Several REI questions, getting started

I think I’m at the point of having a good smattering of concept/theory, good intention, and have a positive attitude.

My future REI partner (father) and I have been reading, mostly on the internet for the past month or so, about various REI forms. We’re most likely going to pursue the pre-forclosures and foreclosure rehabbing area for immediate sales before we consider other things. Tax liens and rentals sounds nice, but will need to come later. We both know a lot of people that “coulda woulda shoulda” taken a stab at real estate or that know a few people that are real estate agents but those agents are only interested in selling houses. They aren’t a great deal of help.

I’d like to know if anybody from an IT background, like myself, or a real estate investor has later used the internet far more than other “traditional” mediums for finding properties, evaluating things like after repair value, average repair costs, networking with other real estate investors (I guess this forum counts, eh :slight_smile: ) or contractors. Perhaps there are some software programs or applets you use on the web that you’ve found very helpful?

Anybody have an opinion on the Zestimate ratings of Should I take courses in appraisal or is there a better method to rely upon?

Anybody have anything to add in general about the housing market in Oregon? That’s where we live and will be starting out at.

I’m not real sure where or how to actually get started. I’m not a big fan of driving around because of gas prices so I’ve been trying to figure out a way of finding properties through the web. Do YOU subscribe to a website that offers a great service, maybe showing comparable sales in the area, properties, etc. or rely on some other method? Any recommendation? The more I can do on the web the better!

Some general questions:

Is there any sign or notice posted on a home in foreclosure proceedings?

How do you find out how long a property has been held by a bank entity after foreclosure? (upping their desire to sell)

I will take a stab at a few of these questions… I do come from an IT background so I’ll start there. In 2000 I got out of programming, and became a Real Estate agent I also bought my first investment property. 2 months ago I stopped selling Real Estate, and moved to Hawaii to run Through my own experience, and working with many many investors, I have found that most IT guys have a hard time being investors. In general white collar folks have a hard time. This is because we are so used to working with our minds and not our hands. When you own a property, especially when starting out, you need to get down and get dirty. It is simply too darn expensive to hire everything out. Im not trying to scare you or say you can’t do it, there are many of invetors who come from a white collar background. In regaurds to finding property well, I still find more traditional ways of finding property, but definately utilize the internet to research, and market.

Would I recommend Zillow. Ah… Well… Ah… That depends on what your using it for. I definately wouldn’t trust the values it gives. I recently moved from MN and tested Zillow when it first came out. It was 10% off on the value of our previous home.

As far as networking, yeah the internet is great. You will get more open answers from fellow investors. Because we are all from different areas, we are not competition, and we can be more open. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join your local investor club.

As for getting started… Start learning your local market. Drive around, know the town, know the prices. If you get into foreclosures and rehabbing, you will need to know some good contractors. You will also need to start learning how to do some of the work. Free classes at home depot aren’t a bad idea.

Thanks for the reply Jason. Would you care to expand upon how you research and market through the internet? I’m seeing sites with $10/week for access to lists of pre-forclosures, foreclosures, tax liens etc. on up to sites that are $100 a year for the same. How do they get their information? Is the information on the web more up to date than a newspaper or about the same?

Is there a way to know a house is in foreclosure or pre-forclosure when you drive by? Like a notice posted on a door or elsewhere?

Should I bother taking classes in appraisal/inspection?

Yeah, there are plenty of pay for use forclosure lists. Certainly it is used, or they wouldn’t be selling it. I have never used one, but I had a client who did. I don’t think anything ever came from it though, but that does not mean it doesn’t work. Maybe someone here has used them and can give you more info…

As far as learning your area, simply lookup local agent websites, and start brousing the listings. That will give you a start. For research, find your county website. it is probably somehting like (Dakota County Minnesota) many counties now have tax records online. you can find the owner name, and possibly a mailing address if different from the home address. Then you can use an online phonebook to find a phone number. Sure Johnson is going to be hard, but you do now have a name and an address.

First I have to say that I LOVE driving around, looking. It’s good to have a plan, but ok to wander too. That’s the most fun part of it all, you may go to look at a particular house on 18th st, and see something else a block or so away that otherwise you would’ve never known about. Here’s my advise about driving - make it fun, don’t go alone, plan on dinner at ‘Mom & Pop’s’, or a break in a park. You’ll discover a whole world out there. :o) Also, don’t worry about gas prices being $3 when looking for $100k houses…it’s probably deductible anyway!

About the internet, I’ve been on several sites that give the address and nothing more. (good enough reason to drive there) There are other sites, like, Peoplefinder, etc where you can use one piece of information to link to another. Reasearch at the county courthouse is always a good place to start. Also, if you’re interested in foreclosures, you could probably walk into any bank and get a list of properties (that bank has) and all the other information you want/need.

The most valuable advice my father ever gave me:
“Don’t pay for something that you can get for free”