The Best Real Estate Investing Tools: An Ultimate Guide
Does it seem like the real estate investors you admire have far more hours in the day than you do? Do they appear to get more done in a week, month, or year and, as a result, repeatedly earn good returns on great properties?
You and I both know that they don’t have more time. But, they may have access to better tools and resources. Some investors have simply found and learned to leverage the best real estate investing tools available to accomplish business-related tasks more efficiently and easily. That’s why they’re able to stay focused on building their real estate investing company.
If you’re ready to expand your business too, having the best tools at your disposal is essential to increasing your holdings in the new year—and in years to come. Luckily, there’s no need to let the sheer number and complexity of options overwhelm you. This guide will help you sift through the real estate investing tools that can make increasing your property portfolio—and your income—more streamlined than ever.
Building a Business With the Best Real Estate Investing Tools
Whether you’re in the business of buying, renovating, and selling houses for profit, purchasing properties to buy and hold, or both, you already know how important it is to find undervalued properties that hold the potential to produce solid returns. For sustainable success as a real estate investor, you’ve got to find motivated sellers of distressed properties on a regular basis. So, choosing the right resources for lead generation and management, property valuation and inspection, and maintenance and repair services for landlords is mission-critical for building your business. So, let’s get to it and take a look at some of the best tools available for investors.
Lead Generation and Management Systems
There are a variety of lead generation and management systems out there for real estate investors, but not all are created equal. The best systems integrate effective marketing techniques with other functionalities, like contact management, to help you run your investing business more efficiently. Whichever system you choose, and whatever bells and whistles they do or don’t offer, the importance of implementing some sort of lead-generating strategy can’t be overstated. After all, if you don’t know how to find a great investment property, you don’t have a way to build your business. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four of the better systems out there.
The database included with REIPro contains leads on millions of properties across the U.S. Once you’ve found one you’d like to buy, you can compare comps and submit an offer directly through the software. REIPro also has phone scripts and direct mail templates if you’re a new investor and have limited experience with advertising. Additionally, you can analyze potential deals using different exit strategies and make offers based on what works best for you and the seller. The downside is that it’s too easy to spend a lot of time just combing through the lead database for the right property. And, there’s no way to know how accurate or up-to-date the database is. So, you could end up wasting time on bad leads instead of closing deals on good investments.
Like REIPro, ProfitGrabber helps you compare property comps and make direct offers on the properties you like. It also automates form-filling, provides property reports from title companies, and helps you organize lead lists into marketing campaigns. In addition, it comes with skip-tracing, which allows you to track returned mail and auto-update your records with the correct information, and a legal library of documents that autofill with one click. Unfortunately, you will have to buy your leads elsewhere. It’s also unclear how often the forms are updated, if at all, or which title companies the information comes from. Plus, the program is difficult to download and learn for many, and the return policy is pretty narrow. For the money you pay up front for this program, you’re probably better off buying elsewhere.
Real Estate Investor 360
Real Estate Investor 360 offers a good-sized toolbox for managing leads and tracking deals. It automates emails for the contact lists you create, keeps track of client and vendor communication, manages calendars, and even generates contracts. It also gives property comps, evaluates rehab costs, and estimates potential returns—all from your phone. But, unfortunately, there’s no way to know how accurate the data is. And, because the software fails to provide a database of leads or any support for creating a robust printed marketing campaign, it’s not the biggest, or the best, toolbox you can buy.
MAPS is a software platform that was custom-built for HomeVestors® franchisees. One of the values of using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) mobile app like MAPS is that it is optimized for mobile devices and integrates multiple functionalities, so there’s no need to use several different software applications. And MAPS, which is proprietary to HomeVestors®, is the only real estate investing software that fits this bill.
MAPS lets you connect to and communicate directly with motivated home sellers and manage your deals through every stage of the sales funnel. When distressed homeowners reach out to HomeVestors as a result of the widely trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” national advertising campaign, they are automatically entered into MAPS lead funnel. Then, those leads are distributed to local independently owned and operated franchisees who can use ready-made scripts to reach out to the homeowners and follow up with email drip campaigns to help convert their leads into clients. MAPS helps you collect and organize information about a property—like photos and related contracts—as well. But, the best part is that it’s also plug-and-play, which means it’s easy to install on your phone or computer and even easier to learn. Personally, I think it’s one of the best tools for real estate investors in terms of tracking and converting leads into real investing opportunities.
While each of these programs come with multiple benefits, most of them, on their own simply can’t do everything you need in a simple, straightforward way. Often, they’re not always easy to learn either. MAPS is the exception. So, going with a real estate investing franchise, like HomeVestors, that generates leads through the nationally-known and trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” ad campaign and provides free access to MAPS, makes for a much smarter investment.
Property Valuation and Inspection Tools and Resources
Not every distressed property automatically makes a good real estate investment. If you don’t have the tools to properly evaluate a property and estimate repairs, what looks like a lucky break can end up breaking your bank. Miscalculating the renovation or getting hit with surprise repair costs are critical errors that can lead to huge losses. So, consider these tools to help you make sense of the numbers and get the most bang for your buck.
