Ever wonder how the top producing commercial real estate and multifamily brokers have gotten to where they are?
Sure, hard work, perseverance and ongoing education are critical parts of the equation…
But, brokers also rely on their strategic approach to get ahead of the competition.
That’s especially true when considering a sector as competitive as multifamily.
The most successful multifamily brokers are those that find and create their own opportunities (seemingly out of thin air), and close deals that wouldn’t even exist for others.
One way that they’re doing that is by incorporating property intelligence into their deal-making pursuit.
Below, we’ll guide you through the ways in which property intelligence helps brokers identify sellers, analyze properties, and build masterful pitch scripts for owners.
Mastering the Process of Multifamily Deal-Making
Throughout each section, we include detailed examples to show how you can apply these tips to your own pursuit of new business.
Identifying Multifamily Sellers with Property Intelligence
Many brokers will cold call property owners, and to some extent, that strategy works.
But these brokers will have to make dozens, even hundreds of calls before connecting with an owner who might be interested in selling their property.
Property intelligence allows commercial real estate brokers to be more targeted with their outreach.
Let’s say you’re a relatively new broker looking to become the “go to” multifamily broker in a specific market.
Let’s assume that you’re focused on larger multifamily properties in Minneapolis.
You could start by using Reonomy to narrow down multifamily property owners that meet your criteria, as shown below.
You can further refine the search results to show only properties with 50 or more units.
Now, it’s important to note that with properties of this scale, owners tend to be a bit more sophisticated.
Some owners may be institutions or groups.
Before you contact anyone, it’s crucial to have your research fully buttoned-up and your point of contact figured out.
You’ll want to learn as much about that property, the owner, and relevant comps that may be used to engage decision-makers in a conversation about selling.
Take a look at this property, as example: It’s a 78-unit apartment building that was built in 2013 and has not sold since then.
Given the timing of when the property was stood up (just as the real estate market was recovering), the property has likely appreciated in value.
To be sure, you can look for real estate comps in the area to see what other assets are selling for.
A good way to compare properties is to look at sales price on a per-unit basis.
Let’s say nearby properties with units in similar condition are trading for approximately $275,000 per unit…
Even if you were being conservative and backed this down to $225,000 per unit, you could safely assume the 78-unit project would sell for $17.5 million or more.
That’s good info to have before approaching the owner about selling the property.
Let’s take it one step further.
With Reonomy property intelligence, we can see that the owners took out a $2.35 million loan on the property back in February 2018. The loan is set to mature in May 31, 2020.
As many brokers well-know, owners tend to be the most motivated to sell when their loan is slated to mature.
Still, that’s not always the case: Sometimes a multifamily owner will simply recapitalize the property instead of selling.
If you’re a broker who works for a more prominent brokerage firm, you have the opportunity to approach this seller with someone from your capital markets team.
You can collectively prepare to discuss selling and refinancing options with the owner.
This positions you and your team, as a full-service operation that can help with an array of potential needs. At a minimum, you’ll pique the seller’s interest.
So, now you’d like to reach out to the owner, but aren’t sure:
- A) Who the right person to contact is.
- B) What their contact details are.
The property is held in an LLC. Surprise, surprise.
It used to be difficult to find the names and contact information for those behind an LLC—which is where Reonomy property intelligence comes further into play.
Reonomy provides detailed information about LLCs.
In this case, we can see that the LLC is owned by someone who lives in-state. We also easily found the owner’s name, phone number(s) and email address.
Before contacting the owner, let’s use property intelligence to take our due diligence even further.
Let’s see if that person owns any other property in the area.
Beyond a single asset, you should always be confident in speaking to an owner’s entire portfolio.
The more you know, the better you’ll understand potential motivations to sell or refinance (or not!). You might also happen upon a scenario where the owner is looking to sell multiple assets at once.
So, let’s revisit your search from above…
Clear all filters and, this time, search by ownership. You can search either by the owner of record (in this case, the LLC) or by the owner mailing address.
Sometimes LLCs are specific to an individual property—for example, 123 Broadway might be held by 123 Broadway LLC whereas 789 Main Street is owned by 789 Main Street LLC.
That’s why it’s helpful to search by the owner’s mailing address.
Many owners will have multiple LLCs but each of those LLCs will be registered to the same mailing address.
In this case, it seems as though the owner truly only has the one multifamily property—the 78-unit apartment building in Minneapolis.
That’s good to know. It tells us that the owner may be interested in trading up into a larger or higher-valued multifamily property.
On a higher level, it tells us that a successful pitch could convince the owner to sell.
In that case, in winning this owner’s business, you have the opportunity to represent them as both buyer and seller in two separate transactions.
You’ll have only a few moments to capture the owner’s attention, however, which introduces the importance of crafting a masterful call script before reaching out.
Creating a Masterful Call Script for Property Owners
Unlike an email, which can easily be deleted, getting someone on the phone is the best way to open a dialogue and build rapport with a property owner.
Again, you only have so long to grab the seller’s attention, but when done successfully, gets your foot in the door immediately.
Here are a few tips for creating your script:
- Start by introducing yourself, including your name and the company you work for.
- Be transparent about why you’re calling. You don’t have to be blatant and say, “I’m calling to see if you want to sell.” Instead, consider a softer approach. “I’ve been working with many multifamily owners in this area and wanted to introduce myself.”
- Highlight the research you’ve done. This will show that you’re a thoughtful broker. “I see that you’ve owned a 78-unit apartment building on Silbey Memorial since 2013. If I have this right, it looks like you may have built the project yourself.”
- Get the owner to tell you a bit about their experience with the property. “You sure had great timing, building this back in 2013! How’s the property been performing for you?”
- Showcase your knowledge about the local market. “There’s been a lot of construction activity in the area over the past year or two, with several 100+ unit apartment buildings coming online. Have you considered expanding your portfolio?”
