In the article “How to Successfully Invest in Apartments,” the author outlines the steps and strategies needed to make profitable investments in the apartment market. They caution against following generic advice found on the internet, as it may lead to overpaying and lack of cash flow. The article emphasizes the importance of understanding income, expenses, and market cap rate when evaluating the value of a property. The author also introduces the four types of apartment investors (Builder, Holder, Exchanger, and Syndicator) and highlights the different skill sets and strategies required for each type. They conclude by emphasizing the need to verify information, set goals, and choose a good neighborhood when investing in apartment buildings.

In this video by Commercial Property Advisors, titled “How to Invest in Apartments Successfully,” Peter Harris shares his expertise on investing in apartment buildings. He begins by debunking common steps found on the internet and offers a more strategic approach to avoid overpaying and lack of cash flow. Harris introduces the four types of apartment investors and explains how each type requires a different skill set and strategy. He provides an example breakdown of a 24-unit apartment building’s income, expenses, and value to demonstrate the importance of understanding these factors. Harris concludes by emphasizing the need to consider past, present, and future performance, as well as setting goals and selecting the right type of investor.

How to Successfully Invest in Apartments

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Types of Apartment Investors

When it comes to apartment investing, there are several different types of investors you may encounter. Each type has its own approach, strategies, and goals. Understanding these different types can help you better identify your own investment style and align yourself with like-minded individuals.


The builder investor is someone who takes on the task of constructing new apartment buildings. They oversee the entire process, from acquiring the land to designing the layout to managing the construction crews. This type of investor thrives on the excitement and challenge of building something from the ground up. They often have extensive experience in real estate development and a deep understanding of construction costs and timelines.


The holder investor is someone who prefers to buy and hold onto apartment buildings for the long term. They typically look for stable, income-generating properties that they can rent out to tenants. The holder investor values cash flow and portfolio growth over quick profits. They are often patient and willing to weather the ups and downs of the real estate market in order to achieve their long-term financial goals.


The exchanger investor is someone who specializes in 1031 exchanges. This type of investor takes advantage of a tax code provision that allows them to defer capital gains tax by reinvesting the proceeds from a property sale into a like-kind property. The exchanger investor aims to maximize their capital gains tax savings and strategically build a portfolio of properties with increasing value and income potential.


The syndicator investor is someone who pools together funds from multiple investors to purchase larger apartment complexes. They act as the organizer and manager of the investment, handling everything from finding the property to overseeing the asset management. The syndicator investor leverages the collective resources of the group to acquire properties that may be out of reach for individual investors. They typically receive a share of the profits in exchange for their expertise and efforts.

Commonly Found Steps on the Internet

When researching apartment investing, you’ll likely come across various steps and strategies that are frequently mentioned by experts. While these steps can provide a good starting point, it’s important to approach them with caution and use them as a guide rather than a rigid blueprint. Here are a few commonly found steps and some potential pitfalls to be aware of:

Potential pitfalls

One potential pitfall is overpaying for a property. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a potential investment and overlook the true value of the property. Conducting thorough research, getting multiple appraisals, and carefully analyzing the property’s income potential can help you avoid overpaying.

Another pitfall is the lack of cash flow. If you’re not generating enough rental income to cover your expenses and mortgage payments, you’ll be left with a negative cash flow. This can quickly drain your resources and put you in a difficult financial position. Make sure to carefully evaluate the income potential of a property before making an investment.

Regret is another common pitfall. It’s important to take the time to understand your investment goals and risk tolerance before diving into apartment investing. If you don’t align your investment strategy with your personal goals and risk tolerance, you may end up regretting your decision later on.

Missing Piece in Successful Apartment Investment

While the commonly found steps on the internet provide a valuable framework, there are a few key factors that are often overlooked but essential for a successful apartment investment. These factors include:

Understanding income

One of the most important factors in apartment investing is understanding the potential income the property can generate. This includes not only the current rental income but also any future opportunities for rental growth. Understanding the rental market in the location you’re investing in, as well as the demand for rental units, can help you accurately project and maximize your income potential.

Understanding expenses

Equally important is a thorough understanding of the expenses associated with owning and operating an apartment building. This includes expenses such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs, property management fees, and utilities. By accurately estimating and accounting for these expenses, you can project your net operating income (NOI) and determine the overall profitability of the investment.

Understanding market cap rate

The market capitalization rate, or cap rate, is a key metric used in commercial real estate to assess the value of a property. The cap rate is calculated by dividing the property’s net operating income by its purchase price. By understanding the cap rate and how it compares to similar properties in the market, you can determine if a property is overpriced or undervalued.

Example Breakdown of a 24-unit Apartment Building

To further illustrate the importance of understanding income, expenses, and market cap rate, let’s break down a hypothetical 24-unit apartment building:


Let’s say each unit in the building can be rented out for $1,000 per month. With 24 units, the total potential monthly rental income would be $24,000. However, it’s important to consider factors such as vacancy rates and potential rent increases when projecting the overall income potential of the property.


