If I find a good area, what do I do w/ the info in the listings?

6 Replies

Hello! I'm starting out -- slowly. I'm looking in the Baltimore area for possible buy-and-hold properties to rent out, but this question is general for any region.

Let's say I've read around and looked in person and so I make a search on Zillow for a specific neighborhood I think is reasonable, say, 21212, with my maximum price of $150,000.

What comes up is many properties, ranging from $30k to $130k. They are of all different sizes, conditions, number of bedrooms, some are in foreclosure, some are on auction, some for sale -- and all of these different qualities make it hard for me to compare. How do you know what is cheap meaning it's a great deal versus cheap because it's something to avoid? When you see places that are falling apart, how do you know whether it's the good sort of "needs work" place versus the avoid-at-all-costs disaster?

I'm just clueless about what to do with all of this information as well as what other information I still need. My first instinct is to apply the 1% rule, but how do I know what a property is going to realistically rent for? How do I know what makes a good deal? I know a common answer is that I have to network, get out there, ask around, etc. but I am still confused on what information I am supposed to be trying to find out from these efforts. For example, if I were to call a realtor about this neighborhood, what information should I be asking to get a clearer picture of which properties are good or not? Other than just stating, "Tell me which places are good deals". . .

I see the search results, supposedly this is a good area from my research, but I can't make sense of WHAT I'm seeing when I see these listings.

I would be very grateful if someone could walk me through their steps, even if the search results are all hard passes, so I can see what you actually do with the research (i.e. "This first property catches my eye because A, B, and C. But these certain qualities X, Y, Z make it bad so I'm passing.")


The beginner material says "make sure a place fits your criteria" but I don't understand the search results. Even seeing it in person, I wouldn't know what it is I need to know or ask.

@Jared G. two things you need to learn

  • How to evaluate deals
  • Learn your market so you know what numbers to plug into the formulas. 

The first you can do here on BP. Look under the education tab. There are many free resources like Ultimate Free Beginners Guide Many threads here talk about how to evaluate deals. 

The next think is you need to go out into the market and look at properties. The more deals you look at and evaluate the better you will become at evaluating deals. I literally look at and evaluate thousands of deals a year. 

Here are a couple of ideas to speed the process. Any time you see a property being worked on, stop and talk to whoever is there. You will either meet another investor. You can ask him about the deal and the numbers or you will meet a contractor and be able to see his work and ask how much it cost. Both can be valuable contacts.

The other Idea is go to some public onsite auctions. AJ Billig, or Ashland Auctions, for example do many auctions every week. Go into the prperty and try to asses what you think it will sell for. Then watch the auction and you will see in real time what other investors think it is worth. Network and talk to other buyers there. After the auction ask some of them how they evaluated the deal and why they bid what they bid.

PS bonus idea, go out to the various investor groups in the area and network. One of the best is the Friday landlord lunches. Search here I've posted about them several times. they also have a Facebook group.

@Ned Carey Ned, thanks for your continued help and above all patience with my questions. Here's my train of thought on this: I'm interested in investing in Baltimore but live in DC proper, so while I can go there, I don't think I can just wander around to "explore." At least not regularly. I am in the beginning stages of just trying to use the resources here to figure out what neighborhoods make sense in the most basic of terms. I'm not even at the stage of looking at street by street because I have no idea what makes one neighborhood worth focusing on over another.

To be clear, I will go to Baltimore and will engage in these activities, but I want to make the best use of my time doing so. If I don't even know where to start, or how much places rent for, or the difference between a property needing work and a non-starter, are people out in the community really the best to answer these very broad questions? Surely there should be some way of determining this online so I can then go out there with this knowledge and get more specifics? How many hours would it take to get general information about dozens of Baltimore neighborhoods through personal interactions?

Originally posted by @Jared G. :

@Ned Carey Ned, thanks for your continued help and above all patience with my questions. Here's my train of thought on this: I'm interested in investing in Baltimore but live in DC proper, so while I can go there, I don't think I can just wander around to "explore." At least not regularly. I am in the beginning stages of just trying to use the resources here to figure out what neighborhoods make sense in the most basic of terms. I'm not even at the stage of looking at street by street because I have no idea what makes one neighborhood worth focusing on over another.

To be clear, I will go to Baltimore and will engage in these activities, but I want to make the best use of my time doing so. If I don't even know where to start, or how much places rent for, or the difference between a property needing work and a non-starter, are people out in the community really the best to answer these very broad questions? Surely there should be some way of determining this online so I can then go out there with this knowledge and get more specifics? How many hours would it take to get general information about dozens of Baltimore neighborhoods through personal interactions?

 If you want to invest in Baltimore....go to the Anne Arundel investors meetup. Most of the investors there invest in Baltimore. Learn, and decide if it is the kind of place you want to invest.

https://www.meetup.com/Unofficial-Biggerpockets-Real-Estate-Meetup-Anne-Arundel/

@Russell Brazil Oh crap. I was going to go last night and got so wrapped up in work I forgot about it.   

@Jared G. I do not live in Baltimore. I live in laurel.  I learned the city from scratch when I started so you can do it to. I recommend the Friday lunches at Spirits West. Great networking. Sometimes people will leave from there to look at properties and let you follow along.  That is a great way to learn the city.

Originally posted by @Ned Carey :

@Russell Brazil Oh crap. I was going to go last night and got so wrapped up in work I forgot about it.   

@Jared G. I do not live in Baltimore. I live in laurel.  I learned the city from scratch when I started so you can do it to. I recommend the Friday lunches at Spirits West. Great networking. Sometimes people will leave from there to look at properties and let you follow along.  That is a great way to learn the city.

 I wentx was sort of a last minute thing because Scott asked if I was going, we are working on a deal together. Wasnt too bad, Brook and Jarred did a presentation.