Selling Multifamily: Five Hard Exit Strategies

In today’s environment exiting from an owned multifamily asset can be a tough nut to crack.  Why?  It would be easy to say ‘its the times we live in”.  Well, yes, but that is not actionable or of any value.  Selling multifamily today is difficult, primarily, because people fail to recognize the time and complexity of the process.  Buyers are there, assets are available… the timeline is the thing.

Cash buyer is seeking multifamily properties

Exits are hard because even the easy one’s require serious expertise and a serious time commitment.  Selling is as common as buying, of course, just recognize the timeline. Market time to a sale in primary markets is six to twelve months, longer in secondary and tertiary markets.  Following are five reasons why it can be hard to sell a multifamily asset.

Limited 1031 Exchange Activity.  Gone are the days you can wait on a hungry 1031 buyer that must invest NOW, NOW, NOW!  They are few and far apart.  When volume slows so does 1031 money.  There are traders, but  at what price glory?  The only difference between a 1031 buyer and anyone else is that they have a definitive timeline to meet.  Otherwise, they are the same as any other buyer.

Brokers are still the center of attention in buyer identification, but they have competition for product; LinkedIN, Loopnet and a myriad of other on-line resources that will provide multifamily assets with exposure.  For those with limited experience in the asset class a broker is still your best bet.  There are just too many landmines to guess on matters related to selling a commercial multifamily asset.

Cash Buyers.  Cash buyers, fine.  But cash at a punishing discount, is this viable?  The offer is from a cash buyer with a proof of fund letter in hand; so what.  If the price  and terms offered is out of bounds for you the seller, then pass.  If the offer is within your strike zone, proceed.

People devote way too much time pondering buyer motivations.  Assuming your bases are covered, meaning no environmental or structural issues are undisclosed, close the deal.  Talk about buyer motivations at dinner with your investors while handing out checks.

CMBS lock-outs.  The quantity of CMBS loans with extended lock out periods is huge.  These lock-out periods were installed  to protect mortgage investors by preserving yield for an extended period.  That makes sense.  And, borrowers/owners signed up willingly. Now comes the the pain as deal after deal has egregious defeasance that drops a property into years of purgatory, of unsellable stasis.

Make certain  to “know your loan”.  Can you sell now?  Is there an added costs associated with liquidating this asset? What is this costs? Is the loan on your asset beyond the lock-out period?  Who is your contact person for obtaining a payoff?  Are they picking up the phone and responsive or lost in foreclosure/robo-document land?

Loan  Underwriting.  The pendulum has swung hard… The stack of paper is thicker than ever at loan closings.  And there are more attorneys than iPhones at the table.  There is no way out.  If you want the loan the required documentation is, required…  As a seller, this means being amiable to assisting the buying in filling in their loan package with lender required documentation and updates all along with way.

Time, Patience and Exposure. These are your best friends in the selling process.  All are  equally important. Patience is the most difficult of all.  Patience is hard… Having all three of these in combination will assist any seller in navigating items 1 through 4 above.  There is not replacement for time in a transaction.  Each has its own cadence.

If you are stuck on an issue, send me a email.  If I can help with an idea or resources, I will. My email address is

John Wilhoit, Jr. Releases Multifamily Insight Book on Amazon

Multifamily Insight Volume 1 delivers hard hitting facts about how to buy and operate multifamily apartment assets. Multifamily Insight Volume 1 teaches its readers how to apply techniques to increase revenue and control expenses in today’s volatile market. It is a reference guide delivering educational content about how to implement real world strategies in professional property management and execute multifamily operations at their highest level of efficiency

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Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific tasks that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. We discuss real world issues in multifamily property management and acquisitions. This blog is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. Seek professional counsel.  For more information, visit:

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