Real Estate Investing Basics

Despite Setbacks, We Just Landed Our First Investment Property: Here’s How

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If you recall my most recent article, it was about the first mistake we made in real estate investing. Luckily (or unluckily), it cost us $750. But we certainly learned from our mistake. Losing money is a very good driver to keep us from making the same mistake twice. So, once we wrapped up that minor debacle, we pushed forward and kept up the search for our first investment property in the Fayetteville, NC market.

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The Hunt is On!

I spent the following Friday weeding through every app and website that I knew of to find both on and off market properties within our parameters. To say this was time-consuming may be an understatement. Still, I had a goal and didn’t want to let the previous mistake completely derail us. After making a list of all potentials, we both sat down later that night and went through them together. That narrowed our list to 14 properties, which was much more manageable than the original 30ish I had pegged.

With those properties targeted, I sent the list to my agent and set her off to begin contacting listing agents and getting disclosures. We had a trip planned for Sunday, so she had her work cut out for her. Let me preface this by saying that I know this timeline was much too short and have been much more relaxed on subsequent searches.

When Sunday rolled around, she was able to gain the information needed for nine of the properties. Since some of the other properties were foreclosures and bank owned, she was unable to get a response on the weekend.

Related: The Ultimate 60-Day Action Plan for the Paralyzed Newbie Longing for a First Deal

An Interesting Side Note

There was actually a 10th property on this list, about which my agent was speaking with the listing agent the night prior. It was one of the properties highest up on our list of potentials, so we were very interested. The listing agent told us that there was a lot of interest in this one and that they already had offers on the table. Apparently, the seller was going to make a decision the next day, so if we wanted to be in the running, we would have to put a loose offer on the table.

We decided to throw our hat in the ring, but only under the condition that we would be seeing the property the next day, and if we didn't like it then, we wouldn't be submitting a formal offer. Therefore, we offered $4,000 over asking price (as it was priced to sell in the first place, with a good amount of positive equity), $1,000 DD (due diligence), and $500 EM (earnest money).

When our agent arrived at our house the next morning to discuss the route and the order of the properties, she got a call from the listing agent informing us that we weren’t in the running. This meant that they wouldn’t give us the lock box code to even see the property. I told my agent that I still wanted to be able to walk the property just in case the deal fell through—because we all know that happens! The listing agent refused. We were disappointed, but still had nine other properties to see.

So, here’s where the funny part comes in. We are currently looking for our second investment property, and this property just happens to be back on the market. The deal fell through. Go figure!

The Second Time

The listing agent just happened to reach out to my agent a week ago to see if we were still interested. We were, especially because we have the funding for our next deal. But—and here’s the kicker—they had multiple offers again and wanted us to throw our hat back in the ring. Since we weren’t able to get down there any time soon and still hadn’t seen the property, we said no thank you.

Here in NC, once an offer is accepted, you have 24 hours to deliver the DD and EM. But if you recall, we have no intention of doing anything sight unseen again, so that simply wouldn’t work. So, this one was out, unless it still happens to be on the market when we finally make it back down there.

The Third Time

The third twist to this story is that my Fayetteville agent just sent me this property as a potential—YESTERDAY! It is still on the market and has fallen across my lap three times now. This being said, I am starting to wonder if this is a property that we are supposed to own. I suppose only time will tell because I still haven’t been able to see the darned thing.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Consider a Duplex as Your First Home Purchase

The Offer

On our trip to Fayetteville, we did run across a few lemons that we had no desire to even walk. The pictures made these potential properties look SO much better than they actually were in reality. Long story short, we narrowed it down to two properties and started negotiating.

The first property was a 3/1 with a large laundry room that just needed a dishwasher. The second was a 3/1.5 with a fenced-in backyard, a “man cave,” and all appliances, including a washer and dryer. Both properties were being sold by the adult children of widows, and neither had been a rental previously. These are the types of properties that I really like—because, for the most part, they have been loved and taken care of. They usually only need upgrades, but nothing major. This is true most of the time, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

On the first property, they were asking $45,000, so we offered $40,000. They were asking $49,900 for the second property, so we offered $47,500. We felt comfortable offering more on that one because of a few reasons:

  • This one was bigger.
  • It had an extra half bath.
  • This one had all appliances.
  • It had a fenced-in yard.
  • The assessed property value was much higher.
  • The neighborhood seemed nicer.

The very next day, within two minutes of each other, both agents called my agent back and accepted the verbal offers. So, now we were in a pickle. We didn’t have the capital to purchase both properties, so we had to make a list of pros and cons to make a decision.

Ultimately, we settled on the second property because it made the most sense.

First Investment Property

Where We Are Now

This one had a fast closing also, but since I had already seen the property, I was much more confident in it. I had walked the property, so I had an idea of some of the things my inspector might find. None of these items turned out to be major. He only found minor things, like the windows being painted shut. I have run across this practice more than once in the elderly community, so I wasn’t surprised. I have fixed this issue already with my trusty box cutter.

Other than the few minor issues, the property was in good shape and basically rent-ready. The man cave could use some updating because the carpet is pretty ugly. But we are hoping to get it rented in its current condition to start with.

Ultimately, we closed on the property on Friday, December 29th. I went down there with two of the kids on Saturday the 30th to fix a few of the minor issues and meet with my property manager. That way, they could take marketing pictures and get it on the market.

It has been on the market since then. We were hoping that it would be rented by now. But all of the snow that has been going on here in NC has put a crimp in that. We are crossing our fingers that it will be rented by the end of January. Still, only time and Mother Nature will tell.

