117: Tips for Better Multifamily Operations, with Axel Ragnarsson

Welcome to the Managing CRE Risk podcast with Jeremy Goodrich. Our guest today is Axel Ragnarsson, an investor from Boston, MA with over 300 doors in his portfolio. In this conversation, we go deep into how to elevate your operations and manage risks in the current market. Axel shares with us the key things to look out for while underwriting, how to find the best property managers, and how to become a stellar operator. If you’re into the multifamily market, then this episode is a must for you!

Learn more about Axel and his journey at shineinsurance.com/managing-commercial-real-estate-risk!

“There’s so much fear in the market right now related to interest rates.”


At the beginning of our conversation, Axel explains what he sees as the biggest risk investors take nowadays. According to him, interest rates and cap rates are changing rapidly so it’s even harder to buy at the right price. Therefore, investors should be more conservative with their underwriting. 

However, there are still many opportunities in the current multifamily market as there is a lot of liquidity and rents are still going up.

“A really significant component that separates the exceptional investors from the average ones, is they have a tight handle on the CapEx process.”


Axel shares his advice on the key things to focus on as an operator for a successful property.

  • Be conservative in your dept assumption, cap rate assumption, and rent assumption.
  • Make sure you stay on your renovation budget and CapEx budget.
  • Don’t just focus on your cash flow. 
  • Have a clear plan for your expenses for the next few years.

“We’ve ended relationships with owners before and we can always trace it back to poor expectation setting and poor communication upfront.”


At the end of the episode, Axel talks about how to succeed in property management as an operator.

  • Get on the same page with your property management company before closing on a property. Share your underwriting with them and see if they can hit the metrics.
  • Set your communication requirements and stick to them.
  • Ask what software they’re using. It should be one of the “Big 5”.
  • Ask around for referrals from previous clients.

About Our Guest, Axel Ragnarsson

Axel is a New Hampshire native and has been a full-time real estate investor in the NH area for 5+ years. He purchased his first multifamily property during his sophomore year at the University of New Hampshire. Shortly after, he caught the real estate bug, leading to the founding of his real estate investment firm, Brickleaf Properties. Currently, Brickleaf Properties owns approximately $7M in multifamily real estate and has been a principal party in $20M+ worth of transactions.

Axel is also the Host of the Multifamily Wealth Podcast, where he interviews successful real estate investors (link at the bottom of the page). He is a huge New England sports fan, likes to golf, ski, and travel. 

Mentioned in the show:

  1. http://alignedrep.com/
  2. The Multifamily Wealth Podcast
  3. His LinkedIn
  4. Shineinsurance.com
  5. www.shineinsurance.com/managing-commercial-real-estate-risk
  6. Jeremy’s LinkedIn

Need an instant insurance ballpark for your next Multifamily deal?! Answer 9 simple questions and we’ll give you a sense of what insurance should be. Visit us here for everything you need to know: https://www.shineinsurance.com/ballpark/ 

Special thanks to Axel Ragnarsson for taking the time to share so many great insights with us

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Until the next time, We truly appreciate you listening.

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