Back in January this year, my colleague Tim and I were planning to buy tickets to one of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Qualifiers. As professional real estate investors, we were also talking about our upcoming busy spring selling season and why we had no time for more than two games. Unfortunately, things started going south by March as city after city went under lockdown because of the new coronavirus. Social distancing became the new norm.
Games and events got canceled or upended—as well as many of the resources that some investors rely on to do business. Recession, income loss, and mortgage defaults loomed for many desperate homeowners. They worried about how to sell a burdensome house when inviting anyone inside may also invite illness. From an investor’s perspective, the opportunity to help was there but it became more challenging than ever to access it.
That is when I realized that the virus would require us to change how we do business—again. This isn’t the first time our industry has had to pivot. As a seasoned investor who survived, and even thrived, during the housing bubble, let me tell you how the ongoing coronavirus may affect real estate investors like you and what you can do about it.
How Real Estate Investors Like You Might Be Affected By Coronavirus
Ask any real estate investor about what they struggle with most and you’ll hear about inadequate training, low-quality investment tools, chasing leads that go nowhere, and unfulfilling networking outlets. And, it’s only gotten harder with the new virus in our midst. Let me narrow down how the coronavirus will continue to further impact each of these aspects of your business.
Getting professional training
As a real estate investor, one of the best ways you can ride out the virus-driven recession storm is by improving your knowledge and skills through education. Unfortunately, during this Covid-19 pandemic, when people are trying to maintain their distances, most in-person seminars and training have been postponed tentatively through October or even canceled. A few are still going ahead with their planned training events, potentially risking the health of the attendees.
To keep up with the situation, you might have considered taking advantage of online real estate investment courses. There are some popular and established courses like the ones from Udemy and Harvard Business School Online that you can enroll in. But, if you ask me, certification is a waste of time as no home seller is going to ask whether you are certified. Also, I am not very sure of how much real estate investing you will learn about in such a six-week course. Learning from a successful real estate investor and getting hands-on experience in finding properties, evaluating repair estimates, or determining exit strategies is something you might not experience through an online course.
While looking for online opportunities to learn more about real estate investing, you’ll also need to beware of shady ‘guru’ investors who are taking advantage of the pandemic and quickly developing their own online training to fill the education gap. Most, in my opinion, are of questionable quality. Some are even teaching potentially illegal practices to get leads such as skiptracing and contacting absentee homeowners or those receiving foreclosure notices. In Maryland, for instance, you can receive a $5,000 per advertisement penalty for marketing directly to homeowners in pre-foreclosure.
Accessing the tools of the trade
With open houses and auctions getting postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, real estate investors like you will be relying more heavily on technology than ever. Many sheriff auctions have gone online and homeowners are giving virtual-only tours of their properties. Due diligence is being conducted with the help of contractors who are inspecting the homes while keeping social distance and sending repair estimates over emails. Wholesale deals are getting finalized with closing docs being e-signed through software like DocuSign.
Thankfully, most of us always had a few good apps at our disposal, much like before the coronavirus started. You might be already using some of what you think are the best apps for real estate investors such as Property Evaluator, Property Fixer, Realtor.com, HomeSnap, and Auction.com. Frankly, I have my reservations about these apps as they usually address only one aspect of the business and do not provide a comprehensive picture. Relying on a patchwork of apps and software to gather data for your sales funnel can turn messy quick.
Looking for leads
As a new or even seasoned investor, you are well aware of the struggles of finding potential leads for wholesaling or buying, rehabbing, and selling. Chances are high that you might have already gone through the tried and tested ways to get motivated home seller leads. With in-person networking events and home auctions nowhere on the horizon, however, finding distressed homeowners has become more difficult than it already was. And, folks do not want you knocking on their doors, either.
This has led some ill-advised investors to resort to potentially unlawful practices such as hiring freelancers on Fiverr to skiptrace leads or even cold calling homeowners who are on Do Not Call registry. During such desperate times, you might be tempted to resort to these tactics, too, but it could land you in hot water.
