selling an apartment building pennsylvania

Are you selling an apartment building and struggling to find help and resources to get the deal done? Maybe you’re looking for an easy way to sell the property fast but worry that you won’t find the right real estate agent, title company or buyer to make it all happen. After all, you don’t want to waste all of the improvements, investments and sweat equity you’ve contributed to get the building running like a well-oiled machine. That’s your return and you deserve to cash in on it!

Every year in America, over $150B in multi-family property exchanges ownership. This includes apartment complexes, multi-unit apartments, duplexes, triplexes, quads, and other multi-family homes. Without the right guidance and approach, these landlords risk mispricing their property values or miscalculating the real estate market’s current conditions.

The approach and structure provided in this article will help you navigate the successful sale of your rental property so that you can feel confident and satisfied with the outcome.


  • The housing market is challenging enough when dealing with single-family homes or condos, however, many landlords own multi-family properties and wish to sell them. What are some of the best practices they can adopt to sell and profit from their property?
  • Apartment buildings come in all different shapes and sizes. How is selling a duplex different than a triplex? Can tenants occupy the property during the sale? Let’s dig deeper into the questions that landlords have been asking for years.
  • Selling an apartment building does not need to be a daunting task. Help is out there, but use caution when recruiting the right buyers, agents, attorneys, etc.

Table of Contents

How To Sell An Apartment Building In PA: 5-Step Process

It’s critical for landlords and sellers of apartment buildings to know that the process can vary by the landlord, ownership structure, tenant situations and even geographic location. When putting up a multi-family property for sale, there may also be restrictions from public housing authorities or affordable housing laws that come in to play.

Regardless of the situation, you can always sell an apartment building. Despite what you might hear from naysayers, there is no law or restriction in America preventing you from selling any type of property that you own.

Step 1: Why Would You Sell An Apartment Building?

There could be hundreds of different reasons a homeowner decides to sell an apartment building, but it usually boils down to money.  Below are some examples that highlight different reasons landlords would like to cash in and sell a multi-family property:

Retirement: Apartment building can be a fantastic way to secure a strong retirement financially. They can provide solid and steady streams of income, however, they also require work! As landlords near retirement, they may be incapable or uninterested in the maintenance and administrative work required to operate an apartment complex. Selling their multi-family housing is a great way to downsize their exposure and reduce their responsibilities.

Liquidation of Assets: Multifamily landlords who own apartment buildings often own more than one building. Sometimes, when new opportunities arise, they can choose to liquidate an existing building and use the proceeds as a down payment or deposit for other multi-family investments.

Market Conditions: The real estate market often fluctuates. In recent years, the pandemic has induced favorable changes to property values (single-family, condominiums, co-ops, and even multi-family apartments). If the housing market has moved in the landlord’s favor, they may opt to sell and cash out on the appreciation.

Deferred Maintenance: Some buildings or properties can be challenging to keep up with. An owner tasked with the day-to-day upkeep may realize over time that the building conditions are deteriorating and they cannot fix it with the time and capital they have available. Selling the apartment building would allow a new investor to fund the renovation and improvements to get the duplex or triplex back on track financially.

Personal Circumstances: People sell property all of the time for personal and situational reasons. Apartment buildings are no different. Perhaps the owner is relocating due to a job change or family situation. Or it is possible that they wish to sell the building because it was inherited from another family member and they are not equipped to be the landlord.

sell my apartment building pennsylvania

Financial Risk: If a landlord is struggling to pay down a loan, find tenants or add value to a building then selling may be their only option to recoup any money and move on. An apartment building that is not meeting occupancy targets will rarely stay afloat for more than 1-2 years.

Overall, there can be many different reasons to sell an apartment building. What’s important in this first step is to clearly identify your reason so that you can understand where the motivation to sell is coming from. If you just want the funds to do another project and you have time then perhaps you don’t need to rush the sale and you can clean up the building. If you’re in financial distress, a quick and easy sale to a cash buyer may be more suitable.

Step 2: How Do You Value An Apartment Building?

Multi-family valuation does not need to be something that only Wall Street professionals understand. In fact, you, as the property’s landlord, are totally capable of doing this simple math on the back of a cocktail napkin!

How To Value Your Apartment Building For Sale

Cost Approach

I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t include this approach because it’s not one you would typically use in practice when selling a multi-family property. However, to be totally comprehensive, I am going to briefly describe what this means and why it’s an approach.

The cost approach calculates the cost of building a similar structure from scratch. This would include land acquisition, physical improvements, construction and labor, etc. However, the market value for your apartment building is not highly influenced by the costs to build it. It’s influenced by what other comparable properties are currently selling for (more on that in “Market Comparison” & “Income Capitalization”).

