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Buying a FourPlex

buying a fourplex as an investment property

Kind of meh now, but there is huge potential in this historic home.

It’s no secret that I like real estate. I think owning investment property is a great way to build wealth and create semi-passive income. You get to enjoy growing equity and increasing property value over time, all while someone else pays the mortgage. What’s not to like?

Well, plenty. We made a bad decision in trying to flip a house a couple of years ago, and had a huge repair bill on one of our rentals this year, which negated any profits.  Still, we are in this for the long haul, and like something out of a HGTV episode, we recently found a deal and bought a fourplex! Here is the story.

Not A Good Realtor To Be Found

As you might remember, Jim and I have looked at a few potential rentals over the past year, or rather, I look and he says, “OK” as he does not share my love of the hunt. Anyway, after the bad flip deal, I was a bit sour on our realtor and decided to find someone new.

The problem was that they all sucked. I thought I had a good one who actually showed me a  few properties at the end of last year. I didn’t see anything that sang to me, and she promised to send updates when something new came available. I never heard from her again.

I put off looking for a while after we bought our commercial building. Earlier this summer I got the bug again and called two realtors about various properties that were on MLS or that I noticed while driving. Neither property worked out, but I told both realtors what we were looking for and asked them to notify me if they found listings that matched our criteria. Never heard back from either one.

Having multi tenant properties

The original woodwork is outstanding, even if it’s kind of covered up now.

I realize there are lots of looky loos who want to see everything and never buy, but come on. We are good buyers and ready to jump if the right place appears.

Being Klutzy Can Be An Advantage

A few weeks ago, I had to get my oil changed. Because I can be cheap my time is valuable, I went to Jiffy Lube, only to be told there was at least a 30 minute wait. Since I had a coupon, I decided to stay, but I’m terrible about sitting around. I had my work out clothes on because I was headed to the gym later, so I decided to go for a run while waiting on my car.

What does this have to do with rental property? Well, since I was jogging in a place I don’t normally jog, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and did a full on yard sale right in front of a lady walking her dog. Not my finest moment, but I hopped back up and tried hide my embarrassment while blood was coming out of both knees and palms.

Because I had to limp walk to recover from my spill, I noticed a for sale sign on an older, historic home in a perfect location, actually on the premier street in our town. The sign said it had four units and a new price.

Out of curiosity, I called the realty office that was on the sign to find out about that new price. I spoke with a realtor who wanted my email to send information about the property. Big mistake. I got 3-5 pushy emails a day from her over the next week wanting me to sign a contract making her my exclusive agent. All this from a 30 second conversation. I wanted more action, but this was over the top. I do not like to be pressured into anything.

Multiplex for commercial and residential use.

The extra building is almost like a bonus.

I Really Have To Find A Realtor

Since I was batting 0 at realtors, I decided to feel out our previous one. I sent her a brief email that said something like,

“I hope you’re doing well. Even though our last project did not end as planned, I’m glad you were able to finish it. We are thinking of adding a new rental property before the end of the year. Would you be interested in helping with that?”

Right away, I got a positive reply and we had a showing scheduled for the fourplex. It felt like coming home.

The Showing

I was a little annoyed when the owner turned up for the showing, but it turned into our lucky day. We got the back story on the property. Her grandpa built the house in the early 30’s and made the main house into an upper and lower apartment when his children left home. He also built another two unit building at the back of the property. It currently has an apartment on the upper floor and a commercial space at ground level.

The place is now owed by two sisters. One of them retired recently, and the other one, who was showing us the house, really wanted to join sis in retired bliss. All the tenants were new hires she ran into from her work at the sheriff’s department. They were all on month to month leases and paying really low rents because she felt sorry for their entry level salaries.

My realtor asked if it was hard to sell the house, meaning emotionally. Instead she answered that they had seen very little interest and she was more than anxious to see it gone.

