Month
3. Trailing 3 Month Rent Roll
Having this information available to your buyer upfront, allows them to evaluate your apartment’s performance. If there are items in this financial information that present your operations in a bad light, this is your opportunity to provide some narrative discussion as to what happened and how the situation was or can be corrected.
Sophisticated and qualified buyers will want this historic financial information or they’ll walk away from the deal unless they can get the apartment at such a low price that they’ll overlook some things. Since you’re looking for buyers who pay “Top Dollar” it’s better to provide them this historic financial information upfront and explain any “unusual” items with a good narrative so they can make an informed decision on your apartment.
Laying out the information in an orderly manner and explaining any issues will help the buyer to see your apartment in its best light will help the buyer through the evaluation process quicker and allow them to look at your property favorably instead of as a lot of hard work to consummate a questionable deal.
Prepare a financial pro-forma for the buyer based on stabilized operations. For any income items that are improved over historic financial data, explain why the future numbers will be higher. For any expense items lower than historic financial data explain why the future numbers will be lower.
It’s OK for pro-forma financial data to look better than historic performance as long as there are logical reasons to back this up. The more convincingly you explain the upside, the more likely the buyer will accept them in their analysis. And, unless you’re selling to a REIT that’s happy with a stable 5.5% return, all buyers like to believe they’re smarter than you and can improve the bottom line. So show them the way!
List of Previous 24 Months’ Capital Expenditures
Providing the buyer with this list upfront will highlight to the buyer what capital expenditures they will not have to make upfront. Without highlighting this information to the buyer, the buyer will often overlook giving you credit for items that you spent money on to improve the apartment and include the same items in their estimates of what their initial capital expenditure requirement will be, thus lowering their effective offering price to you.
Current Loan Information & Loan Documents (If the loan is assumable)
An assumable loan is often an enticing selling tool especially if it’s at or near market rates. If the current debt on the apartment is assumable (and you can be released from any future loan liability), readily provide the buyer with this information so they can include it as part of their analysis.
Current Loan Quotes From Credible Lenders
Talk to some mortgage brokers and document of what kind of loans and rates would be available to a qualified buyer for your apartment based on its current performance. This will really set you apart from an owner who’s just “testing the waters” and show a buyer that you’re serious about selling your apartment. I repeat again: Do some of the buyer’s homework for him; make the decision to buy your apartment an easy one for the buyer to arrive at.
Breakdown of Unit Type & Size & Current Asking Rent & Rent Concessions
Make it easy for the buyer to get a clear picture of the income picture as it currently stands. Again, the easier you make it for the buyer to make a decision, the closer you will come to consummating a sale.
List of Apartment Amenities Including Pictures
Often unless you point them out, a buyer can easily overlook important Property Amenities that can add to the value of your apartment. This is the opportunity to highlight your property’s amenities to the buyer in a clear and concise format.
Narrative Summary of Your Apartment
This is probably the most important (and most overlooked) document you must provide to a prospective buyer. This is your opportunity to bring together all the data and provide a concise summary of the advantages of your apartment and to truly sell the buyer on why your property is worth “Top Dollar”.
Starting with an overview summary of your apartment, here is where you talk about the physical layout of your property (i.e. unit mix and unit count, size of property in acres, etc.), year constructed, any unique physical attributes (i.e. lakefront, on a golf course, ponds, mountain views, etc.).
Next is a quick discussion about the property’s location (i.e. neighborhood attributes, proximity to employment, public transportation, highways, shopping, entertainment, restaurants, etc.).
Then list the apartment’s amenities and a quick recap of recent capital improvements.
Add a financial summary of your apartment highlighting things like total sale price, sale price per unit, CAP Rate based on current operating data and Pro-Formas, ROI, etc.
Finally, take the best selling points of your apartment and summarize them. Highlight the reasons your property is unique and a good investment for the buyer. Show the buyer why they should purchase your apartment over all others on the market?
For more Top Dollar Sales Strategies For Selling Your Multi-Family Property, leave a Reply below or call me at 602 320.6200.
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PS – If you are ready to begin to thrive again by getting off the sidelines and putting your money to work give me a call at 602-320-6200. I see lots of deals and may have just what you are looking for.