“There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home.”Kenny Guinn
You’ve come a long way in your investment process. At this point, you’ve determined what you can afford, set your investment criteria, chosen your real estate agent and team members, and researched the area. Now comes the fun part… searching for properties!
How to begin searching for properties
- Your broker should regularly provide an updated list with properties that meet your investment criteria in the area you are looking. You should know about every new property that hits the market, as well as every property that has been sitting for a while and may be overlooked by regular home buyers.
- A good buyer’s agent will not only search the MLS, but put the word out to their network of real estate brokers that they have a ready, willing, and able buyer. Sometimes agents have “pocket listings” which means they are working with a potential seller who doesn’t want to list their home for sale, but would entertain offers if the right buyer came along.
- Use online real estate searches. Doing your own Internet research is useful for refining your investment criteria. You can view the size, features, and amenities of homes to get a better idea of what you can expect in a given area.
- If you work with a good buyer’s agent, you shouldn’t be able to find any new properties that your agent hasn’t already shown you. It’s their job to inform you of new listings. If you come across a home you have a question about or want to see DO NOT contact the seller or broker directly. Instead DO send the home information to your broker and let him contact the listing broker or seller. After all, that is what he is being paid to do.
- Drive the area you are looking with your family or broker. You might come across For Sale By Owner properties that just hit the market. Canvassing a neighborhood also allows you to see a home for sale that you might have overlooked because the pictures or property description on the MLS didn’t accurately describe the property.
- Visit Open Houses to get a feel for the types of homes in a neighborhood. Neighbors will often come by open houses. This gives you a chance to ask them questions and get a feel for the vibe of the community. If you come without your buyer’s agent, be sure to tell the listing broker or agent on duty that you’re working with a buyer’s agent.
Save Time With “Presearch”
The more research you do before viewing homes in person, the better. Your time is valuable and doing your homework will reduce the amount of time wasted during the process of finding homes for sale.
- View all available photographs and virtual tours online.
- Search the property on Google Maps and use Street View to see the home and surrounding properties as if you were standing right there.
- Ask your agent to call the listing broker before you visit the property. This will save you time if, for example, the home is Pending Sale but the broker hasn’t updated the listing status yet. Sometimes, a home is listed on MLS but the seller already has a buyer in place.
- The listing broker can inform your agent if they have already received multiple offers, possibly above list price, and indicated that they are most likely going to accept one of those offers. You might not want to spend your time visiting this home unless you are willing to get into a bidding war.
Why do all this research?
There isn’t always a lot of time to make up your mind if you want to make an offer on a home, especially in today’s real estate market. Doing your homework should help expedite your decision making process.
Another benefit of research is that you know what to look for when you arrive at the property. You might overlook some of your investment criteria or forget to ask important questions if you aren’t working from a list. It’s easy to get caught up in the remodeled kitchen or spacious master bathroom and forget to notice some of the smaller items on your list.
Visiting a property in person
No pictures, video, or description can beat viewing a home in person. Even with an adequate amount of research and homework, there will come a time when you need to get off your computer and visit the property in person.
Your agent will be able to tell you if the home is vacant, whether it’s okay to come by during specified periods of time, or if the seller will only show the home by appointment.
When visiting a property, be mindful and courteous of the property and tenants. Don’t walk through the grass, wipe your feet before entering, and avoid touching personal items. A good rule of thumb is to treat the home as you’d want someone to treat your home for sale.