The Offer

With that information and the fact that the house had been on the market for over 400 days, we decided to throw in a low ball offer. The place was listed at $222,500 after a recent $5000 price drop. The property started at $249K over a year ago.

We offered $170,000 subject to inspection. The sellers countered at $190,000. We countered back at $185k, and they accepted. Real estate in Southwest Colorado is an amazing deal! It was almost too easy.

If we hadn’t spoken with the owner and gotten the feeling they were done, I don’t think we would have started so low. We were willing to top out at $200K, so I think we got a steal.

It is a big property and much more than we thought we’d be buying at this stage of the game. With the price, rental potential, and location, we couldn’t pass it up.  I wondered why someone didn’t jump before us, and I’ll share my opinion in a later post, but we should be able to cash flow at least $500 a month if all goes as projected. The inspection turned out well and the sellers are fixing some of the electrical issues before we close. I’m sure we’ll hit a snag somewhere, but so far, the process is moving along like gangbusters, and we are set to close in a few weeks.

The Future?

This house also solves a future dilemma because we could easily move into the main house after we’ve done our retirement nomading. We won’t restore it to it’s former glory for tenants, but someday we will do that either to list it or to live in.

This post is already too long, but it’s exciting to almost be a four plex owner, even if I literally stumbled into it. I’m sure it won’t all be roses, but I’ll keep you updated as we continue to build our rental property empire:)

Have you fallen into anything good lately? How would you feel about having a multi-unit property? Can this count for a month of wealth building on my Health and Wealth challenge?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Way to get out there and make things happen! I would love to have a multiplex, they’re a little out of our price range up here. it looks like there’s a lot of potential for you there, best of luck.

    • Real estate is such a good buy here. It might not ever appreciate like something in San Francisco or New York, but average people can afford to buy and hold for a good profit in the interim and in the long term.

  2. Congrats! So will you be raising the rents on the current tenants and trying to get some folks in there paying market rent?

    • We will give them the option of staying at market rents, but they will have to be screened as new tenants and sign a 12 mos lease. It would be easy if some or all stay, but I suspect they will move on.

  3. Congrats for finding a diamond in the rough so to speak! I’m looking forward to the next update. My DH would love for us to become property investment owners. I am not against it but I am a bit more cautious about it.

    • I am no expert, but if you can master being ready to pull the trigger with being patient in finding the right place, it usually works out in my experience.

  4. Congrats Kim! That is so exciting. It looks like a very nice property 🙂 I’m anxious to read more about your rentals as I’ve thought about the possibility of becoming a landlord in the (far away) future. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • I will post good, bad, and ugly. I want people to see the pros and cons. Right now, it seems super stressful and more work than I want but hopefully in a year, it will be a sweet thing.

  5. I can’t help but laugh at how you literally stumbled up on that deal. Congratulations and hope it brings you lots of wealth! I think it’s up to you if you want to count it towards the challenge. 🙂

  6. Very cool! I admit the idea of a four-plex piques my interest – especially at that price point. My question though, is what are you going to do with the current tenants paying super low rents? I’m not really sure the proper way to handle that situation

    • The current owner has pretty much told them they will have 30 days when the place sells. We will keep them on if they are willing to apply as new applicants, be screened, and sign a lease with our new rental prices. If they don’t leave before closing and don’t agree to new terms, legally, we will have to give them a 30 day notice once we take ownership.

  7. I have wanted to get into the real estate investing game, but damn. We wouldn’t be able to find a fourplex at that price. Not even in an decent condition would something come into this area less than $350,000! That is awesome Kim. I guess you are glad you tripped and fell. A little blood just might have thrown you a little profit!

    • I am so glad that the Jiffy Lube was backed up, and that I am impatient, and that I tripped and fell. I drive past this place all the time, but never really paid attention and it wasn’t in the price range I usually search on MLS. I don’t know if I would have found it any other way.

