One question I get asked a lot is, “Is it better to invest in single family rentals or multi-family properties?”
The truth is that there’s no perfect answer and so that's why you should invest in both, but for different reasons.
Here are some Pros and Cons:
Single Family Residences or (SFRs)
Usually it’s easier to purchase a single family vs an apartment building because less capital is needed initially.
Good for slow steady growth
You could possibly buy one a year and in 10-15 years, have an amazing cash-flowing portfolio.
Liquid in pieces
If needed, you could sell off a single home for the cash and not lose your entire portfolio.
Easier to diversify
If you want to diversify, you can buy SFRs in different parts of the country, with different market characteristics.
Slower ability to scale
With multi-family properties you can buy a good number of units under one roof at once. With SFRs, it’s one house at a time.
Liquidity in full
It’s harder to sell all your assets quickly if needed. You’d have to either sell one by one, or as a portfolio which is harder to unload.
Value is tied to real estate market in general and is led by comparables vs. what the property is generating in income.
Multi-family Properties (Apartment Buildings, Two Units and Above)
Easier to scale
You can buy multiple units under one roof in one transaction.
Economies of scale
If the roof needs fixing, you only need to fix one roof. You only need one insurance policy, and so on...
A building that has five or more units is eligible for a commercial loan. These loans are much easier to obtain than residential loans because they’re based more on the investment (the building) than all of your own personal assets and liabilities.
Easier to manage
You can usually hire a manager and maintenance crew to take care of the units as it is more cost effective depending on the number of units.
More control over value
Value is usually tied to the performance of the building and revenue generated through rental income. Therefore, intelligent and savvy repositioning of buildings can result in large gains quickly.
More units typically results in a higher price point. May be harder to purchase one on your own.
More management intensive
Typically there are more issues in dealing with tenants. They are typically more transitional in apartments (equals higher turnover) and there’s always the issue of inter-tenant squabbling.
So there are pros and cons to both which is why an investor should have both in their portfolio of investments.
Again, the answer isn't clear cut, but what I do know is that you can accomplish these goals with investing in either one or both. At the end of the day, I’m also looking for multiple streams of passive income and investing in both SFRs and Multi-family properties is a good way of diversifying within the real estate sector