While prices are definitely up from the bottom set during the Great Recession, great real estate properties abound. You just have to look for them and know how to recognize them when you come across them. With some outside help, you can take advantage of today's market.
Finding Great Real Estate Properties
Unless you have a staff of your own that can search for properties, you're going to need to build a good relationship with a real estate agent that specializes in investment properties, as opposed to an owner-occupied buyer rep. A good agent that specializes in investments should bring these and other benefits to the table:
- A system to notify you immediately when suitable properties hit the Multiple Listing Service so that you don't miss out by being late to the table. Their systems should also be geared to submitting your offers as quickly as possible.
- Relationships with lenders and special servicers to give you access to their lists of "Real Estate Owned" (REO) properties which include foreclosures and short sales.
- Vendor relationships that can meet the unique needs of an investor. This includes a title company that has experience underwriting properties with the title issues that frequently come up with the best investment opportunities.
Valuing Great Real Estate Properties
To identify the best real estate investment opportunities, don't worry too much about the price. As long as you know that you're paying at or below market value, you're in the right ballpark. What really matters is the difference between what you spend on the property and what you can sell it for.
To calculate this, research the market carefully so that you know what a rehabilitated non-distressed property will sell for when it is sold. Do your best to inspect the property and come up with an estimate of what it will cost you to rehabilitate. You can then use the data you collected to come up with an estimate of your true cost for the property and an estimate of your net proceeds when you sell. As you do this, remember that even if banks in your area are still reluctant to lend on distressed real estate properties, private lenders can help you out.
Calculate your return by subtracting your total cost from your net selling price. You can find the percentage return by dividing the return by your total cost. If it meets your goals, by all means, invest.