The expenses of owning and operating the building can vary depending on factors such as location, age of the building, and amenities offered. Some common expenses include property taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and maintenance, property management fees, and marketing expenses. By accurately estimating these expenses, you can calculate your net operating income (NOI) and determine the profitability of the investment.


Once you have determined the NOI and have an understanding of the market cap rate for similar properties in the area, you can calculate the value of the property. The value can provide insights into whether the property is overpriced, undervalued, or priced accurately based on the income it generates.

How to Successfully Invest in Apartments

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Importance of Vacancy and Expense Estimates

When evaluating apartment properties, it’s crucial to carefully consider and estimate potential vacancies and expenses. Failing to accurately account for these factors can lead to unforeseen challenges and financial difficulties down the line. Here’s why vacancy and expense estimates are so important:

Ensuring cash flow

Vacancy rates can significantly impact the cash flow of an apartment investment. If you underestimate the potential vacancies, you may find yourself struggling to cover your expenses and mortgage payments. By carefully researching the rental market, considering historical vacancy rates, and factoring in any potential economic changes, you can create a more realistic projection of your cash flow.

Avoiding overpaying

Accurately estimating expenses is essential to avoid overpaying for a property. If you underestimate or overlook certain expenses, you may find that your projected cash flow is significantly lower than expected. This can put you in a tight financial position and diminish the profitability of the investment. Being thorough and detailed when estimating expenses will help you make a more informed and realistic offer on a property.

Evaluating Property Value

Assessing the value of an apartment building can be challenging, as it requires a combination of wisdom, experience, and understanding of the market. Here are some important factors to consider when evaluating the value of a property:


Wisdom gained through experience and knowledge in the real estate industry is invaluable when evaluating property value. Understanding market trends, rental demand, and economic factors can help you more accurately assess the value of a property. It’s important to continuously educate yourself and stay informed about changes in the real estate market.


Experience in apartment investing can provide valuable insights into property value. Learning from past successes and failures, understanding property appreciation patterns, and analyzing market data can help you make more informed decisions when evaluating the value of a property.

Track record

A track record of successful investments can also contribute to your ability to accurately evaluate property value. By reviewing your past investments and analyzing the outcome, you can identify patterns and trends that can guide your evaluation process. Additionally, having a strong track record can inspire confidence in lenders and potential partners.

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Considering the Performance of a Property

When considering an apartment property for investment, it’s important not to rely solely on brochures or seller claims. It’s essential to perform your own due diligence and thoroughly evaluate the property’s performance. Here are a few key considerations:

Don’t rely solely on brochures or seller claims

While brochures and seller claims can provide some initial information, it’s important to dig deeper and independently verify the information provided. Brochures are designed to highlight the positive aspects of the property and may downplay potential risks or challenges. By conducting your own research and analysis, you can gain a more accurate understanding of the property’s performance.

Importance of research

Thorough research is crucial to evaluating the potential performance of a property. Research can involve analyzing historical financial data, reviewing market trends and demographics, considering the neighborhood’s desirability, and investigating any local development plans or zoning changes. This research will help you make an informed decision and identify potential risks and opportunities.

Estimating potential rents

Understanding the potential rental income of a property is essential to evaluating its performance. By researching the local rental market and considering factors such as rental demand, competition, and amenities offered, you can estimate the potential rents for the property. This estimation will help you determine the income potential and overall profitability of the investment.

Calculating Net Operating Income (NOI)

The net operating income (NOI) is a key metric used in real estate investing to evaluate the profitability of a property. It represents the property’s total income after subtracting the operating expenses. Here’s how to calculate the NOI:

Potential income

Start by estimating the potential income of the property. This includes rental income, as well as any additional income sources such as laundry facilities or parking fees. Use realistic and conservative estimates to ensure accuracy.

Subtracting expenses

Next, subtract the operating expenses from the potential income to calculate the NOI. Operating expenses include property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, property management fees, and any other costs associated with operating the property.

By calculating the NOI, you can determine the cash flow potential of the property and assess its profitability. A higher NOI indicates a more profitable investment.

How to Successfully Invest in Apartments

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Property Value after a Couple of Years

After a couple of years of owning an apartment property, it’s important to reassess its value. Several factors can affect the property’s value over time, including changes in market conditions and the implementation of renovations or improvements. Here are a few considerations:

Estimated worth

By reviewing the property’s financial performance over the past couple of years and comparing it to similar properties in the market, you can estimate the current worth of the property. This can help you determine if the property has appreciated or depreciated in value.

Risk of overpaying and renovation

Reassessing the property’s value can also help you identify if you overpaid for the property initially or if renovations and improvements have had the desired impact. Adjusting your investment strategy based on the updated value can help you make more informed decisions moving forward.


When it comes to apartment investing, it’s crucial to verify information, set clear goals, and consider your investor type. Understanding the different types of apartment investors, the commonly found steps on the internet, and the missing pieces in successful apartment investments can all contribute to making more informed decisions. By thoroughly evaluating property income, expenses, and market cap rate, as well as considering vacancy and expense estimates, property value, and performance, you can increase your chances of success in the apartment investing arena. Remember to continuously educate yourself, seek advice when needed, and align your investment strategy with your personal goals and risk tolerance.

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