How to analyze a property without contractor knowledge?

5 Replies

Hello! My first post- hoorah! I've been scouring properties on Zillow/Redfin/Realtor and did tons of research to learn how to "run the numbers". I've even gone to look at a property. The problem I'm having is that I don't know how to analyze the repairs/upgrades needed on any given property. I know foundation and roof are really expensive, I know floors and walls are perhaps less expensive. Spent enough pricing things at Home Depot to know that kitchens are crazy expensive, and standard window blinds cost pennies. What questions should I be asking myself when I look at a listing online? How do I estimate repair cost? How do I know if the plumbing or electrical systems need repair and to what extent? 

Bit of background, maybe that's helpful? Looking to buy my first property on the east coast of Florida, a multi family unit, that I will live in for at least a year (due to FHA guidelines). It will be a buy and hold for rental cash flow/passive income.

Any help tremendously appreciated!

Welcome to BP @Susan Franke Congrats on finally beginning to invest.

Go ahead and make an offer that seems fair for what you KNOW about the property. Make sure your agent gives you plenty of time on your contingencies. There is nothing wrong with putting 7 days for deposit, and 45 or more days to close. Make sure you have at least 15 days for inspection. Then, get a qualified home inspector in there. Follow him (or her!) around for 2-3 hours and tell him you want him to explain everything to you as he goes. Ask him what he looks for, what he wants to see, what he doesn't want to see.

You will pay $300-$400 for the inspection, but what you really just purchased was an education. I would do that for 3 or 4 purchases. Pretty soon, you can do the inspectors job!

@SteveHall, thanks so much for the response, really helpful stuff here! You mind slow walking me through the bit about 7 days for deposit, but 15 days for inspection? Is it normal to put a deposit on a house before getting it inspected? 

@Steve Hall undefined

@Susan Franke I think only part of your question was answered here. While very important to know the things a home inspector will tell you or teach you. You also need to know how to estimate rehab. The inspectors gonna say yep the cabinets function and no water damage under the sink. But won’t say it’s gonna cost you x amount to replace the laminate counters with granite. That where I would read j Scott’s book on estimating rehab and do the same the last poster said with a general contractor. He will charge you a few hundred but once you build a relationship with him and he’s working on your properties you can negotiate that way down.