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Video: Multifamily Property Inspection

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I found a video this morning that is an excellent “real world” depiction of an actual multifamily investment property inspection.  If you’ve never partaken in a real home or building inspection, I recommend that you check out this 6 minute video (located at the bottom of this post) so you know what to expect when the time comes for you to hire an inspector.

The inspection aims to evaluate the structure, roof, plumbing, electric, heating, cooling, attic and basement.  One of the most important things to inspect is the exterior, because a poorly-conceived or dilapidated exterior will increase your property maintenance costs (painting, sidewalk, bricks, windows, etc.).  Thus, obviously you want a property with an exterior that is as low-maintenance as possible.  Good signs include brick exteriors, new windows, and a solid chimney.  You’ll also want to make sure that the drainage around the property is adequate (i.e., the ground slopes away from the building).

The second most important area to inspect is the roof.  Therefore, it is necessary for the inspector to actually get up there to scope it out!  You’ll need to check the roof’s condition and age, as well as identify the type of roof so you can predict your future maintenance needs.  If the roof is damaged, make sure you get repair estimates and try and get the seller to reduce the sales price by the amount of the estimated repairs.

Next, the inspector goes through the individual apartments, and conducts a similar inspection to what you’d do for a single family home.  Things to check include the electrical outlets, switches, windows, appliances, exhaust fans, doors, plumbing (toilets, showers, sinks), tiles, flooring, etc.  It’s also a good idea to determine the average age of the HVAC systems, as most apartments have individual heating & cooling utilities.  An air conditioner will last about 15 years, and a furnace will last about 20 years.  Thus, if the average age of these utilities is close to or exceeds the typical shelf-life for each one, you’ll need to do a lot of replacing sooner that you might have hoped.

Next, the inspector gets into the guts of the property by inspecting the plumbing infrastructure for leaks and the electrical systems for imperfections and safety issues.  Specific inspection elements include the electrical panels, fuses and wiring.  Also, the inspection should confirm that the wiring is NOT of the “knob and tube” variety which would surely need to be completely updated prior to closing.

So that is a general overview of the inspection process for a multifamily building.  Whether you’ve ever gotten an inspection done or not, I recommend that you watch the video so you know what to look for when you’re trying to find a property to buy.  Good luck!

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