Now that we have our first investment property, it is time for us to start working on our second. Stay tuned for that adventure!

Where are you on the journey to your first investment property?

Share your struggles and successes below!

Shanah and her partner Bryan are buy and hold real estate investors in the NC market. They own BellBert Investments, LLC (contact: [email protected]) and are always looking for new ways...
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    Greg Parker Contractor from Montgomery, AL
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Good job. What are the numbers (cash flow, insurance, etc.)?
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Greg! The property is renting at $725 a month and we pay 8% for Property Management (which comes out to $58 a month). So if my math is correct, then we are getting an 14% ROI, because we spent $48k total to purchase (with inspections). But if we include the Insurance ($612 annually) and the proposed Property Taxes ($948 annually) then we are looking at an ROI of 13%.
    Ty Little from Spring Lake, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great story of perseverance. I also invest in Fayetteville. I’ll PM to connect when you be a chance.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Sounds great, Ty! I would love to connect with other local investors in the Fayetteville market. Please PM me!
    Stephanie Hibbard Real Estate Agent from Savannah, GA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Shanah, I love following your journey. Thanks for sharing!
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Stephanie! I love sharing because we are all in this together and it is awesome to be able to learn from others failures, as much as their successes.
    Calixto Garcia
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. I really like when other people succeed. I just began my real estate journey, and see you going hunting for your dream motive me even more.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Calixto! I am glad that our journey so far has motivated you in your real estate journey. Would love to hear how your journey is shaping up!
    Replied over 2 years ago
    An ugly carpet or floor can make the difference in the quality of renter you get and keep. If you can do even minor upgrades upfront it will keep perspective tenants from minimizing the value of the ptoperty. As a realtor I have seen clients pick some minor item that was out of line as a way to try to negotiate a lower rent (it worked). If you lower rent you might as well update the carpet/floor or other item to maintain a higher rent now and in the future. As investors we constantly evaluate the fine balance between necessary repairs and over-improvements as they affect our bottom line. Best wishes.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I completely agree with your assessment, Vicki. I have seen this exact same mentality when I sold my previous property. We were working on getting an estimate to replace the carpet (because while I can replace LVT and LVP, I have absolutely zero experience replacing carpet. But before we could get the estimate back, we found a renter. So for now, we are going to take the renter and plan to replace the carpet whenever we need to do our first turn. The big deciding factor for us was that we really needed to try and recoup some of the up front costs before we start throwing more money into the property. I realize that is probably not the best way to go about it, but it is just how everything went down on this one.
    Kirk Kitchin
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I enjoyed reading your real estate investing adventure in Fayetteville, NC story. I own several rental units in North Carolina but not any in Fayetteville. If you thought your Fayetteville realtor did a good job for you, could you share their name with me? I have looked for good rental opportunities in Fayetteville before, both with and without a realtor. Thanks for sharing your story
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Kirk! So far, we really like the Fayetteville market. However, our agent is looking in Raleigh and Durham for some off market deals currently also. We use Sandra Gooch-Hollis with Weaver Dairy Real Estate ([email protected]). However, our local Property Manager (Tiffany Myers with The Key Group) is also keeping an eye out for us in Fayetteville since she is a Broker and an Investor in that market. We didn’t know her before we started this journey, but she is fantastic. Basically, after this current deal we are working on (a group of 7 off market properties from the same seller who is retiring) through Sandra, we are planning to use Tiffany for Fayetteville deals and Sandra for Raleigh/Durham deals since that is where she resides (like us). Either way, Sandra has been fantastic so far and really goes above and beyond!
    Jenni Rivera from Melbourne, Florida
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I love your blog and writing style. It helps me because you break everything down so simply! Thank you.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I am glad that I can help, Jenni. I try to make everything as simplistic as possible when I write and explain things. This probably has a lot to do with my teaching background and the fact that we have 5 kids. Either way, I am happy that our journey has come across so clearly!
    Lacey S. from Carrboro, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    That area of NC has a lot of flooding issues, how have you checked that you are not in the flood plain? I’ve tried looking at the flood plain maps and found them to be almost incomprehensible!
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    You are correct that it can get really flooded depending on the weather. There are a couple of large rivers flowing through that area, so we avoid anything that is too close to them. It helps that we have friends who live in Fayetteville, so they give us a pretty good lay of the land. Our Property Manager (Tiffany Myers with The Key Group) is also extremely helpful on this front. You are correct when it comes to the flood plain maps though, as they are pretty horrible there!
    Joel Montano from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Afternoon Shanah Bell, Great stuff, I am also in the NC Market, so reading your post provides great insight on whats going within the area. Hope you have a great day!
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thanks, Joel! What area of NC do you purchase properties in?
    ReAnna Hooks from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Yes yes yes!!! I enjoyed reading your story because I am also in NC and just staring out. very motivating and glad to see so motivated. I pray that you have a wonderful journey in RE.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Reanna! I appreciate the good wishes and hope your journey is going splendidly also. Where are you investing in the NC market currently?
    Ronny Tiburcio from New York City, NY
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Really cool story. Wish you lots of luck.
    Shanah Bell from Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thank you, Ronny! We really appreciate it!
    Ciera Hall
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi Shan How did you find your real estate agent? I currently live in the area of Virginia but looking for an agent in NC. Not sure how to find a good on in the area that specializes in investment properties
    Chandler Burns from Kansas City, MO
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great job!