I am a big believer of using forms in my real estate business. I have found time and time again when I am talking with a seller and I “wing it” instead of using my Property Information Form, I invariably forget to ask something important. There is some piece of information I need that I don’t get in that initial phone call. Sure, you can always call them back, but I really hate to do that. You just look unorganized.
Forms insure that you get the same information each time, and that you get all of the important information you need. Not only are forms a time saver, they can also save you money. A good example is when you inspect a property you plan to make an offer on. If you are not using a form when you do your inspection, you are almost certainly costing yourself money.
What forms do I use routinely in my business?
I have a number of forms that I use in my business, but here are the 3 top forms I use on the buying side of my real estate business.
Property Information Form
[ Property Information Form linked ] This is the form I use when I talk with a seller. Right at the top of the form, I have the date and the referral source. Since I do a lot of direct mail to absentee owners and probates, I have a place to circle what type of lead it is (PR for probate or OT for out of town/absentee owner) if indeed the lead was from direct mail. I also have a place to list the state they are calling from. I put this on the form after waking up folks several times that were in different time zones. There is also a place for “other” referral source. You always need to know where the lead came from.
The second section is for the contact information. I have the name of the caller on the form, and the name of the actual owner on there also. These are not necessarily the same especially if you are working with probates.
In other sections I have the property information including the age of the systems and what repairs and updates are needed. There is a place for the existing mortgage information as well. There are several questions on the form that will help me find out their reasons for selling and what their motivations are.
In the last section, I have a place to calculate my offer using the ARV (after repaired value), the percentage I will use, repairs needed and a place for “Me”. I will put the amount I want to make on this line. After putting everything down, I will know what my MAO or my maximum allowable offer will be. There is also a spot to make notes about this property.
That’s pretty much it. It’s not a fancy form, but it is one that works great for me.
Property Inspection Form
[ Property Inspection Form linked ] I always use a property inspection form when I first look at a property. Knowing the extent of the repairs and updates needed, is the only way you can make a good offer on the property. It is so easy to walk by the panel box only to find out later it has to be updated. If you have to install new windows in a property, you need to know exactly how many there are to know what the cost will be. This was something that I personally used to forget all the time; to count the windows. Now that I have it on my form, I always know how much to allot for windows. You need a form with the major items and systems in the home listed.
What you don’t need on this form are all of the little things like receptacles, door knobs etc. I put a “fudge fund” into my numbers for these sorts of things. It will typically be a percentage of the renovation costs, and the percentage will differ depending on the degree of renovation needed.
Simple Purchase and Sale Contract
[ Simple Purchase and Sale Contract linked ] My closing attorney is also a real estate investor, and he is very active in our REIA group. He provided our group with a simple Sales and Purchase Contract that most of us use on all of our transactions. I make subtle changes depending on whether I am the buyer or the seller, but it is the form I have used for years. For instance if I am the buyer, I might add some type of contingency such as for a crawl space inspection. If I suspect there could be damage that I can’t see this could be very costly and I will want to have it checked out. This won’t necessarily keep me from buying the house, but it would certainly affect the amount I offer.
If you would like a copy of the forms I use you can get them here or in the BiggerPockets Real Estate FilePlace.