Our company buys houses across the United States and we are constantly asked, “How do you do this successfully and live so far away from the properties you buy? How are you handling the rehab living so far away?” and “How are you so successful at this and not even living in the same states you’re investing in?” Here is my answer: I have an awesome power team of people that I trust in each and every market we go into. This team includes lenders, contractors, handymen, property managers, appraisers, attorneys, real estate agents and brokers, sign companies, insurance agents, tenants and buyers! It can sometime take a while to put this team together and yes you are probably going to go through a few not so great ones to get to the ones you like, know and trust. As your portfolio begins to grow, you will need more people on “your team”. The very BEST place to find these people is by a referral. That referral can come from another investor, a local real estate investment group member, a member of a local landlord association, a realtor, a friend or anyone else that you trust. Just be sure that they are “In the Business” and understand what it is that we do as investors. Always remember, the due diligence end of things is always your responsibility. Just because an investor recommends you use a certain agent, appraiser, lender or contractor does not mean they are the best person for the job. You should always get references from anyone you are even thinking of using.
Property Managers – Like your real estate agent and attorney, you need to find someone you can get along with. Interview them, as if you were going to rent a property to them. You want to make sure your property managers will handle your house like a landlord not a slumlord.
Insurance Agents- Shop Around to find an agent who can do non owner occupied (NOO) properties and give you a fair rate! I always look for a broker who can give me a competitive rate and is fair and most importantly, honest. I like to find insurance agents through referrals-that usually seems to be the best!
Lenders – This can be a tedious process. However, once you find just a couple of lenders in a specific area and they understand Investment property and NOO (Non-owner occupied) loans, you’re set! First and foremost, you will need to find someone that can loan in the area you are looking at investing in. There are private money and hard money lenders that are available in every state there is and sometimes using private money or hard money loans can be the easiest way to buy and rehab a house without using your own cash, especially if you don’t have good credit or much cash to put into the deal. Most private and hard money lenders charge anywhere from 4-8 points to originate the loan and 10-18% interest. This is not cheap, but it’s not really a horrible price to pay for the convenience of having money in 1-2 days. Sometimes, its not the cost of the money but the availability of the money that is most important. As long ad the yield is higher than the cost….that’s all that matters. In other words, if you are going to make more than what you spent to get into the deal, it should be a no-brainer! Here is the difference between lenders: Private and Hard Money Lenders are quick and can provide you with the cash you need quickly, but you are going to pay more. They provide a service that mortgage lenders and banks cannot typically do. They give you the money to purchase the house as well as provide the money to complete the rehab on the house. However, you must remember that you can’t keep a hard money loan on your property for any long period of time and expect to make any money-the money is expensive and will eat up your profits quickly. When taking out a private or hard money loan, you should not plan on keeping it more than 90-120 days at the most. If the project cannot be completed in that timeframe, don’t use hard money! To get a copy of our Hard Money Lender Rolodex, go to reitrainingcenter.com or reiconferences.com and enter your name and email on the popup that comes up.
Conventional Lenders are much less expensive but usually require better credit-at least decent credit. There is definitely more documentation and it takes a lot longer to complete a deal-typically 30-45 days to close. It’s nice to find a funding source that can provide both; however that’s usually not your typical scenario.
Whatever type of lender you decide to use, be sure to always line them up before you go searching for properties. It’s always best to have the money in place BEFORE you need it. Then, when you go to make offers, there I no delay. The last thing you want to do is get a property under contract only to find out you can’t get the money to purchase it. The investment market is a very small one and you definitely don’t want to develop a reputation for not being able to close deals!
Sign Companies – You can pick any sign company out of a phone book or wherever. I have previously used sign companies to put out and pick up signs in addition to showing my vacant properties to prospective tenants.
If you are going to manage your own properties, while living in another state, you will need a person to show the property to potential tenants. Realtors, Handymen and sometimes even appraisers can be great people to use for this, but sign companies are going to put out your signs in front of the house anyway. For a nominal fee, they may be willing to let someone in and show them the property. Don’t try to use a large national company for this. Call a local one-man type of shop. You can sometimes find them through referrals from other real estate investors or realtors.
Real Estate Agents & Brokers – This is not the easiest person to recruit for your team! You should never put all your eggs in one basket (ie…one realtor) However, you definitely want to develop strong relationships where agents know you, know you are a serious investor and that you are serious about purchasing multiple deals in one given area. You need to be on a mission to find a buyers agent who is willing to put in some legwork and then be compensated accordingly. If the agent knows you are looking to buy properties in this same area over and over again, they will almost always do whatever they can to accommodate you (take picture, email you comps in a timely fashion, for research, run the financials, etc) There are a lot of gents out there doing the real estate thing part time-those are not the ones you want. You also want to din agents whoa re investors themselves or who work with investors frequently and understand how to “play the game.”