You’ll often find that insurance companies and appraisers may rely on this approach to compute replacement values so that properties can be insured and covered for liability. However, with it not being market-oriented, I would advise alternative approaches to selling your multi-family property.

Market Comparison Approach

This is going to be your “go-to” method for valuing duplexes, triplexes and quads. Small residential multi-family buildings with less than four units are typically valued using the comparable sales approach or market comparison approach.

Luckily, this is the same approach you are familiar with because it is used to also evaluate single-family homes, condos, co-ops and many other residential applications. The approach uses the principle of substitution – meaning like-for-like properties will typically sell for the same amount.
At the core of it, it presumes that a willing buyer will pay no more for a property than the sales price of a similar and equally desirable property. The concept relies on properties having similar attributes such as location, size, condition, age, etc.

Income Approach

With apartment complexes and multifamily buildings being income-generating assets, many prospective buyers are only willing to pay for the anticipated income that the property will produce. And as apartment buildings grow in size with more and more units, this income capitalization approach becomes more and more applicable to the overall valuation of the property.

In its simplest carnation, this approach estimates the annual net operating income a multi-family property is forecasted to earn and then extrapolates the sales price off of that. For example, if a property is expected to throw off $10,000 this year in income and investors in the local market are seeking 8% returns (i.e., capitalization rates) then the property’s value is computed as $125,000 ($10,000 / .08).

This means that if you sold the property to a cash buyer and then invested $125K of their cash, then in that first year they would earn 8% or $10K on their investment.

Step 3: How Do You Market An Apartment Building For Sale?

There are many different ways you can get the word out that you are trying to sell an apartment building. However, most landlords end up pursuing one or two of the three options outlined in the video and detail below:

Marketing To Sell Your Apartment Building
  1. Listing With An Agent: Hiring a real estate agent to take on all of the marketing and showing of the property can truly feel alleviating in the beginning. Agents are professionals at sales, so not only can they sell your multifamily property, but they also need to sell you on a listing agreement! Once the paperwork between you and the broker is inked, a lot of sellers find that agents often change their behavior and contribution to selling your property. In fact, some just post it to the MLS with pictures from their cellphone and call it a day. You wonder if that’s something you could’ve done (more on that in the next option). However, the beauty in enlisting the help of an agent is that the burden of marketing for offers is mostly off your plate. Expect to retain most of your time, but be prepared to spend 5%-6% on a good agent.
  2. For Sale By Owner: Marketing the property yourself is going to give you the most control over every aspect of the process. You wear many different marketing hats in order to get enough exposure and volume of interest in the property to generate offers. This approach, involves you, the owner landlord, creating all the listing advertisements, receiving phone calls from prospective buyers and agents, and also showing the property. Without being a licensed agent, you may struggle to get traction on the MLS with your property but there are ways to get that accomplished. This method will cost you the most amount of time and a modest amount of money to DIY.
  3. Finding Local Cash Buyer: If you had to take the benefits from both of the above options and bundle them into one, this would be it! Working with a cash buyer expedites the entire process giving you back all of your time spent on marketing. And it also saves you thousands of dollars because you are selling your multi-family directly – no commissions, no fees. A good cash buyer can be invaluable in the sale of your apartment property and it gets you the type of offer that is most suitable: cash! Don’t expect any financing contingencies or appraisals coming from a local cash buyer.

Sell Your House Fast For Cash In Pennsylvania

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Step 4: Getting An Offer Under Contract For Your Apartment Building

Getting an offer on your duplex, triplex or multifamily house early and fast is so critical in a successful transaction. If your property has been listed for 60-90+ days without an offer then you likely have priced it to high and now buyers are timid about even coming out to see the apartment building.

Once you start to receive offers, from cash buyers or on-market agents, closely look through all of them. Price is important, but check to make sure all of the other terms meet your objectives and needs.

Don’t let too much time go by without communicating back to your buyers. You can accept, counter or decline to counter. You’ll want to use your judgment on how to proceed in each situation. This also might be a good time to evaluate any feedback you are hearing from buyers or agents about the property, rent rates, condition and overall market. Be observant and confident when you decide on how to proceed with your offers.

Step 5: Selling An Apartment Building For Cash in Pennsylvania

Closing on the sale of your apartment building should be an uneventful experience if you are working with a strong attorney or title agency. It’s critical that all of the details are prepared according to the purchase and sale contract.

You might be conveying a tenant-occupied property, meaning there is more work to share the security deposits, lease agreements and other administrative details.

