Real Estate investing is a brutal business. The stakes are high, they days are long and many find the business isn’t as glamorous as many make it out to be on network television. But for some serious investors high profits and a stable career await.
What differentiates the winners from the losers in Real Estate Investing? The simple answer is analytics. Like any business is all about the numbers. The old cliché that you make your money when you buy and get paid when you sell is all too true. Buying carefully is a common trait amongst all successful Real Estate investors.
Breaking down a purchase into three main steps can help isolate the stages in which many successful investors make great buys. The primary step is securing the funds, in Real Estate, you have to pay to play. Many investors – even highly successful ones use leverage money to make their buys. Leveraged money is borrowing other people’s money in addition to their own to make a purchase. Taking $100,000 and putting twenty-percent down on five $100,000 properties allows them to leverage their $100,000 five times.
Leveraged money comes with costs. You must begin thinking of your exit strategy and ask yourself, “How long do I anticipate holding this property.” The money you borrow is usually at a high interest rate and significantly eat up profits if your calculations are off. Additionally, money can be hard to come by – securing it advance will ensure you can act quickly on a great Real Estate investment.
The second primary prong of the decision making process, which was touched on earlier, is to determine your exit strategy. Do you intend to buy and hold, or do you intent on becoming a Real Estate Flipper? Both methods have great opportunities but will affect the way you finance and purchase a property.
For example, if your intention is to buy and hold, the prudent Real Estate investor would want to maximize rents (and monetize the property while they hold it). Knowing the average rents for an area is key and it’s also highly important to know local vacancy averages to determine your estimated rent collection. Many novice Real Estate investors will overlook many key expenses of owning a rental unit. Making a list of all potential maintenance issues for the next five years in addition to your taxes, insurance, legal and management fees. You may find that a deal isn’t so much of a deal when all the cards are on the table.
On the other hand, Flippers need to watch their bottom line. Television has glamorized Flipping. Flipping properties is not about buying an ugly home and filling it with expensive upgrades. Get into a property at a great price and enhance the value and marketability with specific, targeted upgrades to the home. Know your competition. If you are targeting a $150,000 price range find out what sets you apart from the competition. If you can’t find anything – you need to, or lower your price. Aim to be in the top 20% of condition and lowest 20% of price in the neighborhood.
Lastly, have a plan “B.” Every serious and consistent investor I know has a plan “B.” The old mantra, Try-Fail-Adjust is the right attitude. If your flip isn’t selling and you can’t afford to drop the price, consider the long or short term hold method and curb some of the expenses until you can sell the property, or consider other more creative financing options. Non-traditional Real Estate deals are happening more than ever, trading cars, notes, and lease options are commonplace in today’s rapidly changing Real Estate Market.
Key points to consider when investing: Do your home work, plan your exit, and have a plan “B.” Real Estate is a great career and with a little diligence, can be wildly successful for anyone willing to invest in Real Estate.