After, you have a property in mind and you are calling an agent for the first time, you need to know a couple of things about the property. What work does the property need? What will it be worth once the work is done-that is the ARV (After repaired value)? What will this property rent for-what are rents in the area for properties similar to this one (Have them send you a rental analysis or something on paper-don’t just take their word. Alternatively, you can look in a local newspaper for the area and calla few local property management companies to verify local rents) What is the average time on the market if I were to resell the property? What do the ? mile and ? mile comps look like? If the agent can’t give you this information on a property , they are not the right agent. Also, you will want to make sure you find an agent who will go to the properties you are looking at buying and take several digital pictures and send them along to you. If they are not willing, find another agent! These agents need to understand that the chances are that you are going to buy this property without seeing it. They are acting as your eyes and ears on this purchase and its important that they look at this as if they were going to buy the property themselves and pay close attention to detail. After you purchase a home or two from one agent, they are going to be more willing to work with you and do what you need them to do. They want to see that you are serious and then they will usually perk up, pay attention and do whatever it is that you need them to do. This is the type of relationship you are seeking.
Attorneys – You need to employ the services of any attorney when wholesaling houses to other investors. We won’t get into the legalities and tax issues of “double closings”. This is where you use your buyer’s funds to pay the seller. You don’t spend any money out of your pocket. Your buyer writes a check to the attorney, the attorney pays the seller and writes you a check for the difference. Some attorneys will do this, some will not. If you don’t have the cash to fund the purchase, it’s nice to identify an attorney who will allow this. It can be as simple as asking. “Will they do a double close? And can you use buyers funds for your deal?” I recommend the honest approach, tell the attorney what it is that you want to accomplish and if he can make it work, great!
Before you decide who you are going to use, speak with a few different attorneys via telephone. Make sure are clear about your investment goals and what you are trying to achieve. Also make sure they are experienced attorneys who are used to working with investors because if the attorney understands you as an investor and what you are trying to accomplish, he or she can better protect you in the long run!
Tenants – If you are planning to buy, fix and rent out your properties, then you need to have tenants for your properties. Two great places to look if you want to rent your properties out through Section 8 is www.socialserve.com and www.gosection8.com. They will allow you to list your property in their databases for free and then those properties are marketed to tenants with section 8 vouchers who are looking for housing. This program is great and has saved me thousands of dollars in advertising costs to get tenants! If you decide not to rent your properties through section 8, you can run ads in the local newspaper. Also, be sure and put a sign in the yard letting everyone who drives or walks by the property that it is for rent. You will be surprised how quickly the word will travel!
Buyers – If you are going to wholesale a house here and there to another investor, you need to have a list of people that you can sell to and who buy houses wholesale to rehab and rent or sell. Its best to develop this list of people BEFORE you go out and put properties under contract.
As a company,, we have thousand of people on out list that say that they “Buy Properties.” However, our core list of really serious buyers who have lines of credit lined up and can pay cash for a property on a days notice is less than 100 people long. In your area, you need to know who that core group. You can always find buyers at your local landlord association or investment group meetings. You can also find buyers via referral through other investors or even agents. WE find a lot of our buyers online in local news and chat groups like yahoo as well. Ask local appraisers and title companies who the “Serious Investors” in the area are. They are usually more than willing to share this information with you. As you develop a reputation in a given market, the buyers will come to you for the deals. This is the best case scenario!
Appraisers, Handymen and Contractors – With these contacts, you not only need to find professionals that you trust and can work with. But you also you need someone that is preferably an investor themselves but if not, understands investment property and the end financial result you are seeking. A $45,000 home in a lower income neighborhood would be rehabbed differently than a $450,000 house in an expensive neighborhood and your appraiser and rehab crew need to understand those differences. Also your appraiser must understand the need to go through the house and give you an after repair value (ARV)as if any needed repairs were complete. In other words, he need to give you an AS-IS appraisal and at the same time a solid professional guesstimate of what the ARV will be when the property has been rehabbed completely.
You may need to go through a few appraisers to find a good one who is honest. You can usually call your bank or lender you are planning on using. This is sometimes best as they have specific lists of people they will and will not work with.
Take the same approach with your handymen and contractors. Tell them you need the job done for $4000, when you know it will cost $8,000. Make sure they are not cutting costs when they give you a bid, just to get the job. Some trimming is fine, but cutting the price in half, just to get the job, will almost always end up in a poor quality job as far as workmanship is concerned.
When identifying a new contractor, be tough. Ask for the moon and stars. Tell them that you want a rehab quote with pictures and estimates broken down by labor and materials as well as room by room. If they offer to give you this, then you have someone who is flexible and is willing to work with you.
Since time is the biggest factor when rehabbing a house, make sure your contractor gives you a firm date that the job will be completed. Also, when getting bids,make sure you get them back from the contractor in a timely manner. If you have a 7 day inspection clause in your purchase contract, tell your contractor “We are rushed and need thi back within 48 hours. Can you get this done for us right away and fax the bid to me within 48 hours?” You want to make sure they follow through on what they promise.
Also, send more than one handyman or contractor to a job, unless you’ve worked with them before. If you are working with someone new, make sure they are not the only quote you get. They may be too high or may do poor work and you will have no idea-even if they have been referred. If you get three or four bids for that same house, you will have a really solid idea of the scope of work and an accurate price of what it’s going to cost you to rehab that property.
About the Author
Please feel free to check Charrissa Cawley’s websites at REI Conferences or REI Training Center for other great Real Estate Investing Resources, tips and trends! Type in your name and email address and then click on Free Resources. You will find a tremendous amount of FREE and useful information! Feel free to give us a call at 1-888-2500-6616.