My advice… DON’T - Posted by Sean
Posted by Sean on April 24, 2006 at 09:36:57:
I see folks get clobbered with this approach, particularly newbies… even an experience investor can get killed witht his approach.
Now 2.5 hours driving time is close enough to physically get to the property occassionally, but its not close enough to where you are going to be able to effectively manage the job.
Let me explain how “out of town” investors get clobbered routinely where I live… they go onto EBAY, or a Foreclosure site and see a house selling for 20 or 30k… and can’t believe their eyes… a 4 or 5 bedroom brick victorian for only 30k?? And it only needs about 20-30k in work? What a freakin steal…after all in their market the house would be worth 300k… alas in this market, in the neighborhood its situated in, it might MIGHT be worth 40-50k TOPS assuming you can find a buyer.
Now, they go and try to find a contractor who is going to fix it up for them… now, since the great contractors are all booked solid with local folks who give them repeat business, they start calling names out of the yellow pages, and hire someone… They will never get the names or numbers of the really good guys, because those guys are all word of mouth, and frankly aren’t going to get involved in an obvious stinker project, because the likelyhood of them getting paid is dubious and they know it.
Now, they aren’t there to oversee the project, so when Mr. Contractor, even if you luck out and get a reliable one, gets a call from a job who’s going to pay him more… poof he’s gone and your project takes a back seat… that is of course assuming he just doesn’t go on a bender with the $$ you gave him to begin with…
Now you can’t get ahold of the contractor, have no idea that the house ISN’T being done, because you can’t see it, and then suddenly in the middle of all this reality strikes and it comes home to roost that they overpaid, they are being eaten alive in carrying costs, the works not being done, and even if it did get done they are going to lose money on this deal…
That’s when they call up the local investors clubs and try to pawn these dogs off on folks who actually live and work here and know the market hoping beyond hope that they can get out… And either take a complete bath selling it to someone local for a few thousand… or eventually lose the house to either the local government for back taxes, or to the bank they borrowed from to buy it.
Even if they buy right, they still often wind up being eaten alive by the contractor. Rehabbing requires hands on… you MUST ABSOLUTELY HAVE SOMEONE REPRESENTING YOU IN THE AREA WATCHING THE PROJECT! Without this, the odds of you being successful IMHO are next to nill…
It is very very difficult, to luck yourself into a contractor who is going to do what they say they are going to do in the time they say they are going to do it, for the cost they say they are going to do it, out of the box even if you live next door, let alone trying it from 100-200 or 1000 miles away.
Finding the deals in bad/slow markets is of course easy… but what good is a deal on something you can’t sell and are going to have to manage like hell when you rent it? Yea, it will cashflow, but you better be there on the first to hand collect your rent or it won’t be there on the 2nd… No, I’m not kidding. Deals are more readily available, but the overwhelming majority of them are in areas that even buy and holding is going to be management intensive… Do you know the area well enough to know a solid area vs a declining one? Can you spend the time effort and energy going to and from the property? for management and maintenance issues? Can you trust a local management company to do the job for you?
I am not opposed to going where the deals are, but just understand that what you perceive as a deal sitting at your desk hours away, may not be the deal you think it is.
Unless it was commercial grade project, I would not personally be investing in single family fix ups out of area, unless I had an established and reliable local beachhead in that area with folks working for me full time to look out for my interests. If I was debating single family out of area, I would be doing pretty properties that did not need fix ups, and could cashflow enough to justify a management companies expense… and then keep my eye on that company like a hawk.