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Let’s talk about converting your multifamily into condos. What does it entail, who are the people you need to speak to, what are the things that you need to consider? I have a lot of clients that often come to me and say, “I have a two-family, I have a three-family, I have a four-family and there are some condos selling in my neighborhood, and I’m considering instead of selling my multifamily as a multifamily, what do you think about converting this building into condos and selling them off individually as condos? A couple things. I’m going to go over five things that you want to consider, five people that you want to speak to and get their advice before you make that final decision.

Number one, the number one person you want to speak to is your local real estate agent, a real estate agent that is versed in the multifamily, in condo sales within your market, within your neighborhood. What you’re trying to find out from that real estate agent is two things. One, “What would my multifamily building sell for if it sold as a whole, as a multifamily building?” The second number is, “If I break this into two units, or three units, what are those individual condos going to sell for?” That seems pretty elementary, pretty straight forward. Of course you want to know that. In addition to that what are the things that need to be done to these condos? What are the quality of the finishes within these condos that are required for the sale?

Again, if I’m renting … Right now if I live in unit one and I’m renting units two and units three, and I have laminate flooring and formica countertops and Home Depot cabinets, is that okay for this neighborhood? Is it a requirement for me to upgrade now to granite, to hardwood flooring, to stainless steel if I’m going to convert these into condos? What is the quality of the finishes needed for me to actually put a finished product on the market and actually have them sell?

Once you get those two comparisons. Let’s throw some numbers out there and let’s say we’re in a Cambridge market, let’s say it’s a three-family unit, and I can sell my multifamily for, let’s say, a million bucks. I’m looking at the condos in the same neighborhood and the condos are selling for let’s say six hundred apiece. This a pretty good spread. You have a million bucks as a multifamily. You have almost 1.8 million dollars in sales as a condo conversion. Most people would say, “Pretty straight forward.”

There’s a couple other considerations that you have, though. Next what I would do is I would talk to my general contractor. There’s a couple different ways … I’m going to give you the five people that you should speak to. The real estate agent I would say is always first and then you can toggle through the next four. I would probably bring in my general contractor next and say, “I’ve spoken to my real estate agent and I’m considering going the condo route. Here are the things that I want to do. Based on what my real estate agent is telling me, I need to probably gut this kitchen and we’re gonna go new flooring, new hardwood. We’re gonna bring in stainless appliances. I want new plumbing. I’m probably gonna change out a couple furnaces in the basement. I’m gonna separate these into different utilities for each unit.

Based on those things, what is that full renovation budget gonna run me?” Have your contractor come in, give them the specs, and then have them give you a proposal, a contracting proposal so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. The reason you want to do that is because, again, there’s an $800,000 spread between selling it as a multifamily and selling it as condos, but if you come in and your contractor says it’s gonna cost you about a half a million dollars to convert these into condos, is there still an 800. Now there’s only a $300,000 spread.

The other things you want to consider, $300,000 spread still a lot of money but, again, there are realtor fees, there are three realtor fees because you’ll be selling three condos. There are attorney fees. There would be three attorney fees because you’re selling three condos. There is also a bit of a home warranty, and you as a developer, or you selling these condos also have to make some type of guarantees. It’s not guarantees but some type of warranty to the end buyers. If the utilities break down, if the furnaces break down, those end condo buyers are going to be looking back to you. There are a lot of considerations there.

The next person I would speak to is an architect. The reason you would want to speak to an architect is because when you are going from a multifamily to a condo, in your condo docs you are going to need floor plans and the floor plans are going to lay out specifically which units own how much square footage, and then typically their condo fees are based on the square footage, and their ownership. Everything is kind of laid out in the condo docs and the architect is going to be the person that is going to come in and make sure that all the details of this building are specifically laid out, and then transfer all that to the attorney, which is the next person you would probably want to speak to. The attorney is going to talk to you a little bit about the process of drafting up condo docs, splitting your units into three separate entities, or three separate deeds.

There’s a lot of legals that go into taking one deed, one multifamily, and now dividing it up into three separate living quarters. The attorney is the next person you would want to speak to. You want to make sure that you are on board and fully understanding everything that legally needs to be done to convert these into condos, get your new condo docs, and everything else that goes along with it.

The last person you want to speak to, very important, as well, is your CPA, whoever does your taxes. You really want to make sure that they are versed in the real estate world. You want to make sure that they fully understand capital gains tax. What are my tax consequences for selling this building. Are they any different from selling it … your cost basis is going to be adjusted. Your cost basis is going to be adjusted from depending on how much money you put in, what your renovation budget is. Your renovation budget is going to affect your cost basis. You really want to ask them a lot of questions, your CPA a lot of question about the tax consequences that come with selling property and then your opportunity to sell these three or four condos, two, three condos, as well.

Again, talk to your real estate agent. Ask a lot of questions. Does it make financial sense? Talk to your attorney. What are the legal ramifications? Talk to your CPA. What are the tax ramifications? Talk to your general contractor. What is this going to cost me to get this to a market-ready condo? Last, but not least, talk to your architect about getting your floor plans ready so you can actually present them to your attorney to be included in the condo docs and, again, your realtor would probably want to see those floor plans, as well, because they would actually help the sale of the potential building, as well.

Again, Willie Mandrell, Mandrell Company. Five people that you want to speak to before you consider, or while you’re considering, changing your multifamily into a condo. If I can be of any help, please reach out. Mandrellco.com, m-a-n-d-r-e-l-l-c-o.com, or you can reach us at 617-297-8641. Thanks and have a nice day.