Finding a successful apartment is a unique experience, nothing like buying a home for your family. Its actually more like buying your first car.
My first car was a 1987 Honda Civic hatchback. I was borrowing money from my mom to buy it. I really didn't care what it looked like or how fast it went. Does it work? Is it cheap? Does it have seatbelts? Will it cost me a lot to fix? Do the seats fold back.
A good apartment building is clean, safe and affordable. I don't mean to say its clean and safe when you buy it... you may need to take a construction loan and remodel it into being clean and safe... but most of all its affordable.
You will get many 'do overs' and '2nd chances' in Real Estate. Typically you only buy the building once. Make sure to do it right.
When looking at buildings consider the following:
Access - How safe do you feel walking up to building? Is these easy access in and out?
Structure - Is the building in need of structural repairs, tuckpointing or new framing?
Water - Is water getting into our leaking from walls or ceiling?
General Condition - Are the electrical boxes, gas lines, sewer lines, foundation in good shape. SPEND THE MONEY FOR A HIGH QUALITY INSPECTION REPORT!!
Zoning - What is the zoning of the building? Are there non-conforming uses?
History - What is the history of the building? Were there fires? Who owned it
Repairs - What repairs have been done? What is the quality of the repairs? Has it been damaged?
Neighbors - Who are your neighbors? Are they happy? Are they not?
Learn as much as you can about the building before engaging, give yourself plenty of inspection time, leverage your team to get fully emerged in the plan for the property.
Do not be afraid to walk away or ask for seller credits/work. You get once chance to buy, make it count!