Roofstock (Review / Case Study)

47 Replies

I recently closed on my first rental property. I used Roofstock. I had set up a number of baseline searches in a few markets that I was interested in. Whenever one that fit my general criteria came up, I would drill into the details and run the numbers using both Roofstock's projections, and the BiggerPockets rental calculator tool. (My plan was to pull my downpayment and closing costs out of our primary residence on a HELOC, so there was some extra number crunching to make sure that it would all pencil out. My goal was to be able to cash flow about $100 after paying the mortgage, the HELOC payment, and setting aside money for repairs, maintenance, and taxes, so I had to be very discriminating about the potential deals.) I low-balled on a couple properties and haggled back and forth a couple times but stayed firm on my requirements. Finally, on 12/13/17 one of my offers was accepted for about 10% below asking price. It was going to barely clear my $100/month cash-flow requirement.

Within about 12 hours of offer acceptance, I received a call from Zack at Roofstock. (As far as I can tell, there are at least two Zack’s at Roofstock—this was Zack Carson). He congratulated me and gave me a quick rundown of what would be next and then followed-up with an email.

Two days later, I received a DocuSign for the final Purchase and Sale agreement. I sign and returned it. My wife received her copy to sign and return the next morning (Saturday 12/16). (We purchased the property under both our names, but the mortgage is only under mine—my thought is that if I keep us separated on the loans, we be able to maximize the number of conventional mortgages we use before we have to get more creative with financing.

Late Monday (12/18), I received a copy of the final, executed Purchase and Sale Agreement and instructions for wiring the $1500 earnest money (standard earnest money for all Roofstock deals).

Tuesday morning I received an email from Zack with more info on nextsteps (Insurance and Property Management) following by several emails making introductions to various third parties. One for Insurance (Real Protect—who seemed fine and is apparently one of the go-tos for investment property insurance), and introductions to the current property manager AMG as well as two other PM options.

I had already gotten pre-approved through TruLoan (one of Roofstock’s, recommended/preferred mortgage brokers.) I have my own mortgage guy in Seattle, but for a mortgage elsewhere, they seemed as good as anyone else, so I just went with them. It was not problem to qualify and get them all of the info they needed. Since I’m a W2 employee who owns a primary residence, it really felt like it was mostly a formality.

I talked to and emailed a fair bit with Real Protect and all of the PM options and eventually decided on Brick Lane Property Management (Brick Lane was the most helpful and responsive of the bunch, and AMG, the previous PM totally dropped the ball and respond to any of my follow-up or inquiries until two week later after I have already decided on Brick Lane). Then Christmas and New Years hit and it felt a bit like everything sort of went on hold. If anything I would say that this was the only really frustrating part. There were about 2-3 weeks when it felt like nothing was happening. I finally emailed Zack at Roofstock to ask for an update and closing details. After a few fits and starts and a PSA extension, they were able to pull the info together. Since I was using a HELOC for the down, I had to jump through couple extra hoops with TruLoan. We had opened the HELOC several months ago, anticipating buying something but it had just been sitting there with a zero balance. Once TruLoan had a ball park Good Faith Estimate for me, I had to snapshot/document the process of pulling that amount out of the HELOC, and then showing the new loan balance, interest rate and minimum payment so that they could finalize their underwriting. I will say that my loan agent at TruLoan, Tracy, was awesome. She was knowledgable, helpful, and very responsive.

Finally, we got word that we were good to go and would be signing with a mobile notary on Thursday 1/25. The morning of the 25th, I still had not received wiring instructions or a final amount for closing costs. I had been given the name of my closing agent at OSNational, but no contact info. For some reason, I still don’t understand, she had been trying to call me but it just kept going through to my voicemail (and the VM’s weren’t being delivered). She was eventually able to call my wife and tell us that they still didn’t have my final loan docs. Signing was postponed until the following afternoon, and it went smoothly from there.

I received confirmation on Monday 1/29 that the loan had funded and we have officially closed. I am now officially a Real Estate Investor. Overall, I would say the process has been pretty painless. I think that Roofstock has a really great tool/system and does a great job of what they have set out to do. I was a little frustrated by the miscommunication and phone tag at the end, but that isn't Roofstock's problem, and I know that generally, last minute changes right before closing aren't terribly uncommon. I would definitely use Roofstock again--in fact I plan too. I'm going to give it a few months for this purchase to settle in and convince myself that all is going well and as planned, and then I will hopefully start looking for another property in May or June. Ideally, I will pick up at least two more units this year, and at this point, unless some other awesome opportunity comes by, I will use Roofstock.

That's great to hear.  Congrats!

Just as a sugeestion for the next one....Pull out the HELOC money ahead of time and plop it into your savings account so that it can be seasoning. Not only will this help the lender with your DTI initially without having to refigure and run you back through underwriting, it will also eliminate any issues that arise when your down payment isn't seasoned at least 60 days.

