My Process

3 Replies

Hello, again!  I have been saving my questions for weekends, so that's why you are seeing more than one post from me today.  Sorry if I am flooding!  I am trying to perform good research and not to ask questions that have already been answered.

Anyway, if you have read my intro post, then you know I am not an agent or an investor... yet :)  I am trying to learn as much as I can and execute one good flip within the next couple of years to learn the process.  In the meantime, I have been reading a ton of BP forums and blog posts.  However, I have also been performing the following actions.  I was wondering if someone with experience could tell me if I am doing anything right or what I can do to improve my learning.

First, I have been looking at residential foreclosures on Zillow and Redfin in random cities and neighborhoods.  Honestly, I just pick a state and look at a cluster of dots, then zoom in and review a property's, description, pictures, tax history, and sale history.

Then, I have been using recently sold property data from Zillow and MLS (whatever meager access I have to it) to figure comps and ARV in the local area around my selected foreclosure. Oh, I've been comparing my concluded ARV to the "Zestimate" to see if I am close... not that I know what I am doing...

After I determine my ARV, I start flat out guessing my repair costs. I have had a contractor perform work in my home before and I watch a ton of rehab shows (I know... I know...). So, I estimate kitchen guts at $20K, bathroom guts at $15K, and miscellaneous at $10K. Basically, I start with the $10K. If the pictures make the kitchen or bathroom look bad, then I add those costs. Then, after I get my repair total, I add 50% for fudge factors.

Then, I estimate my holding costs at 6 months.  I use tax data for property taxes.  I use the foreclosure data to estimate mortgage payments and interest 15%.  Then, I add $500 per month for power, gas, and insurance.

Then, I plug this into the 70% rule to reverse determine my ARV to see if it could be a good deal. For example:

Foreclosure cost is $150K.  Repair cost is $30K for a kitchen gut and other miscellaneous.  Add $15K to repair for fudge, and repairs are a total of $45K.  Monthly holding costs will be $800 for the loan and $500 for the utilities.  That is $7800 total over 6 months.

Now, if I learned the 70% rule well enough, the holding costs shouldn't be greater than one-third of the 30%. I will account for this in a second. The 70% rule focuses on ARV and repair costs. The math is as follows: (ARV * .7) - Repair = max buy-it line.

Therefore, ARV = (max + repair) / .7 => ARV = (150K + 45K) / .7 => ARV = $278.5K

I have to have ARV of $278.5K or greater for this to be a good deal. Now, to check my holding costs, 30% or $278.5K is $83,500. One-third of 83,500 is $27,555. Subtracting my estimated holding costs of $7800 from that leaves nearly $20K in flexible repair costs and about $55K in profit.

My question to all of you is, am I doing anything wrong?  I don't want to learn bad habits early, so what can I do to improve my learning process?  Please keep in mind that I am nowhere near ready to buy a property yet... I am just trying to learn the language and get the eye for a deal.  Thanks!


@Kevin Keene  , 

Here are my thoughts:

First off, you should definitely NOT be relying at all on Zestimate for values.

Secondly, it took me a bit to figure out what you were doing with the ARV calculator formula. Yes, you could rearrange the formula they way you did and it makes mathematical sense, but I think it messes with the psychology.  If you say, "I can get the house for $150K so the ARV better be $278.5K to make it work" I worry you would end up fudging numbers a bit to make it work because it seems a bit more committed already. 

Instead, you should approach it the way the formula is stated. Find ARV (again, not from Zestimates), estimate repairs and then determine max allowable offer. The property has to be purchasable at that price, or you don't do that deal.

I know it seems like semantics because, yes, you can rearrange the formula but if you have the foregone conclusion of what the purchase price is, you could be tempted to fudge repairs or choose slightly better comps to make it work, but if the comps and repairs are figured out objectively, then you can't argue with the MAO.

Hope you follow my thinking.  

@Brett Russell,

Thank you for your reply! I completely understand your statement on the psychology of manipulating the 70% rule math. I will keep the math the way it is meant to be and not fall into that trap. I appreciate the recalibration!

As for Zestimates, I understand they are not law. I was just using them as a tool until I find out what real tool I should be using. So, other than MLS data on sold properties, is there anything I can use as Joe Nobody to be able to better understand this process?

Also, would you have any other comments on my procedure? Am I doing anything right? Barring the math, is there any other step I can improve to learn more about this process? Thanks again for your reply!


@Kevin Keene  

I would just concentrate on recent comps to estimate ARV.

I am still very much learning myself... figuring out the mentality and steps, but still working on taking as much action as I should.  Rehab estimates is a big concern for me.  I'm working thought J Scott's books (available under the "Learn" tab of the blue navigation bar) and would recommend them to you as well.

Finally, just an FYI, to use the @mention functionality, you have to start typing the person's name (or just @?) and then wait a second for potential names to popup under the reply box and click on it.  It doesn't work to just type the person's name after the @ symbol.  Not totally obvious when you first start using it.  I've seen so many people think they are doing it correctly that I finally just made a keyword alert for my name so I don't miss a mention.


Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you