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New to Multifamily Investing? Understand the Industry Lingo

Real estate investing has become an increasingly popular avenue for generating wealth and financial freedom, especially in a volatile economic environment.  However, diving into the world of multifamily real estate can be overwhelming, especially with the investment terms and jargon that are commonly used. In this blog, we will define and clarify some of the most common real estate investing terms to help beginners invest with confidence.

Absorption Rate:

The rate at which vacant units in a multifamily property are leased or sold within a given period.


The process of gradually paying off a mortgage debt over time through regular payments, consisting of both principal and interest.


Appreciation is the increase in the value of a property over time. It can occur due to various factors, including improvements in the neighborhood, market conditions, or renovations made to the property itself. Appreciation is a key driver of real estate investing returns and can provide significant profits when selling the property.


Refers to rental income that is uncollectible or unlikely to be collected from tenants residing in a multifamily property. It occurs when tenants fail to pay their rent or consistently pay late, resulting in a financial loss for the property owner or investor.

Capital Expenditures (CapEx):

Major expenses incurred for the renovation, replacement, or improvement of the multifamily property’s structure or systems, such as roof repairs, HVAC upgrades, or appliance replacements.

Cap Rate:

The capitalization rate, or cap rate, is a crucial metric for evaluating the potential return on an investment property. It is calculated by dividing the net operating income (NOI) by the property’s purchase price. The cap rate helps investors compare the profitability of differ

Cash Flow:

Cash flow refers to the net income generated by a rental property after deducting all expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. Positive cash flow means the property generates more income than the expenses, while negative cash flow implies the property is costing more to maintain than it is generating.

Cash-on-Cash Return (CoC):

A measure of the annual return on investment relative to the total cash invested in a multifamily property.

Common Area:

Shared spaces within a multifamily property that are used by all residents, such as lobbies, hallways, fitness centers, or communal outdoor areas.


Incentives offered by landlords, such as rent discounts, waived fees, or free utilities, to attract and retain tenants.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR):

The ratio of a property’s net operating income to its debt service payments, used by lenders to assess the property’s ability to cover its mortgage payments.


Depreciation is an accounting method that allows real estate investors to deduct the cost of the property over its useful life as a tax deduction. Although the value of a property may appreciate over time, depreciation provides a tax benefit by reducing taxable income and lowering the investor’s overall tax liability.

Due Diligence:

The process of conducting a thorough investigation and analysis of a multifamily property before finalizing the purchase, including financial, legal, and physical inspections.

Effective Gross Income (EGI):

The total rental income from a multifamily property after accounting for vacancies and potential rental income loss.


Funds or property held by a neutral third party during a real estate transaction until all conditions of the agreement are met.

Forced Appreciation:

Increasing the value of a multifamily property through renovations, improvements, or better management to generate higher rental income or increase its market value.

Letter of Intent (LOI):

A document that outlines the preliminary terms and conditions of a potential multifamily real estate transaction. It serves as a non-binding agreement between the buyer and the seller, indicating their intention to proceed with negotiations and due diligence towards the purchase or sale of a multifamily property.


Leverage refers to using borrowed funds, such as a mortgage, to finance a real estate investment. By using leverage, investors can control a more substantial asset with a smaller amount of their own capital. This amplifies the potential return on investment, but also increases the risks associated with the investment.

Market Analysis:

An assessment of local real estate market conditions, including supply and demand, pricing trends, and other factors influencing property values.

Market Rent:

The rental rate that a property can command in the current market conditions, based on factors such as location, unit amenities, and overall demand.

NOI (Net Operating Income):

The total income generated by a property after subtracting operating expenses, excluding financing costs and income taxes. [NOI = Total Income – Total Operating Expenses]

Occupancy Rate:

The percentage of occupied units in a multifamily property at a given time, indicating the level of tenant demand.

Operating Ratio:

The ratio of operating expenses to effective gross income, used to assess the efficiency of managing a multifamily property.

Operating Reserve:

A fund set aside to cover unexpected expenses or temporary cash flow shortfalls in a multifamily property.

Pro Forma:

A financial projection or estimate of a property’s potential income and expenses.

Property Classifications:

Different categorizations of multifamily properties based on their age, location, quality, and amenities. Common classifications include Class A, B, C, and D properties.

Property Management:

The professional management of a multifamily property, including tenant screening, rent collection, property maintenance, and addressing tenant concerns

ROI (Return on Investment):

Return on Investment measures the profitability of an investment by comparing the gain or loss generated relative to the amount invested. In real estate, ROI considers various factors, such as rental income, appreciation, tax benefits, and expenses. A positive ROI indicates a profitable investment, while a negative ROI suggests a loss. [ROI = (Net Profit / Total Investment) x 100]

Section 8 Housing:

A government-subsidized program that provides rental assistance to low-income individuals or families, with rent payments guaranteed by the government.

Turnover Rate:

The frequency at which tenants vacate units within a multifamily property, often expressed as a percentage of the total number of units.

Unit Mix:

The breakdown of different types and sizes of units within a multifamily property, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in each unit.

Vacancy Rate:

The percentage of unoccupied units in a multifamily property at a given time, indicating the level of tenant turnover or market conditions.

1031 Exchange:

A provision in the tax code that allows real estate investors to defer paying capital gains taxes when selling a property by reinvesting the proceeds into a similar property within a specified time frame.

If we can answer any questions to help you start your real estate journey, please feel free to reach out

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