Thanks for the review Jon! I joined Roofstock a few months ago but haven't really dug into their properties as of yet. Just some quick browsing here and there. We've only purchased one SFH investment from a TurnKey provider here in the Chicago area and it went well and we're 1yr in and no problems...still rented and lease renewed. We're not looking to invest in IL anymore at this time so I'm keeping an eye on potential 2nd door. We did the same with our first purchase..used a HELOC on our Primary for the down payment and we're still cash flowing over $300 after everything.

I'm looking at at triplex property in Cincinnati area tomorrow that was just rehabbed.

Good luck with your 1st door!!!!

@Jon Krombein thanks for the review! I’m also under contract for a property through them as well.

Thanks Jon, and glad to hear your experience worked out pretty well. Roofstock seems like a great tool for people just starting out. Bummer they don't seem to offer any multi-unit properties. Will keep tabs on them!

@Ben Y. they do occasionally have duplexes and triplexes l, it’s just not super common right now. I was told that they would like to have more... it’s just a matter of inventory and finding the people that are wanting to sell.

Originally posted by @Jon Krombein :

I recently closed on my first rental property. I used Roofstock.

 Jon, curious; its been 4 months since you last posted regarding Roofstock.

How has your experience with them been so far?  Can you bring me up to speed?  I'm interested in using them for my first Turnkey.

Thanks!

Everything is still going well. Tenant has been paying. No maintenance requests. Cash-flowing ~$120/month. We're in the processing of buying a new primary residence, but once that all settles, I'll be back on the hunt for another rental.

@Jon Krombein just to verify, was this first investment out of your local area? Beyond using Roofstock's web interface, did you do any additional viewing of the property prior to pulling the trigger?

Edit: I just looked on the site and Washington state is not yet a supported market.I answered my own questions. In that vein, any tips for overcoming the "fear" of making a decision like this?

@James Byrd , I would say that technically, this was my first investment property anywhere. For the last 12 years, we've rented the MIL unit in our basement in Seattle to people who happen to be friends. It worked well for my family, but we didn't really consider it a landlord/tenant situation since we knew them. It was more like "community living." The reality is that the cost of properties in the Seattle area is so high, there is no easy way to try your hand at investment real estate. We started to look within a few hours drive and while things started to look more affordable, the thing we kept running into was that you needed to start relying on PM's, realtors, contractors, inspectors, etc who would be local to the prospective property but whom we had no connection to.

At one point, I heard someone (don't remember who) on the BiggerPockets podcast talk about how, unless you are a real estate professional yourself, you are going to have to trust others and rely on their expertise. If you have an inspector or contractor go assess a property for you, you ultimately have to believe what they report to you--whether it's a few blocks over or across the country. Once you get to that realization and become comfortable with the idea of trusting experts, then its just a matter of "what is the best way to recruit experts in an area where you don't live?"

The more that I heard reports about Roofstock and asked questions both of Zack (mentioned above) and the president Gary Beasley (I had a chance to interact with him directly on a Stacking Benjamins FB Live event) I became convinced that their system offered a way for me to test the waters with minimal friction.

Their site has some built-in calculators that help to assess the different properties. I also crunched my own versions of calcs in an excel sheet I put together as well as using the BP calculators. Ultimately, the property I bought (compared to Seattle prices) was really inexpensive. I also consoled myself that if the renter fell through, or the deal went south, I know I can float the mortgage on my own and it won't even be too difficult to just pay the whole thing off if needed.

Bottom line, all things being what they are, I felt comfortable enough with the numbers and the system that it didn't seem like much of a risk. 

This review has been really helpful! I'm currently considering my first property and would like to use Roofstock.

@Jon Krombein This was very helpful.  Does Roofstock provide the Property Management services of screening potential residents and managing the property through their partners? Thank you. Jane

@JaneLippman, no, Roofstock does not screen tenants. In most cases, the properties are already leased. (That’s part of the beauty of their service, you’re buying a property that is already cash flowing.) They provide you with the ledger and verification of past rental income and you just take over as landlord. There are some properties on Roofstock that that don’t have tenants and those, I believe, are all rent guaranteed. I didn’t go that route, it I believe that deal is that RS agrees to cover the market rate rent until a tenant is placed... but you’d have to research that yourself if you want to go that route.

Roofstock recommends a few PM’s and you’re are free to talk to any others you want to. I spoke to representatives from the existing PM on my property as well as three that Roofstock recommended and one that I found here on BP. Weather you’re buying a rent-guaranteed property or just getting a new tenant after your current tenant moves out, your PM (whoever you choose) would be the one assisting with vetting potential tenants, not Roofstock.

@Jon Krombein Very appreciative of this post. I'm considering Roofstock as a turnkey option and this was good news to hear. Thanks again, and best of luck in continued success with your acquired property.

Thank you for sharing your experience, this is very helpful.

Hey @Jon Krombein

I’ve been watching the activity on Roofstock for a few months now and am in the process of saving for a down payment. This would be my first investment as well. 

Until reading this, I haven’t found really any case studies online to confirm buyers are doing well 6 + months down the road. 

I wanted to ask a few questions. 

What neighborhood/state did you buy in? Did you use the location rating as a factor in determining where it was best to buy? Did you worry about older homes having huge cap ex repair quotes from the inspection reports?

