5 Refinancing Steps You’ll Need to Complete for the BRRRR Strategy

by | BiggerPockets.com

The third R in the BRRRR strategy stands for “refinance,” and a lot of people get hung up at this stage. So here is a step-by-step guide to getting your BRRRR property across the finish line.

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Step 1: Look for a Lender (And Cast a Wide Net)

One mistake a lot of people make is to only start looking for a lender once they need one. Don’t make this error. Instead, you should start looking for, vetting, and building rapport with lenders early on in the process. This will save you a lot of time when you actually want to get one. And if you have a private or hard money loan on the property while you are doing the repairs, these holding expenses will add up as you scurry around looking for a bank. Furthermore, in the process of looking for a lender and submitting financials, it may highlight problems you have with your credit or income that you need to resolve before pressing forward.

The best way to find a good bank is to ask other real estate investors who they are using. Banks can always add new clients without short-serving their current ones, so people will be happy to give referrals. Indeed, no one has ever turned me down for this request. But you can also just call random banks and say something like, “I am a real estate investor looking to refinance single-family investment properties. Is this something your bank would be interested in?” Usually, you’ll get a quick “No” if it’s not something they’re looking for.

Related: Should You Refinance Your Mortgage? Consider This

One final word to the wise; make sure to ask about seasoning requirements. Some banks will lend at appraised value as soon as a property has been rehabbed and rented. But many want the property to “season” for a certain period of time — perhaps a year or so. Before then, they’ll only lend on 75 percent of the cost you have into the property. This won’t cut it for the BRRRR strategy, so you need to make sure they’re willing to do what you need them to ahead of time.

Step 2: Build Rapport with the Lender (People Like to do Business with People They Like)

Don’t just be all business all the time. It’s OK to be friendly. And it’s more than OK to buy a few lunches for potential lenders. If a banker says they’re interested in doing investment refinance loans, ask him or her to lunch and chitchat a bit. Get to know him or her and be genuinely friendly. People can always spot a fake. Remember that this lender will be your advocate when the loan goes to committee to be voted up or down. You need that person to genuinely advocate for you. And some lenders can approve loans on their own if it’s under a certain dollar amount, so that makes it all the more important to win their trust.

And make sure to buy lunch. There’s something called the Rule of Reciprocity that can work in your favor here.

Step 3: Get Your Financials In Order (a Confused Mind Says No)

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been looking at properties to buy where the owner’s financials are such a mess I can’t make heads or tails of them. This is the good ole “Ma and Pa” accounting that you need to avoid like the plague.

Make sure to use a reputable accounting program such as Quickbooks or a property management software with a good accounting module like RentManager. And if you aren’t good with accounting, then you need to find someone to take care of it.

Regardless, don’t think of bookkeeping as “just something that needs to get done — or whatever.” It is vitally important to keep good, easy-to-read books. If a lender looks at your financials and can’t make sense of them, she’ll usually just say no. Why bother trying to figure it out if she can move onto a potential loan that’s easy to underwrite? Furthermore, your financials project how organized and professional you are. If your financials are a mess, then the lender will probably think you and your business are as well.

Step 4: Make Your Property Shine (First Impressions as They Say)

Just like with your document submissions, your properties will project to the lender how organized and professional you are. Do you want to come off to this bank as a slum lord?

Remember, this doesn’t mean you need to over-rehab your properties. That is a very common mistake in the rehab part of the BRRRR equation. What you do need to do is make sure that the property is fully functional, looks nice, and impresses. This is important for finding a tenant too. If you rent out a pigsty, you’ll probably find a tenant who will treat it as such.

Related: 3 Critical Keys to a Successful Refinance (for the BRRRR Strategy!)

Step 5: Document Submission (Another Chance at a First Impression)

When you submit your documents, make sure to submit everything you can and in a clear and easy-to-follow way. I try to impress the lender here, too, in order to prove my professionalism and competency. Again, this lender is going to be your advocate. You should try to impress her. I usually submit personal financials, tax returns, property financials, a rent roll, pictures of the property, my resume and business plan, and anything else that makes sense to send. I do this by putting it in a Dropbox folder with several sub folders.

You may want to do this with several banks in case one of them says no — and also to jockey for the best terms. Remember, you can say no to banks, too.

In my next article, I will go over some additional tips on how to get your refinance approved. Stay tuned!

What questions do you have about refinancing?

Ask them in the comments below!

About Author

Andrew Syrios

Andrew Syrios is a real estate investor in Kansas City and a partner in Stewardship Properties along with his brother and father. Their company owns just over 500 units in four states.

13 Comments

  1. John Murray

    I have been successful in BRRRR. Here is how I did it. I purchased 9 SFH rental with $550K of my own money. I have $3.6 M of leverage. Unfortunately the train left about 2 years ago and I could not do the same thing if I started today. Right time right place. Now it’s time to sell off 1 each year.
    1. All in one zip code that is highly appreciating.
    2. Purchase 20-30% below market value.
    3. At least 20% down.
    4. I do all my own reno and management.
    5. Refinance when I can clear $50K

  2. Jim Davis

    Andrew,

    Excellent article. For the novice real estate investor looking to BRRRR their first investment property, how would you modify your advice? For example: resume. I am an electrical consulting engineer in the construction industry. Arguably, my experience is beneficial, but not directly related, to real estate investing. With no “deals” under my belt, do I include a resume with my W-2 experience? I have my own thoughts but would love to hear yours and those of others reading these comments.

    Thanks,
    Jim

    • Andrew Syrios

      I would still include your work experience for sure. While direct experience is better, of course, being an engineer is quite impressive and that counts for a lot. They want to know what kind of person you are and an engineering background can show that you are intelligent and disciplined.

  3. Wenecio Godfrey

    Great article Andrew. Maybe you’ll write more about this on your next article, but one problem I had to face whenever doing BRRR is that most financial institutions (banks) do not (or just will not) do a refi if the property is owned by an LLC. I prefer to buy my properties using my business entity for obvious asset protection reasons, but the few lenders I have found so far charge anywhere from 2-4% more in order to refinance a property owned by an LLC or trust. The workaround is that they will refinance it, but at closing the property must be put in my personal name. After that is complete I can re-deed the property back into the LLC, but that kinda defeats one of the purposes of me buying outside of my name in the first place. If anyone has found a better solution to this I would love to hear it! Thanks again and looking forward to your future work!

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