Can great deals really fall to sites like Zillow,trulia, etc

9 Replies

I am a new investor from North Carolina stationed in San Diego (active duty) I am currently looking to wholesale and collect rentals. With all that said I do not have access to the mls where a lot of great deals get taken before they are released to someone such as my self. My question/concern is Can I have success working off of these websites such as Zillow trulia Craigslist and the other thousand real estate websites. I have found a few that look like they will cash flow well but one imparticular has caught my eye. 5 br 3 bath 2100 sq ft just outside of charlotte great location great neighborhood where the homes average 180000. This particular property is forclosure for sale by lender for 181000 which Ik I can get it for lower but by running the numbers for the asking price For a rental I can cash flow 500+ and cash on cash with 50000 invested (down payment and repairs) 14%. So as a rookie am I missing something or do deals like this just sometimes slip threw the cracks? Thanks for the help in advance!

Forgot to add that this property looks to need very few repairs needs carpet torn up and replaced. Maybe cut some shrubs from view.

I would find another site to use, Zillow has some super outdated stuff on their site and misses other active stuff. Back in 2012 I used Zillow and found a prospect for a flip, wen over to Redfin to see some bother information that they show and the property had already been bought, flipped and was up for sale over $100k higher. Also I have friends who are looking to buy a house and he sent me 2 properties he found on Zillow and one sold a month ago and the other is bank owned but not for sale. Try realtor.com they seem to have up to date info and are in pretty much all markets I believe. Good luck!

Now that you mention it I have found a lot of out of date information I thought that was just rules of the game. Thank you for the insight.

@Chris A Godbolt I'll answer the question and say "sure, it's possible". I've bought more than one property that I first found on the Zillows, Truilas, Realtor.coms, etc. of the world. That said I either made my offer in a week or made the offer to a grizzled, old, stale property. And these were all multi-unit properties that weren't going to appeal to the average homeowner. I got all a decent amount under the "asking" price but I think you have a little leverage when you're either the first offer or the entire investment ecosystem has passed on the property at the list price. Your world of looking at an SFR is a little different because you're "competing" against every Tom, Dick, and Harry that wants to (also) buy a home to live in.

What I will also say is that being out of state (I buy out of state as well) you wouldn't believe how many properties I've flown out and toured that either a.) looked much worse in the photos or b.) the area just wasn't what I thought it was.  You can do some diligence through crime heatmaps, cruising through Google Maps, etc. but it just can't (for me) replace driving through the area itself.  

There was one time (not too long ago) that I drove 45 minutes from my core market out of state to look at a fixer.  The area looked nice, the listing agent was open about the property needing a lot of cosmetic repairs, etc.  But it looked too good (on paper) not to at least have a look.  It was small apartment building near a college.  So I drive out and in-person I can see there were no less than five different types of exterior siding, at least 4 layers (all showing) of linoleum in the kitchens, multiple floors were sloped, a couple were "spongy", and the back unit was an add-on that may or may not have been legal (but definitely a former porch).  So my "worst case guessimate" of $80K in rehab costs that I had done from my armchair in San Diego was off, maybe waaaaay off, who knows.  I passed on the property and didn't look back.

So if I were in your shoes I'd make sure there were 5+ deals that look good on spreadsheets if you're going down the Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. route.  Then fly out and see those deals plus a handful of ones that didn't look as good.  You go on enough "dates" with properties and you'll start to figure it out.

@Chris A Godbolt

I would echo @Andrew Johnson , using sites like Zillow and Redfin is a route to finding properties, but probably not the most effective tool either. I did just enter contract on a duplex that I found on Redfin, in this case the units were FSBO and had languished on the site for over 60 days.

Trawling those sites for older listings is probably the best way to go, trying to use them to beat the crowd on new SFR listings is not the most effective method.

Best of fortune in your venture!

@Chris A Godbolt Another advantage to using older listings (similar to @Sam Rust ) is that you have the luxury of being able to back into your specific offer price.  There comes a time when a property ages to the point where you can almost ignore the asking price.  You can look at your chosen metric (easy example: 1% rule) and arrive at an offer that way.  If you think a property will rent for $1,200 per month and it's listed for $160K you can offer $120K.  The free market has told you it isn't worth $160K and if the the owners had a received a really close offer (like $150K) they probably would have taken that too.  So the free market has told the owner that it's not worth $150K either.  Now if it's a rental property things get more complicated as then you juxtapose ___ in rent vs. ___ as a purchase price.  You can easily reach a threshold where it's just not worth it to sell.  I see non-SFRs all of the time that just have their listings removed.  No sale, no accepted offer, just *poof* gone.  But the net result (for you) is that flexibility might come with time.  Now you just have to find a real estate agent that's willing to write those below-asking offers.  Not all of them are, it's far from a guarantee of success, but there's a 0% chance I'd make an offer even close to asking price on a property that's been on the market for 120+ days.

Properties listed on the MLS are typically available IMMEDIATELY at Realtor.com. Other sites may be delayed or have inaccurate information. Benefit of sites like Zillow... You can often find homes that owners have placed for sale OFF the MLS (without an agent).

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Did you buy the property?

I still see 'deals' on the MLS & Zillow in my getting-hotter-every-day market. Those properties do show up for a few days, get 10-20 offers and fall off pretty quick. That isn't to say there are no deals, but the sales prices many times end up being less than stellar, or at least how they're presented on the MLS/Zillow/Trulia.

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