- Note the services you (and your company) offer. “I work on the multifamily sales side, but my team is really a full-service shop. For instance, we have debt brokers, in-house property managers, project managers for clients doing new construction projects and asset managers who work with owners to optimize their portfolios.”
- Try to get the owner to meet in person. “I appreciate you taking the time to chat. We should grab lunch sometime – I’ll come to you. What’s your schedule like next week?”
- Wrap-up with a promise to follow-through on any promises made during the call. “Let me put together a few comps for you based on recent sales in the area. I’ll shoot those over to you by the end of the week.”
This bullet points above are the nuts and bolts of what to include in your cold calling script. Each script should then be refined based on what you know about the property owner and their portfolio. Here’s a more detailed look at what a script might look like based on the 78-unit apartment we’ve been discussing thus far.
BROKER: Hi, is this Michael? [Yes]. Hi Michael, my name is Sarah Smith. I’m a multifamily broker with Minneapolis Realty Advisors. I’ve been seeing a lot of activity in the North Loop area lately so I thought I’d reach out. Do you have a few minutes to chat?
OWNER: Sure, but only a few minutes.
BROKER: Great, I’ll be respectful of your time. So hey, I noticed you have a 78-unit apartment building on 5th Street. If I have this right, you built that back in 2013?
OWNER: Yes, that’s right.
BROKER: Wow, you had great timing, though I imagine it was nerve-wracking at the time. How’s the property been performing for you?
OWNER: It’s gone really well, actually. I could have never experienced the rent growth that we’ve realized over the past six years. Vacancy remains low and the property seems to have appreciated well in value.
BROKER: You’re spot on. I was looking at a few comps in the area and apartment buildings are now selling for close to $275,000 per unit. You can’t build them for that price anymore! Any thoughts on long-term plans for the property? Have you considered rolling the equity into this property into another one? There are a number of newly-built multifamily properties coming to market. Once stabilized, I’m sure they’ll be offered for sale. I’m actually working with one developer that’s supposed to be wrapping up a 150-unit project next spring – you probably know it. It’s the Hawthorne, the project coming online just two blocks north of you.
OWNER: Yea, I know the project. It looks beautiful. But my basis for this property is so low, and I don’t see any way I’d be able to afford the Hawthorne. I’m sure that’ll be selling for $50+ million or more.
BROKER: You’re absolutely right, but don’t underestimate yourself. I’d bet that you have enough equity in your building to roll into the project and still maintain a 75% loan-to-value ratio that most banks look for these days. Are you familiar with 1031-exchanges?
OWNER: I’ve heard of them, but frankly don’t know much about them.
BROKER: It’s one of the best tools in the industry, and how most commercial real estate investors grow their portfolios. Essentially, the program allows you to sell your property and roll the proceeds into a new property without having to pay capital gains tax. It saves you a boat load of money, while allow you to trade up in to a more valuable asset.
OWNER: Wow, no capital gains tax, huh? Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I’ve never wanted to sell this place. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point. It took every penny to my name to get this project off the ground back in 2013—I’m not interested in paying back Uncle Sam just yet.
BROKER: I don’t blame you! Hey, it seems like there’s a lot we could talk about. I’d be happy to walk you through the 1031-exchange program over lunch one day. If you’re up for it, we could even do some preliminary underwriting to see if something like the Hawthorne project makes sense for you. I’d be happy to come your way. I have it in my notes that you’re in St. Paul – is there a good restaurant by you? Lunch on me, just name a place and time!
As you can see, the broker utilized many forms of property intelligence – including specific property information (year built, location, number of units, etc.), property owner information, comps, transaction history (or lack thereof), etc. – to make a powerful first impression with the owner. The “cold call” was much more effective than someone calling an owner blindly without any of this detail.
H2. Creating More Effective Emails through Property Intelligence
Most brokers prefer to get multifamily owners on the phone. But let’s say you’ve tried calling the owner on three or four different occasions now without much luck. Another way to connect with the owner is via email.
Like phone scripts, there are certain things to keep in mind when crafting an email to a seller:
• Keep the email short and to the point.
• Be sure to introduce yourself and your company. Include a link to your website. This is the easiest way for the reader to vet you, your company and the services you offer.
• Highlight recent transactions you’ve been involved with in that area, linking to information about those transactions as appropriate.
• Make a specific ask to the owner, giving them a reason to follow-up with you.
Here’s what an email script might look like using the 78-unit apartment building from above.
My name is Sarah Smith. I’m a commercial real estate broker with Minneapolis Realty Advisors [LINK TO PROFILE] where I specialize in multifamily transactions. I’ve tried calling you a few times but haven’t had much success, so I thought I’d try to connect via email.
I wanted to reach out about your property at 600 Fifth Street. If I have my records straight, it seems like you built this property in 2013 and have owned it ever since. I also saw that your loan is set to mature in May 2020. With your loan maturity date fast approaching, I thought it might be a good time to discuss potentially selling or refinancing your property. My team is working with a handful of investors who would certainly be interested in this site, and we could find you another investment property to trade up into – perhaps even without putting in additional capital.
Let me know if you’d be interested in grabbing lunch sometime next week. Right now, Tuesday and Wednesday are relatively open on my end – would either option work for you? I’d be happy to sit down and brainstorm a few options for you, even if you ultimately decide now is not the right time to do anything. At a minimum, I’d love to introduce myself personally and tell you a bit more about the services my company could offer.
Thanks in advance, John. I look forward to chatting soon.
[CONTACT INFO] [COMPANY WEBSITE]
As you can see, the key to a powerful pitch – whether by phone or email – is starting the conversation equipped with robust property, owner, and market information. This property intelligence can all easily be collected with Reonomy.