  8. That’s quite a steal from the original price. Does this mean you’ll break it up into 4 individual rental units?

    • It is currently in 4 units. Three of which are rented. The commercial unit is vacant at the moment. We will most likely do some minor thing that need to be done and keep it the same. At some point, I’d like to fix the main house up a bit more and make it a single family rental. We’ll just have to see how much we are in for repairs in the beginning.

  9. Great story…love the ways these opportunities present themselves. Sounds like this was a great deal and you had a lot of leverage considering this house had been on the market for so long. It’s amazing what you can get when people are tired and desperate.

    • If I have learned anything in real estate, it’s to make an offer. All they can do is refuse. My realtor was pretty sure they would not decline since they were very anxious for an offer, and I’m glad we played it the way we did.

  10. Congrats! It sounds like this could be a really profitable investment for you. Once you get the rents more at “market” rate I’m sure the semi-passive cash flow will be great, too. I would love to buy a duplex or fourplex down the road and I think it’s a really efficient way to own real estate. Kind of like an apartment building on a smaller scale.

    • I think with this amount of units, it isn’t overwhelming. If there were 20 or 30 or 100, even with property management, that would probably keep me up at night.

  11. Congrats! I think this is an awesome idea. This is something we would like to do one day.

  12. Congrats, Kim! Who knew having to wait for an oil change and a stumble could lead to such a great opportunity for you? It sounds like a great deal and I love how the owner inadvertently gave you enough ammunition so that you were able to score an even better price. And yes, the best part of owning something like that – is you can make a part of it your permanent home when you’re done being a retirement nomad. 🙂

    • Some of my best career and investment opportunities seem to come by accident, but I think making myself open to possibilities and being ready to move when an opportunity does present is why it works. Hopefully, this one will pay off.

  13. I don’t think I have ever seen a fourplex before, but that’s awesome that you got a great deal on it. If you plan to invest more in real estate, I think you should just get your license and do the work yourself. I have a few friends who did that here. They took a course and now save thousands of dollars since they are active in real estate.

    • Most of them in our area are dumpy hovels, but this one is not a traditional fourplex because it has two separate buildings that are completely different and the main one could be for two units or one larger one.

  14. Congrats, I’m with you on being in love with real estate for creating wealth. For many people with real estate it’s seeing what the place could be with a little work that turns them away from a property, so great work on sticking with it even after the flip that went wrong. Risk is always involved, but getting a great deal certainly limits the risk.

    • So far, it’s worked for us not to get too attached and view it always as a business. If the numbers don’t make sense, then we need to walk.

  15. Wow, what a deal, are there 4 kitchens? We ran in to a problem where a renter tried to sublet a place, but luckily caught on. Some of the best and worst investments ever.

    • There are three kitchens and the commercial space does not have one. If we can rent it as commercial, it’s good to go, but my feeling is we might have to make it a residential apartment at some point, but who knows? I’ve never tried to do commercial other than for an optometry practice.

  16. Congrats on literally stumbling upon a great deal! Hope to hear some good news from this.

  17. Interesting!!!!! Lots of potential here, and we would’ve jumped on it too. I’ll be curious to see what ends up happening with the commercial space.

  18. That’s awesome, congratulations Kim! Looks like some solid numbers you got there. Four tenants may be more work but at least they’re all in the same place.

  19. How exciting for you! Sounds like a great deal! I am looking forward to future posts on your four plex!

  20. Great find on a cash flowing property. If I could I would live in one unit and rent the rest. Having others pay off your mortgage just makes sense.

  21. How fabulous! Congrats! I’m so jealous of that price–seriously. Can’t even buy a studio apartment for that price in Cambridge! Looks like the house has a lot of great original detail too.

    • It is certainly a diamond in the rough. It would not be cost effective to fix it up a ton at the moment, but someday it will.

  22. Just ran into your website and this post is awesome. I have also had a horrible experience with real estate but plan on jumping in again as soon as possible. I totally get the love of the hunt for I hunt on a daily basis online and I’m not even ready to buy.

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