Home Buying in Westchester>Question Details

Health, Home Buyer in Mar Vista, Los Angeles...

I'm looking to buy a multi-unit (owner-occupied) in Westchester, what kind of qualifications should a Realtor have with this type of acquisition?

Asked by Health, Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA Sun Feb 5, 2012

This would be my first purchase, so I'm a little uncertain as to what kind of qualifications, or specific designations a Realtor should have with this type of property acquisition. My main goal is to find someone who understands all the quirks of investment property, so I can avoid any costly pitfalls and be able maximize all the potential tax-saving opportunities.

In the future, I envision myself owning multiple properties throughout the L.A. area, so I think it would be paramount to not only find a choice Realtor, but to find someone who I could look to as a mentor—a person who's "been there, and done that." Tall order, huh?

Thanks in advance.

Help the community by answering this question:


Great question Heath!

If you want to be a commercial real estate investor and work with a professional in your area you should consider finding an agent that has earned one of two professional designations. Agents will put a series of letters to the right of their name to help consumer’s differentiate their skills and education.

The first one I would look for is the CRS designation. This is the Council of Residential Specialists. This is like the PHD of real estate for agents. To get most designations, you sit in a 2 or 3 day class and get them. CRS is different. It requires that you have completed a minimum of 25 transactions and take a series of 4 day classes before you can apply for it. It takes most agents at least 3+ years to be qualified to earn this designation! You can go to http://www.crs.com and click on "Find a CRS" to locate an agent in your area to interview them.

The second one you should consider is a CCIM agent. This is the CCIM Institute and CCIM stands Certified Commercial Investment Member. With the number of transactions and classes needed to attain this designation, these agents are at the top of their game! Go to http://findaprofessional.ccim.com/search and click on the "advanced" tab to search for agents in your area that also focus on multifamily.

Best of luck to you on your search!

If you liked my answer, please give me the "Thumbs Up" and reward me by designating me as the "Best Answer"!


Chris Schilling, ABR, GRI, CRS, GREEN
Real Estate Broker
Turbo Realty
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Dear Health,
I would recommend you contact a Commercial Brokerage for this type of purchase. Commercial Agents have specific training in Multi-Family Aquisitions ,Investments, as well as other commerical properties.

They will know how to give you the statistics you need to make a wise purchase,although they may not have purchased multi-family themselves. Currently Multi-Family property is the hottest investment out there and there are many investors looking for them at the moment.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 7, 2012
Realtors® have a Code of Ethics that requires that they be proficient in their fields of practice.

Realtor® or not, it's relatively easy to find agents who specialize in multi-family properties. You could start by calling agents that have listings, talk to them, avoid making commitments, so you can go and talk to some others.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Tall order? Not really. Many realtors own investment properties. We see good opportunities often. But expecting a realtor to be a mentor is unrealistic. We earn our livings by selling properties. Agents usually specialize in residential (1-4 unit properties) or commercial (>4, retail, etc) You should absolutely find an agent who understands the local market, and investiment property tranactions, including cap rates and other indicators of sound investing, but you do need to know what you're doing. Tax questions should be referred to your accountant or financial planner, not your real estate agent.

There are local colleges and private institutions that offer classes to help prepare you for investing in real estate. Also, go to local websites like lahd.lacity.org to study up on renter's rights, landlord responsibilites etc.. Do your homework. Make sure you know both the pros and cons of owning multi-unit properties.

And good luck to you.

It is a great time to invest in real estate with both prices being so low and interest rates down at record levels.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Hi Health

All of the answers are correct. You may also want to find someone who has local sales and management experience. I lived in Westchester for years and sold several income properties to clients that held for income only along with buyers that were starting out. The first time buyers lived in one unit and then later kept these properties as income. Someone local can also keep you up to date on train and airport related issues like soundproofing by lax that is a big benefit to you the property owner.

I can be reached by cell at 310.429.5997 and can email you scenarios so you may compare how different income types work ie, residential income vs multifamily.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Find someone who is experienced in:
(1) Rent Control and tenant laws
(2) Multi-family Finacing
(3) Constructon and general maintenance
(4) is a local investor themselves.
(5) can help you manage the properties

Above all impecable reputation and credentials and puts YOUR best interest first and foremost.

Westchester is part of Los Angeles and subject to RSO (Rent stabilization ordinance) or rent control. If you do not want t deal with that, you can buy in neighboring North Inglewood, which has no rent control.

There is a BIG difference betwen buying 5 units or more as opposed to 4 or less... email me or call me and I can share much more information with you.

Ron Escobar, MBA
Broker & General Contractor
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012

You definitely need to specify whether you are looking for 1-4 units investment property or commercial apartment buildings? With the first one any experienced,and legitimate agent working in that specific area should be able to advise you. As far as Commercial Buildings you should have a Commercial agent by your side.
They have access to different data than Residential Agents.
Good agent will find that property for you knowing the area sales and will advise you about the investment.
Your CPA should be able to financially guide you regarding tax-savings.

I specialize in Westchester area and have access to many homes that will match your criteria.
Should you be interested please give me a call or email me at agnes.rosiak@gmail.com

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012

I have sold real estate over 30 years. From duplexes to a 150 unit apartment building, to 100,000+ sq ft shopping centers, hotels, warehouses and more.

You asked about what kind of qualifications should a Realtor have with this type of acquisition.

Are my qualifications worthy enough for you to call me or e-mail me as to when we can meet at a Starbucks, or cafe so you can interview me?


Al Goldberg Broker
30+ years experience
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
First of all, congratulations on beginning your endeavors into the real estate investment market. Now is a great time to do so! And good job too, on doing some background research and wanting to be as informed and guided as possible.

You are right to want to work with a Realtor who can best assist you in your investment purchase, not just as a property buyer, but also as a real estate investor. Make sure you are considering a Realtor who has worked extensively with investor clients before, and has helped them get proven results. An agent who owns investment properties themself is great too as they have first hand knowledge.

It is important that an agent can assist you along every step of the way - and there are several additional steps with investment properties vs. owner occupied properties. They need to be able to assist you in properly analyzing potential return value, provide you with the tools and avenues you may need to fix up the properties as needed. They may even help you get your property advertised rented out (as I do for my investor clients for free!).

Good luck, and if you need any further assistance, or are still looking for an experienced agent to have on your site, feel free to give me a call.

Richard Schulman
Keller Williams Realty
(310) 482-0173
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 19, 2012
I would go with a Realtor that *OWNS INVESTMENT PROPERTY THEMSELVES*. That will they will know more up close and personal all the all the costs of owning an investment, and all the due diligence you have to do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Do you only invest in Stocks your Broker suggests? - Perform your due-dilligence by yourself! - Then seek out a REA that specializes in "1 to 4 unit Income Property" or "5+ Multi-family Commercial Property

This is a HUGH Investment. Please Take Full Responsibility!

Start doing your homework. A good place to start: http://www.loopnet.com/

When you are ready to consider "Financing" I certainly will appreciate the opportunity! .... Happy Studying- Rudi Hofmann
Web Reference: http://www.RudisList.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 5, 2012
Actually, that is a common sense approach. Based on my experience there are very few multi unit properties that comes on the market in this area. Those who do have this type of property rarely offers them for sale and actually this area is more a bedroom community with over 90% of the properties being Single Family. In terms of qualification(s) I am an Appraiser as well as a Broker. I have found that this mix has help me to better advise my client's not only in finding the right property but also to ensure that they are not paying too much in a purchase transaction or being offered too little in the case of sale . I happy to offer you my expertise.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 11, 2013
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