Real estate has picked up, and once again it is cool to be an investor. Everyone has their favorite way of finding that next deal: driving for dollars, yellow letters, real estate agents and the MLS. There are lots of tools to find properties. Here are some of my favorites.
How to Invest in Real Estate While Working a Full-Time Job
Many investors think that they need to quit their job to get started in real estate. Not true! Many investors successfully build large portfolios over the years while enjoying the stability of their full-time job. If that’s something you are interested in, then this investor’s story of how he built a real estate business while keeping his 9-5 might be helpful.
7 Brilliant Tools to Help Find Your Next Investment Property
City-Data is absolutely overflowing with information on every city in the United States. From population and income to house values and school ratings, there is a wealth of information on this site to help you narrow down the city you want to invest.
They have an Advanced US City Search, where you can find cities around the country that fit your criteria. They even created a tool to compare two cities!
With all their maps and pictures, you will be able to get a good idea of the city before you ever set foot in it.
Google Street View
If you are new to an area, how do you even know what neighborhoods to walk? Google Street View. Street View was introduced in the US in 2007, and they have been working on making it better ever since. Check out what the street looks like every day. Is there a car sitting on blocks on the lawn? Rusting Chevy big block with a tree growing through the middle? Probably not the high quality area you want to be investing in. Or maybe you ARE looking for that market.
Why waste time and gas driving to a place you would never consider investing in?
Yup. I consider my legs to be one of the best tools around. I don’t drive for dollars; I walk for dollars. Walking takes longer than driving, so you spend more time in the neighborhood when you walk. You can’t cover as much ground, but you cover it in much more detail.
While you are sitting in your car, you may not hear that garage band warming up. You don’t hear the neighbors fighting, you can’t really talk to people, and that horrific stench may not be so offensive.
But if you walk the neighborhood, you can stop and talk to neighbors who are out and about. Ask about that house with the weeds. Get the scoop. Are they on vacation, or is the house vacant? If you are really interested in a neighborhood, walk the whole thing and talk to every single person you pass. Neighbors love to talk, and they love to complain about that house down the street with the car in the front yard.
Take a ton of pictures and notes on each property you want to investigate further. You can’t remember everything on your own. When you get home to look up the property, the images can spur more questions than just a note. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Use your smartphone to access apps that can give you a quick snapshot of the property/neighborhood you are in.
Zillow was a groundbreaking website when they first came on the scene. They created a “living database of more than 110 million U.S. homes – including homes for sale, homes for rent and homes not currently on the market, as well as Zestimate home values, Rent Zestimates and other home-related information.”
(Their Zestimate isn’t 100% accurate in all cities. I have seen Zestimates that are really far off, so take them with a grain of salt. They are getting better, though.)
Not one to rest on their success, they took all this and created smartphone apps that let you take this information mobile. Now, as you go through the neighborhood, you simply pull up the app and see if it’s worth your time.
BiggerPockets Pro Membership
My BiggerPockets Pro Membership allows me to publish in the Marketplace Forum, gives me access to the Exclusive Pro Forum, and provides unlimited use of the Analysis Software. Pro Membership also allows me to print and customize my reports. I can even track my profile and blog visits. I can register 20 Keyword Alerts to really refine my searches.
BiggerPockets Investment Calculators
Did you know BiggerPockets has investment calculators to help you figure out your potential profit? There is a Fix and Flip Analysis & Reporting Tool, the Rental Property Calculator, the Wholesaling Calculator, the 70% Rule Calculator and the Mortgage Calculator.
We live in an age of incredible information. Entrepreneurs are coming up with new and better tools to help analyze a deal — or even find properties to invest in.
What are some of your favorite tools?
Let me know with a comment!