Real Estate Report: multi-unit investments

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STATEWIDE (WGME) -- The housing crunch in Greater Portland has some people considering multi-unit investments.

"If you are looking to put yourself or your family into a good financial position, it's 100% worth it," says Kirk Larkin, who made the move from renter to owner two years ago.

Larkin bought the 3-unit building he was living in from his landlord.

"We saw very quickly that we could pay our mortgage with the rents from the two other apartments," says Larkin.

Buyer Specialist John Fitzsimons at Portside Real Estate Group says investing in a multi-family property provides opportunities.

"A lot of people are seeing Portland grow and I think they're trying to figure out a way to be able to afford to live on the peninsula," Fitzsimons says.

He says it also comes with responsibilities, like being a landlord.

"I think that there are some people who don't necessarily want to deal with the phone calls, that 'my heat's not working' or 'I don't have enough parking'," Fitzsimons says.

Larkin says he had those concerns too, but was pleasantly surprised.

"I'm somebody who was very intimidated by having to fix things or having to answer questions about, 'do we need a water heater' or taking calls at night, all of these things that you hear about" Larkin says, "and it really hasn't gone that way."

Fitzsimons says hiring a property manager can alleviate a lot of stress.

"They can do everything from filling the units to advertising them, to collecting the rent, to doing the maintenance," Fitzsimons says.

He also suggests working with someone who's made this investment before and prepare for projects, because the housing stock in Portland is typically early 1900s, late 1800s.

If you're a first-time homebuyer, Fitzsimons says stick to a 2-3 unit building. He recommends living there too.

"Owner-occupying is definitely the way to get your feet wet and really learn how a building operates and the things that it needs," Fitzsimons says.

It's an investment Larkin says is better than he could have imagined.

"It's gone very well," Larkin says.

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