When Steve decided to start buying distressed properties for sale in NJ to renovate and sell, he came to me for advice. I’ve been investing in New Jersey real estate, mostly in the Jersey City area, for a long time and have tried just about every trick in the book for finding good deals. I’ve never been afraid to try new tools and tactics either—like searching the internet —even though I consider myself an old-school pro. Since Steve said he really wanted to know how to build a property portfolio quickly and efficiently, he was especially curious about whether or not he could find the best deals online. Not one to waste time myself, I told him where he could look.
Finding Distressed NJ Properties for Sale Online
It’s not really so much a question of “Should I buy an investment property from online sources?” It’s mostly a question of which websites do the best job of pointing you in the right direction for good deals. Let’s face it, you can find lots of cheap buys fast on a lot of things online. Why should finding real estate investment opportunities be any different? To see whether it’s true, let’s quickly look at the most popular websites for finding online deals so that you can get on with your investing day.
Sheriff Sales, like those held in Essex and Middlesex counties, are usually conducted at the county sheriff’s department, but you can find a lot of information about them online. By checking your county sheriff’s website, you can get auction dates and times, sale terms, even whether there are any liens or other encumbrances disclosed by the previous owners or lenders. Sometimes, detailed descriptions and pictures are available too. The purpose of these public auctions is to offload homes that have been seized, frequently due to foreclosure or tax liens. The properties are generally in pretty bad shape and that’s why starting bids are typically priced well below market value.
What you won’t find online, however, is just how beat up these properties can be, how unlikely you are to win the bid, and how expensive it could be in the end if you do. By the time a seized home goes to auction, it’s often been sitting for months, or years, and falling further into disrepair. But, you won’t know how bad it is because online pictures only tell so much and performing a home inspection prior to bidding is rarely, if ever, allowed.
Lenders who are awarded properties after a foreclosure sometimes add the houses back into their inventory and provide a list of properties for sale online. These lenders, usually banks and credit unions, may renovate and resell their properties at full market value or sell them at a discount as-is. Whichever the case may be, you can routinely find foreclosed homes for sale by going to a big lender’s website and searching by state. With Salem, Atlantic, and Warren counties having the highest foreclosure rates in New Jersey, checking the websites of local lenders there, in particular, should produce a lead or two for investing in New Jersey real estate.
But, depending on any lender’s website for finding distressed properties with enough upside potential is likely only going to disappoint. In today’s market, many banks and credit unions tend to price their inventory at the After Repair Value (ARV) regardless of the home’s condition. And, with lending guidelines getting relaxed again, more owner-occupants are taking on loans large enough to give the banks what they’re asking for, whether it’s a good deal or not. That makes buying and renovating an REO a tough racket—and one you should avoid if you don’t want to risk overpaying.
Government Agencies also sell the houses they’ve foreclosed on when homeowners couldn’t make loan payments and these agencies advertise their homes for sale online too. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) is one example. Other agencies to check with include FannieMae, FreddieMac, and the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). You can look for local inventory on their websites if you search by state, county, city, and/or zip code. The bigger government agencies are pretty thorough in providing information about their properties too, primarily because they work with licensed real estate agents. So, unlike auctions, you’ll know more about what you’re getting into.
Unfortunately, there can be a lot of fine print—and red tape—when dealing with government agencies and the nitty-gritty details are rarely represented well on their websites, if you can find the information at all. With the NJHMFA, for example, finding their list of available properties is already difficult, but locating instructions on how to buy them is nearly impossible. So, before you get too excited about one of the deals you find listed with these agencies, take the time to consider that, unless you’ve got a reserve of patience to deal with them, you can probably find better deals elsewhere.
If you’ve done your research—something the internet also makes fast and easy—you already know which towns are best for buying investment property in NJ. But, browsing for the best real estate opportunities online can actually waste your time. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting across from the owner of a distressed property who’s contacted you directly than in front of a computer digging for deals in cyberspace? Of course, you would. And, here’s how you can make those connections.
Stop Browsing for the Best NJ Deals and Start Buying
Steve isn’t the first person to approach me about the best ways to find distressed properties to buy, renovate, and resell in New Jersey, and he won’t be the last. I’m known in local real estate investment circles for having a steady stream of motivated seller leads that keep me and my business bustling year-round. I’m also known for making those connections with distressed homeowners count. This is possible because I’m an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee. See, HomeVestors has some of the best marketing tools and resources to generate distressed homeowner leads and then send them to me. And, thanks to my “We Buy Ugly Houses®” team and training, I have the skills to close the deal. For me, it’s been a winning combination that can’t be beat—online or off.
Contact HomeVestors to get the leads and start investing in real estate more efficiently today!
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Prior to joining HomeVestors, I spent 20+ years as a senior corporate executive. The money was good but I just no longer enjoyed what I was doing. I had been looking at HomeVestors for a couple of years but they were not offering franchises in N.J at that time. I had zero experience in real estate investing and was impressed with the training and support HomeVestors offered. HomeVestors opened up the NJ market in February 2007 and I started in July. Best decision I ever made. We got off to a fast start and have purchased a couple hundred properties since. We could not have done this without the training, systems, marketing and support HomeVestors provides. We haven’t looked back since. We became Development Agents in 2010 and really enjoy working with new franchisees when they come on-board and helping them build a successful business.