I tend to search the website for “newer built” homes but they don’t seem to cash flow very well from the projections. I’m worried if I go for an older home with good projected cash flow that I’ll get hit with the cap ex bills early on from property management. 

Lastly, have you thought about doing any upgrades to your Roofstock property to increase the overall value and get higher rents? Or even do lease to purchase options with tenants so you can sell and upgrade to better properties?

Any feedback is appreciated!

I am deeply disappointed with the business practices of Roofstock. I spent the last few days researching and bidding a full price cash offer of $105k for the duplex at 11682 McKenna Avenue, Bonita Springs, FL 34135. I obtained flood insurance estimates, notification of Elevation Certificate (lack thereof), and inspection analysis only to be duped by their advertising scheme. While the listing price was substantially lower than my estimate of the true value, I did not expect Roofstock to allow a property to be listed at $80k below the seller’s actual asking price. I understand they are a startup company and concerned with expanding their user base, but this slimy advertising tactic of offering homes at steep discounts only to ignore all offers and re-list the property hours later will not come without public awareness of this fact.

Hours after the Open House period ended, the property is re-listed for $80k higher in another Open House period. Over the past few days, I am sure this duplex listing for a $105k asking price brought hundreds of new users to Roofstock. I hope they are satisfied with their slime ball advertising tactics.

Originally posted by @Dane Hankamer :

I am deeply disappointed with the business practices of Roofstock. I spent the last few days researching and bidding a full price cash offer of $105k for the duplex at 11682 McKenna Avenue, Bonita Springs, FL 34135. I obtained flood insurance estimates, notification of Elevation Certificate (lack thereof), and inspection analysis only to be duped by their advertising scheme. While the listing price was substantially lower than my estimate of the true value, I did not expect Roofstock to allow a property to be listed at $80k below the seller’s actual asking price. I understand they are a startup company and concerned with expanding their user base, but this slimy advertising tactic of offering homes at steep discounts only to ignore all offers and re-list the property hours later will not come without public awareness of this fact.

Hours after the Open House period ended, the property is re-listed for $80k higher in another Open House period. Over the past few days, I am sure this duplex listing for a $105k asking price brought hundreds of new users to Roofstock. I hope they are satisfied with their slime ball advertising tactics.

For those not familiar with the open house feature, according to Roofstock, "Open House is a 72-hour period that allows you to make an offer and start negotiating early. This is a new or previously listed property on the marketplace that has been listed while the certification process is being completed. When you make an offer, the seller will respond within 24 hours of the Open House period ending. Access our newest listings: Be the first to view new listings that have just hit our marketplace. These properties will be open to bidding during the 72-hour Open House period. Engage sooner with sellers: Get a leg up on the competition. Open House allows you submit your bid ahead of other marketplace investors and quickly get a response. Tip - Make your bid more competitive: Submitting an offer above the suggested offer price can increase your chances of being accepted by the seller, especially if there are other investors interested in the property."  

They used to have coming soon properties in the past and then they rolled out a Roofstock rack feature for properties that needed a bit of rehab and were offered at reduced pricing. When working with new or newer features there are always bound to be bumps in the road, but overall I've found Roofstock to be a good tool in acquiring out of state investments. I'm in the process of purchasing my fifth SFH (fourth through them).

@Jason Gines Hey Jason, I’m looking at RS for my first property. Can you tell me if you stuck to one area, or invested all over. I’d like to stick to one city but maybe it’s not as hard as I think to have properties spread out?
Originally posted by @Tara Wright :
@Jason Gines Hey Jason, I’m looking at RS for my first property. Can you tell me if you stuck to one area, or invested all over. I’d like to stick to one city but maybe it’s not as hard as I think to have properties spread out?

 Four in Atlanta Market and current one in contract is Cleveland Market.

I am currently under contract with Roofstock. The reviews by @Jason Gines @Ross Yeager and others helped inform me better before diving in. I am waiting to see how it all plays out before adding my experience to the archives. So far it has been mostly smooth. I purchased mine through the Open House period and was surprised when I got it. During the Open House time, the seller can refuse all offers, which happened to Dane. I personally have not seen any houses listed that much undervalue before.

@Jon Krombein what kind of return are you getting? I’ve looked at roofstock properties in Georgia and the returns look low to me, 4 - 6%.

We recently purchased a house through Roofstock. We were skeptical of the fact that they use their own inspector. Within a couple months after purchasing, we've already run into $5,000 worth of repairs that the inspector totally missed. I don't like the fact that the inspector isn't independent of roofstock. They have incentive to hide issues. I don't know whether or not that's what actually happened, but the home they rated as 18% Cash on Cash is a big money pit for me.

Originally posted by @Chad Larson :

We recently purchased a house through Roofstock. We were skeptical of the fact that they use their own inspector. Within a couple months after purchasing, we've already run into $5,000 worth of repairs that the inspector totally missed. I don't like the fact that the inspector isn't independent of roofstock. They have incentive to hide issues. I don't know whether or not that's what actually happened, but the home they rated as 18% Cash on Cash is a big money pit for me.

The inspector is a third party vendor, not an employee of Roofstock.  What were the repairs that were missed? 

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