Finding useful tools
In pursuit of my real estate investment (REI) goals I’ve come across a lot great websites, apps, and software. I’m using these resources to establish a process that will ensure my success in REI. These resources range from sites to help find deals to apps to perform deal analysis. Today, I’ll share the ones I’ve used!
No agent, no problem
So, we all know Zillow or Trulia are sites where we can find properties for sale. Unfortunately, finding multifamilies (the type of properties I plan on investing in initially) on Zillow is challenging – as they don’t have an multifamily search option. However, searching for multifamilies on Trulia is a brreeze!
In addition to Trulia and Zillow, there are other sites you can visit to find properties, including:
HomeSteps – These are Freddie Mac REO properties or properties owned by Freddie Mac (foreclosures).
HomePath – These are Fannie Mae REO properties or properties owned by Fannie Mae (foreclosures).
HudHomeStore – These are HUD REO properties or properties owned by HUD (Foreclosures).
Craiglist– In the Real Estate section. Often, there are properties listed here which are NOT on the MLS.
BiggerPockets Marketplace – Often, there are properties here which are NOT on the MLS. You’ll have to register as a BiggerPockets member.
Wayne County Tax Auction – you can register without putting down any money. Registering gives you access to view any of the properties up for auction.
Homesteps, HomePath, and HudHomeStore were particularly useful to me in looking for my first house (primary residence); initially without an agent.
Quick Free Appraisals
Want to get a sense of what a property is worth without having to pay for an actual appraisal? There are a few sites I’ve used in the past and a process I’m using currently to arrive at an estimated appraisal value. Zillow offers its Zestimate which is supposed to be an approximation of a home’s value. However, I don’t personally hold much stock in their estimates. When it comes to properties in my home state (Michigan) their estimates seem quite off. There are other sites which I think are more accurate:
Eppraisal – will show both Zillow’s Zestimate in addition to their own estimate. It’s a cool way of comparing and contrasting valuations
Bank of America and Chase – both have sites where you can get an estimate of a property’s value. They are not able to provide an estimate on all properties – I assume since it’s based on their own data. But if you put in an address they’ll typically give a range for a home’s value based on comparable sales.
Excel – this explains the process I follow to estimate value for the properties I’ve been analyzing.
Taxes and Ownership
It’s important to estimate the expenses you’ll incur for properties (whether it be your primary residence or an investment). When I was buying my primary residence I used a number of sites to get a sense of who the owners were, what the taxes were like, and whether there were any hokey things going on with ownership of the property.
With my current residence I was able to find out, before even putting in an offer, who the owner was, that he was divorced and what the property taxes had been to date.The following websites were extremely helpful (Note: this is specific to MICHIGAN though I assume other states may have similar sites):
Taxes – each locality in Michigan has a site where current taxes can be viewed. Some cities make you pay for this information if you don’t certify as the homeowner (ex: Detroit), others don’t.
Delinquent Taxes – counties (in Michigan) hold responsibility for collecting any back or delinquent taxes. They are also the entities which hold auctions to sell properties which are delinquent on taxes. You can find out whether a property you’re interested in is delinquent on taxes by going to the county assessor’s website.
Loveland Technologies – In Michigan – there’s this cool tech/data company which pools real estate data for properties located in Michigan (and other states, apparently). Wondering who the owner of a particular piece of real estate is – particularly in Detroit- and what the taxes are? This site makes it easy to input an address and get this information easy and for free.
Ownership – In Michigan, recording of ownership is held at the county level. In the past, I’ve been able to pull deed information on properties I’m interested in from the county recorder’s website. I’ve specifically pulled deeds in Wayne County. By going to to the Wayne County Recorder’s website, registering, and putting a couple of dollars into a login account you can search for deed information, liens (mortgages), etc. for specific property addresses. If you don’t pay, it’s more difficult to find this information. This site is beneficial especially if you’re buying properties from a county tax auction. If you’ve done your due diligence to find out how much back taxes are on a property- your next step should be to find out as much info as you can about the ownership of the property. Issues with title/deed (liens, imminent foreclosures, etc.) could come back to bite you later on.
Dealcheck (shoutout to Marcus for this head’s up!) is the app I use for my property analysis practice. It’s very user friendly and they offer a 1 month trial membership – which I’m taking complete advantage of! You can upload pictures of a property – plug and play numbers such as offer amount, repairs costs, mortgage interest, etc. and easily get an analysis on the other side. It provides information on the following metrics which are important for REI: Net cash flow, Cash on Cash Return, Return on Investment and Cap Rate. It’s a great app – which I
probably will purchase once my trial ends (purchased!).
So these are the sites/apps I’ve used and are using currently. Many were especially helpful to me when I purchased my first home (primary residence). I’m now using most of them to help me with my REI analysis homework..
Do you know of any other useful tools for real estate investing? Please leave a comment below!
Motivating Mantra: “Share Your Passion”
It’s in my nature to be closeted. To be secretive about “my business” and not let others know my plans. However, I’ve come to realize that letting others know what your plans/big goals are can be a good thing! Why? Because it invites others to share your passion and potentially provide resources and insight which can help you achieve your goals. It also holds you accountable to someone other than yourself. You just never know who might be the type of connect which can help you achieve success. And if you’re like me – the last thing you want to do is look like a fool in front of other people; so I’m going to make sure I see my plans through (since everyone now knows about them!). I plan on continuing to share my intentions, goals and plans with as many people as will listen. Hopefully, one or more of those listening ears can help bring me one step closer to financial freedom.