Here's a quick list of a few things to do and/or consider before taking your building to the market.
Step 1 - Seems pretty self-explanatory but gather all the financials you have on your building (preferably the last 3 years). This may include profit and loss statements, capital improvements, and leases.
Step 2 - Start doing some market research to see if there have been any recently sold buildings in your area. Although the incomes on each building may vary it is still good to get an idea of the sales activity going on in your market. www.padmint.com is a good source to start.
Step 3 - Use PadMint to get a range of your buildings current value and then contact a real estate professional to get their pricing opinions on your building, given the condition. How many units have been fixed up? How many units need to be fixed up? Is the roof in good condition? What about the plumbing? Although there are investment metrics to look at when trying to find an appropriate price (Price per square foot, price per unit, CAP rate, and GRM) it's also very important to understand the current condition of your building. Everyone tends to think their buildings are 100% fine but most of the time that isn't the case.
Step 4- If you are serious about selling your building (not just "I'll sell my building if I get a ridiculous price for it) now might be a good time to talk with your tenants to see if anyone is thinking about leaving soon. Why would you talk to the tenants about this? Well, if you have vacancies coming up this may factor into the pricing of your building. Most buyers prefer fixing up units so they can maximize the rents and improve the building. You may have multiple tenants planning on leaving in a month or two (the time of escrow) so you should use this to your advantage! You can market your property on the upside the new buyer will achieve once he fixes up the unit and achieves market rent! (However, don't forget that it costs the buyer money to fix up the unit to receive maximum rents!)
Step 5- Given the market activity, decide the strategy you want to use taking your building to the market. Do you want to price it low, receive multiple offers, and counter offer the potential buyers till you land at a best and final? Or is it better to list the property a little higher than market value because there aren't many opportunities in the given area making your building a little more special than an apartment building somewhere else? You should talk to your agent about the pros and cons. You don't want to go with a bad strategy and never get any interest on your building!
Step 6- Understand what kind of timeline you would like to have for an escrow. Are you more concerned with closing escrow quickly? Does it not matter when escrow closes? Some of these factors will also play into which strategy you decide to go with. It's good to be on the same page with the agent representing you so he can push to find the right buyer who will satisfy the terms you are looking for! I understand most people want "the quickest escrow possible with the highest price possible" but it's not always just that easy...
Step 7- Don't always go with the highest price offer! I know it's tempting but it's not always as pretty as it seems. Make sure there is some credibility in the offers you are receiving. There are a lot of "buyers" out there who never actually intend on buying the property for the price they have offered. They simply want to waste your time and ask for a price credit in escrow or else they will walk away from the deal. This can cost you weeks dealing with a buyer who was never actually serious in the first place. Ask to see how many buildings these potential buyers have purchased recently. Do they have a website you can look at? How do they plan on financing this purchase? It's easy for people to paint a picture that isn't actually true so just make sure you are communicating with your agent!
Step 8- Once you have accepted an offer make sure you get a timeline calendar from your agent. It's frustrating to not have any idea when certain paperwork is supposed to be signed and turned in. Getting everyone on the same page in the very beginning is the best way to make the escrow process go as smooth as possible. Luckily, you should have pulled together all of your paperwork in the beginning so it will be easy to relay this to the potential buyer in due diligence! Stay on top of your agent and make sure he sends all of the appropriate documentation so you can get ahead and not have to be stressing about things during the whole escrow!