But, there are still options for leveraging the online space right now to find leads. You might consider stretching your social media outreach more than ever. Have you looked at how some investors are showing off their prior rehab projects on Facebook and Instagram? Well, I am all up for sharing a portfolio of prior investment deals on social media—as long as it is original and not misleading. Special lenses and filters make everything, including distressed properties, look glossier on social media.
You can also try searching for leads through online auctions. Your local county sheriff’s website is a good place to start. But, is there a catch? Properties listed on these sites are usually in a bad shape and you are often not allowed to conduct a home inspection before bidding. Despite that, the competition tends to be pretty tough because so many other investors are interested, too.
Building your support network
Investors are actively networking through social media nowadays but it has its own risks too. I have been a member of a few real estate investing groups on Facebook. A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from an eager, young member asking me to mentor him. Being in the business for more than two decades, I love to interact with such people.
But, it caught me off guard when he asked me about how much I charge for mentoring. Well, kid, you don’t know me and I might be a bad guy, ripping you off! My sincere advice to all new investors out there is to stay away from such risky online interactions with strangers.
Another trend that I noticed recently was new investors asking each other on Facebook groups to joint venture (JV) on deals. This is again a grey area as you might be dealing with a stranger whose goals might not be the same as yours and you are enticed to work with him because of the money he is bringing to the table. Always remember that too many cooks spoil the broth.
As a seasoned real estate investor, I understand how difficult it is to sail through these choppy waters in the present time. Yet, all is not lost and you can still make the best out of this situation.
What You Can Do to Sail Through Coronavirus Crisis
Long ago, a former coworker had introduced me to the nationwide network of independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisees, and joining the network has still been one of the best decisions of my professional real estate investing career. It’s one that helped me thrive even through uncertain times like these. Here is how being a member of the nationally-known and trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” team helped me achieve my investing goals:
- Training: With so many short-term real estate investment training programs being conducted by investment pundits during coronavirus, it is only natural for you to get wary about dealing with someone you do not know. HomeVestors®’ comprehensive week-long training course is currently conducted in a virtual classroom and you will receive pro-tips not just in the classroom but when you are in the field as well. You will develop career-long relationships.
Even new HomeVestors® franchisees with no prior experience in real estate investing can get up to speed and can make effective investment decisions right out of the gate. The top-notch training has helped over 1,100 independently owned and operated franchisees to sell more than 110,000 houses since 1996. In the current situation, this tried and true training program has translated very well to the online environment.
- Tools: As a HomeVestors® franchise, you have access to all the proprietary tools for a streamlined, home buying process, through a single platform UGVilleSM. This innovative platform includes all the apps you’ll need for your real estate investment deals including:
⃞ A streamlined listing portal, DealVestorsDM
⃞ A lead conversion tool to track your sales pipeline
⃞ A sophisticated lending portal that connects you to reputable lenders
⃞ A property analysis and valuation app, ValueChekTM
The best part about UGVilleSM is that you track the progress of your investment deals through one integrated platform, and not a patchwork of different tools that would add up to confusion and stress.
- Leads: Gone are the days when I used to chase leads by knocking on their doors. I am sure that you have come across the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” ads. Homeowners have, too, so they know who to call when they need to sell. It keeps my phone ringing with queries from qualified leads.
- Networking: During the coronavirus, it is important for you to network—especially with established investors who have witnessed, survived, and even thrived in similar crises in the past. Many of HomeVestors®’ franchisees have been in the business for a long time and bring that wealth of experience to the table when mentoring new franchisees.
As Development Agents (DAs), these experienced HomeVestors® franchisees help new franchisees learn the ropes by keeping regular contact with them. The DAs are genuinely invested in helping new franchisees make good investment decisions as their success is defined by the success of those they mentor.
You can reduce uncertainty as a real estate investor during the coronavirus time by accessing some of the best training, tools, and unlimited networking support from the most trusted and widely-known independently owned and operated professional real estate investor franchisee network. Call HomeVestors® about franchise options today and make strides in your real estate investment career—even during the coronavirus.
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.