02/14/2012

Real Estate Investors Offer Big Pay Off, If You Can Keep Up



Today's real estate investor isn't necessarily a high roller, but more often a working stiff with a small-business, tapping existing non-real estate investments to cash in on affordable real estate properties to flip or rent.

If you are a real estate agent looking to serve them, you'd better be at the top of your game.

These younger investors aren't "suits" sporting fancy cars, but are more likely to dress casually and drive a hard bargain, offering all cash or sizable down payments on the properties they buy.

Many are smaller, newer, more innovative-thinking investors with one or two rentals under their wing, looking to acquire more. One thirty-something investor with three children chose to drain the kids' college accounts and buy three houses with 15-year loans. By the time the kids graduate, mom and pop can sell the farm and pay cash for college.

Some are trading in two-, three- and four-plexes for single-family homes (SFH), considered diamonds in the rough, valued at half what they cost at the peak of the market.

Investors with cash in the bank are getting off the fence because they no longer trust that their money will perform as well in conventional investments, including money market funds, stocks and other investments.

In the business to make money, investors also favor Section 8 housing's guaranteed rental income.

If investors sound like tough cookies, they are, but you can serve them well if you have the energy and expertise to meet their demands.

The average real estate agent thinks the job is to write a contract and pray it gets accepted. Here's what's really required.

Going the distance

Investors aren't in the mood to manage. That's what they do for a living. They expect you to take the lead on acquiring their investment and expect you to understand their investment goals.

Be prepared to show an investor as many homes as they wish to see in a day, six, eight. And not just any homes. They include short sale properties occupied by families down on their luck and homes in horrid shape.

When a hot property is available, the investor needs to be convinced to tour it.

"You need to see this property and I am picking you up at your office in 30 minutes and will have you back in an hour..." Worker bees may say "no" at first, but later will agree, because you insisted. They appreciate your initiative and ultimately enjoy the thrill of the chase.

Bring hard core negotiating skills to the table. An investor needs a real estate agent familiar with the distressed property market. After several investment purchases, a skilled agent should recognize a good deal and advise the buyer what to offer. Hit the nail on the head and you gain their trust.

When the investor trusts the agent, the investor is more often willing to offer a higher price, if that's what it takes to get the offer accepted. However, if the investor is an all-cash buyer and can forego the appraisal contingency, even the property inspection and disclosures contingency, then a lower offer with a quick close is a more effective strategy.

Investors have little time to spare, including the celebratory two-martini lunch after the deal closes. Instead, they'd prefer you to pick them up, get them to the sign-off and back to work in an hour.

Other investors prefer not to leave work, but complete the transaction without leaving their desk. They appreciate the convenience of electronic signatures, when permitted. Electronic signatures are not allowed on a short sale, but offering to send a traveling notary or providing curb-side pick up can overcome that obstacle and help them maintain a sense of control without actually managing you.

Investors don't care to read the fine print, but they do want to know what's in the deal. You, along with the lender, must review the note to be sure the rate and the terms are what the investor wants. You must sign off on the title report and be certain there are no problems with liens or easements. The new title must be in the correct name of the investor or the investor's living trust.

After escrow, the tough keep going

The real work begins after escrow closes.

Whether the investor will flip the property or rent it out, chances are, the property could use some help.

You'll have to have at the ready a database of trusted vendors available for any work necessary - termite work, painting, hardwood floor finishers, roofers, general contractors, landscapers, pool repair guys, HVAC companies, virtually any provider you can think of. But not just any contractor, great contractors with competitive prices.

You can manage the work by installing a lock box and setting up appointments with the contractors. This allows them to quickly get to work transforming the purchase into an investment with hefty returns.

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