Many new real estate investors get their initial education from one of the many info products that have been developed over the years – and there is nothing wrong with this approach. In fact, a few of these info products are collecting dust in my office right now. What’s interesting to me is how much of this information has become out-dated in such a short period of time.
During last decade’s boom years in the real estate industry, investors had to learn how to “mine” for the really good deals. This usually entailed marketing to distressed sellers who were desperate to sell or were willing to hold back a note. Just about everybody has seen the bandit signs around certain intersections with messages like “We Buy Ugly Houses” or “Sell Your House in 5 Days.” This is all about finding sellers who would potentially sell their house for less than market value or who have the potential to structure a short sale on their property.
While finding distressed sellers is still a viable strategy, the question real estate investors have to ask themselves now is whether it’s the best strategy. With the glut of foreclosures on the market, there is an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on REOs, HUDs and other properties that are (or have been) listed on your local MLS. It’s been my experience in recent years that the need to find individual distressed sellers isn’t worth the effort and expense – banks have become the new distressed sellers and the opportunities are incredible.
I have talked to a handful of newbie investors in recent months who have just completed an education course (that was developed 5 years ago) and are out there marketing for distressed sellers. Again, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this and the viability of this strategy will differ from market to market. However, you have to ask yourself whether chasing down these types of deals makes sense when there are so many other readily available deals that can be negotiated. Why would I spin my wheels for 5 months negotiating a short sale when an identical property down the street can be purchased for the same price from a wholesaler who happened to negotiate a great REO deal?
Our real estate market is a very dynamic market. What worked a year ago doesn’t necessarily work today. I’ve been a full time real estate investor since 2005 and can honestly say the investing landscape is vastly different than when I started. As investors, it’s important we pay close attention to changes in the industry so that our time, energy and profits can be maximized using strategies that make sense in today’s market.