Inspecting the interior of a property is important, but it’s not always enough to get an accurate estimation of all potential repair costs. In the past, however, thoroughly investigating hard-to-reach places like balconies and roofs, was sometimes skipped. Today, drones are starting to change that. When using drones for a home inspection, you can capture images and video for a more detailed examination of these places. Drones with thermal imaging also allow you to detect insulation problems, roof leaks, and HVAC issues. And, buying a drone outright, or hiring a property inspector who uses one, isn’t as expensive as it used to be. In fact, the cost can be well worth it if it saves you from cost-prohibitive repairs and the loss of potential profits.
A Network of Experts
You’ll need a team of industry-specific pros who are each experts in their respective fields to help you evaluate your investment property as skillfully as possible. In order to gain perspective on the true costs of renovating a house, each of the systems within the home should be inspected to ensure you’re not buying a money pit. You’ll need to hire a licensed home inspector as well as an electrician, plumber, roofer, or other appropriate professionals to perform inspections and help estimate repairs. The strength and quality of these professionals are crucial to seeing good returns on any one investment, but also for realizing a long career as an investor. So, build a network of experts you can trust to help you build a career on good investment decisions.
Seeing a good return on your investment means you have to buy at the right price, and for that you’ve got to have an accurate way to calculate the numbers. But it’s not always possible or convenient to bring a contractor or other experts to an initial viewing, especially if you’ve got great leads on distressed homeowners and are visiting a lot of properties. But that shouldn’t stop you from carefully evaluating rehab costs and estimating the after repair value, in addition to reviewing area comps, before making an offer. And, if there’s competition for a property, you’ve got to be able to do these things fast.
Luckily, there are apps out there, like HomeVestors®’ proprietary software ValueChek® that help you get the numbers right quickly. ValueChek also adjusts estimates according to local material and labor costs. Furthermore, it allows you to enter specifics like actual square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms—information that’s not always accurate online or in public records. Knowing these details can help you decide whether a property is a good buy and to confidently make an offer at the right price.
Maintenance and Repair Services for Landlords
When it comes to managing the regular upkeep and any repairs of your rental after buying and renovating the property, there are several home services that can make the job easier—and cheaper—than if you tried to tackle certain tasks yourself. And, you can access these services through some of the best apps for investment property care and maintenance, making the search for affordable experts faster than ever. Here are a few of the more reliable landlord apps for investors:
Whether you need help with a small repair job or a large renovation project, HomeAdvisor puts you in touch with up to four prescreened contractors who service your area and want to compete for your business. You can review their qualifications and reviews right from the app before agreeing to an appointment. When you get a quote, the app’s TrueCost tool compares that information with regionally-specific material and labor costs. So, you’ll know if you’re getting a good deal, or not, right out of the gate. And, if you like the numbers but don’t have the funds, you can apply for financing as well.
For handyman, installation, and repair jobs, SERVIZ provides standardized quotes on many services and lets you schedule appointments within the app. Some services are priced by the hour, but an estimate of cost is supplied at the time of your appointment and before work begins. For smaller maintenance-related issues or even remodels, this app is a time-saver, especially when you need the help of multiple professionals at once. Also, if you like the professional that the service sends you, you may request them again for future jobs either through the app or by contacting them directly.
If you need lawn care, just once or on an ongoing basis, TaskEasy connects you with insured landscapers who can mow the grass, care for trees, rake leaves, and shovel snow. Just about any yard maintenance-related task can be requested through the app, after which you’ll receive several quotes so that you can choose the contractor and price that works best for you. They’ll also consolidate your billing if you own multiple properties—even if those properties are in different cities or states. Best of all, they guarantee the work of their providers.
A Recognizable Brand
One of the best real estate investing tools is a well-respected and recognizable brand. Branding allows you to capitalize on the characteristics that define your real estate investing company and its values and, in doing so, differentiates you from other real estate investors. It also makes you memorable—especially when you’re known for doing great work—and gives you a better chance at gaining traction with homeowners who are in distress and need someone to trust. In a competitive industry like real estate investing, distinction is a strong ally for building a portfolio and your business.
Unfortunately, it takes a lot of money, effort, and time—sometimes years—to build a well-known brand. You may not have these to spend if you’re just starting a career in real estate investing or hustling to keep an existing business going. Your first, and possibly easiest step, is choosing a name for your real estate investing business. But, thereafter, you’ll need to carve out a niche in the marketplace and build awareness around it. That takes advertising online, in print, on TV, and over the radio–costly endeavors whether you do it yourself or hire a marketing company to handle it for you.
Cheaper, and less time-consuming, than building a brand from the ground up is buying a real estate investing franchise from an established company with a solid reputation. Independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisees are able to leverage the respect and trust the HomeVestors name generates. And, HomeVestors earned their reputation by successfully, and ethically, buying over 95,000 houses in 46 states since 1996. As a real estate investor, it’s good company to be in.
The HomeVestors Difference
There are a lot of real estate investing tools out there that can help you gain an edge on the competition. But most of them, on their own, can’t cover all the bases. If you choose to buy several to make sure you’ve got everything you need to make your business succeed, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on tools that may or may not work cohesively together.
But, the HomeVestors® franchise is different. It’s the only option that provides proven marketing tools with a nationally-known brand, as well as lead generation, property valuation, and performance tracking software in one comprehensive program. You also get tech support and access to a large network of other franchisees and a Development Agent who can advise you whenever you need them. Best of all, these tools are included for free as a part of being an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee.
To find out more about the best real estate investing tools on the market—and how to access them today—contact HomeVestors about joining the team.
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated