By Kevin Salisbury, January 11, 2021
Purchasing a multi-family home offers a unique set of challenges, when compared to buying a single family residence — especially if you plan on occupying one or more of the units in the multiplex. Given the impact of the global pandemic, there are some additional challenges that buyers will face as well. Outlined below is a (non-exhaustive) list of things to consider and prepare for, if you would like to buy a multi-family home:
- You will likely have to write an offer before seeing the interior — If the multiplex is currently leased, there is a strong chance that all offers will need to be written “subject to interior inspection.” Meaning, you have to submit an offer (and have it accepted) prior to setting foot inside any of the units. This isn’t quite as scary as it sounds, though. If you walk through the units, and are not satisfied with what you see, you can attempt to renegotiate the terms of the offer, or simply terminate the agreement altogether. This type of requirement is usually in place to protect the tenants from having to vacate the premises over and over again for showings. Requiring all prospective buyers to submit an offer (and have it accepted) prior to viewing the interior, helps ensure that only the most serious buyers are being shown the property.
- Occupancy may have some challenges — If the current tenants are signed to long-term leases, any new owner of the property will be required to let those leases run their course. If you plan on occupying one or more of the units, this can provide some significant challenges, as most Lenders will require that you move into at least one of the units within 60-90 days of closing — otherwise they will consider it a purchase of an investment property. If the tenants are on month-to-month leases, they will still have to be given 90-days notice for a move-out date, so it’s important to negotiate all of these terms as part of the initial offer for the property.
- Inspection and Repair Considerations — When it comes time to inspect a multi-family property, there are a few additional things to consider. a) The inspection will likely take much longer than an inspection of a single-family home, and will also cost more. Both of these will of course depend on the number of units in the multiplex. b) The tenants are not required to move their furniture or personal belongings (nor can we make them) for the inspection. This might mean certain areas are not able to be inspected as thoroughly as we might like. c) The tenants are not required to leave for the inspection (nor can we make them), so there is always a chance that they are present for the duration of inspections. d) If repairs are needed, it may be easiest for all parties if these are handled through a credit or price reduction. Coordinating repairs, providing proper notice to tenants and working out access for contractors — that also fits with the tenants’ schedules — can prove quite difficult, so handling these items monetarily is often the most effective method.
- Seek guidance from a Real Estate Attorney — As a Realtor, I specialize in helping my clients buy and sell property. And while I have a loose grasp on a number of the laws regarding tenant’s rights, I am simply not qualified to provide legal advice on those matters. I strongly encourage my clients to speak with a Real Estate Attorney early on in the process, so as to ensure all rules and regulations are properly followed — especially when it comes to taking responsibility for vacating a tenant. It’s 100% worth the financial and time investment to do so. Trying to navigate these topics on your own is just not worth the risk in my opinion.
- The Pandemic Effect — Throughout the last year, there have been a number of eviction moratoriums and temporary rule changes when it comes to tenant’s rights. Having an understanding of which laws apply to the property you are interested in will prove critical for a successful purchase. Again, here is where I would defer to an Attorney to provide the proper guidance, which only underscores the importance of having a solid Real Estate Attorney on your team for this venture.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive of all the things to consider when buying a multi-family home in the Portland area, it’s a good start towards preparing yourself for this type of investment!
Broker | OR