Once finalized, the escrow agents will use the proceeds of the sale to pay off any existing mortgages, liens and other credits before cutting you a check or wire for the leftover cash.


If you just sold your property, there could be a tax implication on the gain from that sale. Speak with your accountant or tax strategist to determine ways to minimize that gain. Two wonderful options you can employ are to take payments over time (i.e., owner finance the sale of the apartment building) or use a 1031 exchange.

Selling A Duplex In Pennsylvania

If you need to sell a duplex quickly and don’t have the time or resources to go through the traditional home-selling process outlined above, then you might consider selling to a cash buyer. Remember, duplex buildings are just two units and qualify as residential properties so they aren’t as complex as other real estate transactions.

selling duplex pennsylvania

With duplexes being smaller and easier ways for investors to cut their teeth in the real estate investing world, many newcomers scoop up these properties only to find out how difficult they are to manage profitably. Sadly, many of these apartment buildings end up at auction because owners neglect to pay their loans or maintain the property and tenants. Don’t let this happen to you!

If this sounds familiar and you’re looking for a way to sell your duplex fast, then you should focus on the 5 Steps Above to ensure a smooth and easy rental property transaction.

Selling A Duplex With Tenants

Tenants always make the situation just a little bit more complex, but anything is possible in real estate. The difference between selling with and without tenants is going to be how flexible you are pricing. Lease agreements typically do not terminate when the property is sold which means whatever rental income is being generated is locked in for the new investor as well.

This often frustrates landlords, realtors and real estate professionals when they are selling multifamily housing property because what might be a great building with spectacular tenants is now a dud of a deal because their rental rates are below market. Below-market rates produce lower net operating income and decrease the valuation of the property (per the Income Approach above).

So the question is still unanswered:

“How do you sell a duplex with people living in it?”

Being locked in while selling a duplex with tenants is difficult, but not impossible. There are creative options that allow new investors to produce positive cash flow and sellers to get the number they want.

Sell Triplex For Cash Fast In Pennsylvania

If you’re looking for speed, convenience and cash when selling a triplex apartment building then the only option you might want to consider is working with a cash buyer. Local cash buyers ensure a quick and solid transaction because they offer cash without any contingencies or appraisals. In addition to that, you can be confident that you will be able to sell your triplex for cash instead of listing it and waiting around for an offer to come through.

Triplex homes are a class of multifamily real estate that often benefit from professional buyers who are risk-oriented and understand how to operate a multi-unit building.

Common Questions – Selling An Apartment Building In Pennsylvania

How long does it take to sell an apartment building?

The length of time it takes to sell an apartment building can vary based on multiple factors such as market conditions, location, and the condition of the property. On average, the process of selling an apartment building can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. However, by working with a cash buyer, the process can be expedited, allowing for a faster and smoother transaction.

Can I sell my multi-family building without an agent?

Yes, it is possible to sell a multi-family building without the assistance of a real estate agent. However, the process can be complicated and time-consuming, requiring a thorough understanding of the local real estate market and the legal and financial aspects of selling a property. For a quicker and easier sale, consider working with a cash buyer who can purchase your property as-is, eliminating the need for extensive repairs or renovations.

What is the quickest way to sell my multi-family property?

The quickest way to sell a multi-family property is to work with a cash buyer who specializes in purchasing properties for cash. With a cash buyer, you can bypass the traditional sales process, avoiding the need for inspections, appraisals, and other time-consuming steps. This can allow for a faster and more straightforward sale.

Is selling a multi-family home a good idea?

Selling a multi-family home can be a good idea for various reasons, such as financial difficulties, a desire for downsizing, or a change in personal circumstances. However, the decision to sell a multi-family property should be based on careful consideration of the financial and emotional aspects of the sale.

The findings and information in this article are focused on Pennsylvania, however, it is applicable in many locations nationwide. Readers of our content can benefit from this information in areas like Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Capitol Hill, Chicago, San Antonio, Florida, Austin, Kansas City, Portland, Brooklyn and many more!

Best Way To Sell My House Pennsylvania

Signature Properties provides the easiest and simplest way to sell your house in Pennsylvania. We buy houses through fair and honest cash offers.🙂 Whether you are avoiding the bank from foreclosure, coming into an inheritance, going through divorce or any other situation – we have real estate solutions to get you the outcomes you desire when you sell your house to us. We help homeowners with costly home repairs, mounting liens, code enforcement violations and even vacant homes. Are you trying to sell your house in surrounding areas or other counties and states near Pennsylvania? We buy properties in New Jersey and Delaware as well as many other towns! In fact, we buy homes all over Pennsylvania. Selling an apartment building is just like selling a house – find the right buyer and you’ll be all set!