In a recent article, I talked about the value of multi-family real estate in the current economy. Does the same reasoning apply to commercial apartments? You bet it does as, after all, apartments are just larger examples of multi-family real estate investments. The primary differences between what one would commonly call multi-family real estate and apartments relate to the number of units.

Apartments, at least by my definition, are buildings with eight or more rental units. This is technically multi-family but, when I think of multi-family dwellings, I’m thinking more of two, three, or 4-unit buildings. Why is this difference significant? It has to do with volume of inventory. In most markets, there are large numbers of multi-family buildings and comparatively fewer apartments. See the difference?

The ramifications for you are that to effectively evaluate, make offers on, and select apartments as investments, you are much more likely to need to move out of your primary real estate market to find the kind of deal that meets your criteria as a real estate investor. You might have several dozen multi-family buildings to choose from in your market (among those listed for sale), but only 2-3 apartment buildings, making the ability to play the numbers game a little harder to play.

Here’s the good news. There is a high volume of motivated sellers of apartment buildings, when you expand your search nationwide. With the ability to check out properties online, there are few markets that are out of bounds, and you can tackle the numbers game issue I just alluded to by embracing modern technology.

Naturally, there are also some fundamental principles of apartment investing that you will also need to consider. Is there a demand for rental real estate right now? You bet there is, especially given all of the recent economic challenges face in our country.

Are there good deals on apartments to be had? Also, yes. Because apartments are valued on their income, recent economic challenges have tended to deflate apartment building values across the country, making it an ideal time for you to strike as an investor, and pick up some bargains.

It seems as though apartment hunting in Los Angeles could easily be a full time job. With the economy as it is there are many more vacancies than usual. California has recently experience its highest unemployment rate since World War II. Real estate is viewed as a pinnacle of indicating economic trends and thus far it is viewed as very unstable in the Los Angeles and entire California area. With the instability, the choices for apartments increase as does the negotiating influence of the apartment hunter.

The cost of living in Los Angeles is estimated to be approximately 33 percent higher than that of the national average. It is not cheap to live the City of Angels. Depending upon where you get your statistics from, the average rent could be anywhere from $735 to $1680. You have to realize how large L.A. is and what a variety of lifestyles there are in one city. There is extravagant living in the upscale communities like Malibu and Santa Monica. There is also much more economical living in Long Beach and Glendale. This one city occupies more space than the smallest state in the United States.

Who Can Help?

Although not all real estate agents actively participate in the rental industry, there are many that do. It may prove well worth your while to seek out a reputable realtor to assist you with this project. Ask around to find a reputable realtor. If you are brand new to the Los Angeles area and simply have no one to ask, be certain to ask for references when you contact a realtor. Don’t stop at asking for references, but actually follow through and contact the references.

When you contact the realtor’s references, don’t be timid in questioning the reference. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

· Are you related to the realtor and how do you know him?
· How long have you worked with this realtor?
· Have you ever worked with any other realtor and please compare?
· What services did the realtor provide to you?
· Have you particularly worked with the realtor regarding rentals?

Get the Best Realtor

Once you’ve collected a list of potential realtors, interview the realtor? Find out how many renters he has helped find a home recently. How many landlords does he work with? Do you have to sign any kind of agreement to secure his help? What kind of fees are there and who pays them?

With the smorgasbord of rentals now available, you may find that you have the ability to negotiate the price of rentals down, have the first month’s rent waived, reduce the security deposit, etc. If you decide to work through a realtor to filter your selection down a bit, be sure that they understand what you are looking for and that you intend to secure the best possible deal. A highly respected realtor can significantly reduce your legwork involved in finding a great deal on a rental.