When investing in multi-family properties, how do you avoid what feels like a free-for-all scavenger hunt? The key to success is timing your purchase to the location, seasonality, and market trends.

Here are the ways to navigate each.


  • Region

For the whole country, the spring and summer months are generally the most popular time to buy and sell. For the Midwest, the peak season begins in May, one month before everyone else. Its slowest period runs from October to February. These trends are crucial for investors and sellers to consider when entering the multi-family market. Those with properties in different regions should make a note of these trends when comparing changes by the month. The region is obviously connected largely to seasonality.


  • Seasonality

Studies show that climate and time of year can have as much as a 10 percent impact on home prices.

  • Winter: From November to March, colder regions experience a slump in the market while western cities like Phoenix become havens for snowbirds. Multi-family units are often popular in warm climates as a less expensive second home. Though colder regions have a reputation as struggling markets in winter months, cities like Denver find it to be a relief. This city’s hot market gets a welcome slowdown in the winter months, allowing for better prices.

Chilly weather is not the only factor in seasonality. November through January tend to be slower months due to the holiday season, which involves family obligations, business deadlines, and more. Most people do not want to complicate this time of year with a move. For those looking for a deal, this is an ideal time to find one, giving investors more negotiating power.

  • Spring: The market begins to swing upward in the spring for obvious reasons: the weather is warmer, attracting more people to come out. For many buyers of multi-family homes, spring also fits in nicely with the school calendar. However, many of the potential buyers won’t be serious, risking wasted time catering to uninterested parties. An important consideration for spring investments is that the calendar doesn’t always accurately predict when it will begin.
  • Summer: Multi-family home sales are at their peak in June, July, and August. In fact, July 31 was shown to be the single busiest day for home purchases. Why? Not just due to weather, but also due to the academic year. Families typically want to be settled in by the time fall hits. National housing data shows that August and September have the most intense drops in price out of the entire year.
  • Fall: Though the fall months have less inventory, this is often when the best deals are available. Often, this is the last time for sellers to get good deals. Lower demand tends to make sellers promote their properties more aggressively. Terms can also be more flexible in the fall months such as extended closing times or repairs on home inspections.
  • Market data

Paying attention to the data trends can make or break your investment deal. When the market is low and supply is high, that is the best time to invest. Times of low demand can vary by market. Find out trends such as list-to-sales average for multi-family homes, comparing this year’s number of listings with last year’s, and price reductions. For the type of multi-family homes you want to invest in, find out how many of them are for sale or have recently sold. How many days do they typically stay on the market?

While data shows that investors have a leg up during off-peak times of the year, the price is still the most important factor to weigh when investing in a multi-family home.