The information in this answer provided by Attorney Ranj Mohip is general information and is not intended as legal advice, nor does the attorney intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any reader by answering this question or otherwise contributing as a member of Trulia.com.
You absolutely do not need any experience being a landlord in order qualify for a mutli-unit property.
Before I got into residential real estate brokerage, I owned several mult-unit buildings in Lakeview, Bucktown and Roscoe Village. You should talk with a mortgage broker to see if you qualify for a 2-4 flat loan and then contact a realtor who has a background in multi-unit property. You want to hire a realtor who has dealt with multi-unit properties, understand and can explain-gross income vs-net operating income, cap rates, leases, and other investment analysis solutions.
Let me know if I can be of any assistance.
I'm not sure if I'm too late to answer your question, but if not maybe this will help....
I work with sellers and buyers alike and I've never heard of a lender not approving you to purchase a 3 flat if you do not have any previous landlord experience. Everything is relevant, but most importantly will be if you qualify for the loan.
I'd be more than happy to help you with the right resources to have your answers all lined up before submitting an offer on any property. I'd also like the opportunity to meet with you and further discuss your real estate needs and goals and make sure that you get a great deal on either that 3 flat your eyeing or any other property you move forward on.
I can be reached at any time, info below. Please feel free to check out http://www.richkasper.com as well as email me for my portfolio, which I'd be more than happy to send to you.
Thanks for your time and I anticipate your response. You can email me direct at email@example.com.
Conlon Real Estate
You do not need prior landlord experience to qualify. However, multi-unit buildings always require a little more caution during the loan pre-approval stage. We (loan officers) must be very thourough when reviewing a buyers info, and also must be very knowledgeable with the guidelines as there are more rules we must follow before we are able to approve a buyer. There are several pieces of important information that must first be answered...
1) Will you be living in the property?
2) How much down payment do you have?
3) What is your credit score?
4) Is it a legal 3-unit,or a 2-unit with a basement?
5) How much money do you have in reserves after the closing takes place?
I wouldn't expect you to answer these questions over the internet. The only way to know for sure is to meet with a qualified loan officer. Pick someone you trust and someone who knows the guidelines for multi-unit buildings. Good luck Andre!