Multi-family in Wilmington, NC is an incredibly heated debate. Where are the deals? Why are massive apartment complexes being built on every corner, but NOBODY seems to have any? How do I get it on the action? In this blog, I’m going to go in-depth on the multi-family situation and why this topic seems to allude even the most savvy investors & brokers.

 

You’d think that Wilmington is the utopia of multi-family investing. A college town and one with a booming population of millennial transplants, but you may want to reconsider that notion. Wilmington has a very small supply of multi-family and a MASSIVE demand. Foreign investors, local, and every newbie in between wants a piece of this desirable real-estate. I’m a real-estate agent that specializes solely in investment real-estate and I get emails nearly everyday from foreign investors that want multi-family here.

 

  1. INCREDIBLY small supply

 

In the city of Wilmington, there are ONLY 135 apartment buildings according to Realist. That data is about as accurate as any broker, analyst, developer is going to get. For those unaware, Realist is a piece of software that brokers get to access powerful data about the country tax record. It’s used by both commercial agents and residential real-estate agents.

This reason alone is why many foreign investors look bewildered when you say, “there’s no multi-family here in Wilmington”. The properties that are available are HORRIBLE deals left over on the commercial MLS. I mean sure, there’s a couple properties on the MLS BUT they’re so low quality and over-priced it makes you wonder…

 

2. Very few deals for small investors

What further compounds the situation is that EVEN FEWER properties are 5-20 units. The vast majority of investors are less sophisticated and just want a small complex with nice cash-flow.

5-10 unit complexes: 9 units

10-20 unit complexes: 16 units

21-50 units complexes: 12 Units

50-100 units: 5

100-300 units: 3

Note: The total number of units don’t add up to 135. Many of the complexes have been recently built and I can’t pull the exact number of units. The majority of complexes that have been built recently are bigger. I don’t have exact data on this. 

Regardless, it goes to show how few and far between the deals are for a mom & pop investor without deep pockets or the connections to be the first person an owner calls when they do choose to sell.

 

3. There’s a TON of hype surrounding the self-storage & multi-family genre

Let me share a quick story,

I worked in a family owned self storage complex with 400 units. Not even a decade ago, an investor said to me:

  • “I don’t understand how this self-storage business makes money. Who would pay to store junk? How do you stay in business?”
  • WE WERE AT %100 OCCUPANCY AT THE TIME AND COULDN’T RAISE RENTS FAST ENOUGH
  • Point being, there was so little hype around the self-storage business that VERY few people knew it was a viable business.
  • Before my dad sold the business, we got calls nearly EVERYDAY for people wanting to buy the business.
  • Public perception had shifted and all investors knew the potential profits

 

Multi-family is in the same state. With investors like Grant Cardone hyping it up, demand has skyrocketed and everyone wants multi-family. Every investor wants to think that they’re not the sheep that’s about to be slaughtered when the market implodes. But I’ve seen people pay for a businesses that cash-flow at such a narrow margin it’s astounding!

 

4. Why are there so many BIG complexes but so few small?

Imagine for a minute you are a developer with VERY deep pockets, but NEED land to build:

  • First you must understand that Wilmington has a shortage of land due to it’s geographic features
  • To combat this issue, you approach land owners that have owned for generations

You approach the these land owners with the chance to own equity in the apartment complex, instead of paying them directly in cash. Any land owner would be dumb to not take them up on the deal. Own a nice equity chunk that produces cash-flow, instead of a annoying piece of land that just causes you taxes. Plus, you don’t have to incur any of the hassle of developing the property. Sit back and watch the cash roll in.

This proposition has created a multi family boom!

  • Land owners with awesome locations are giving up there land at the chance to own equity in a promising asset
  • Developers operate at economy of scale = The bigger the complex and the better the location = higher the cash-flow
  • Essentially, why develop smaller complexes when you could develop bigger and get more money