A ‘Who’s Who” For Real Estate Investors
Remember all the new people you met on your first day at your job? Not only was it hard to remember all their names, but you were also probably trying to remember who was responsible for what. Those first few days are difficult for everyone! Hopefully you had a new coworker or two who was willing to help you keep everyone and their responsibilities straight during your on-boarding. A reliable insider can make any introduction easier and quicker.
Just like starting a new job, beginning your experience as a real estate investor will involve meeting a cast of new people, each with very specific and very different skills and responsibilities. Let us be that helpful coworker who helps you get through all the introductions and is a trusted source of ‘who’s who’ for your house flipping project. Knowing who to ask for what, and what type of service you can expect from each player will help you dive right in and get started in real estate investing.
Here is a list of several people you will encounter during your house flip project. We’ve listed the major players and what they should contribute in their role.
Real Estate Investing Who’s Who:
The first person you’ll probably encounter when it comes to real estate investing is your realtor. While you may have a realtor who you typically work with to find a new home or apartment for yourself, you’d be wise to look for a realtor who has experience working with house flippers or specializes in distressed or foreclosed properties. Typical realtors will be focused on what features you need for your lifestyle, and how to find the best house in your price range. A realtor who is experienced with house flippers will understand that you are looking for a house with the most potential to increase in value with a rehab. These houses might be the ugliest, least desirable homes around. An experienced house flipping realtor will know these traits are less important than potential. They will also understand that every cent you save on the purchase price is a cent towards your total profit and they will therefore be less hesitant to submit lowball offers.
Expect your Realtor to:
Help you find distressed, dated, foreclosed, or undesirable homes on the market
Help you analyze the neighborhood to calculate a realistic after repair value
Help you identify neighborhood features that might impact the homes final value
Negotiate with the seller to get you the lowest possible purchase price
Whether the seller of the property you want to purchase is a private seller or wholesaler, their primary interest will be getting the most money from the sale of the property. People are usually more inclined to be business-minded when selling a house and more emotional when buying a house, so be careful not to forget that the transaction as a real estate investor is 100% about potential profit and 0% about your personal feelings about the property.
Expect your Seller/Wholesaler to:
Negotiate the price upward from your initial offer
Pretend they have other offers or avoid answering specific questions about the property
We love house flipping partnerships. Teams who are smart about dividing the labor and expenses have an easier time overall than solo flippers. Finding each partner’s strength and letting them run with it is the best way to go.
Expect your Business Partner to:
Be clear about what they are contributing to the project (money, time, expertise?)
Sign an agreement between the two of you about what each will contribute and how profits will be divided when you sell the house
Step in when you are unavailable
Most people are not clear on what a title company does. Title companies review all documentation regarding the ownership of a property, and once they determine a title is clear, insure against any back claims. In short, they make sure that the seller of a property owns 100% of it and that they therefore have the right to sell 100% of it to you. Tax liens, contractor liens, or bank liens can take ownership rights away from the seller if they exist. A clear title and title insurance will prevent you from getting stuck with old bills, liabilities, or debts.
Expect your Title Company to:
Organize all paperwork regarding the transfer of ownership for the property
Ensure that the seller owns full rights to the property and that no liens exists against it
File and record information about the sale of the property with the local record keeping office
Some states require an attorney be involved in every real estate transaction. Even if your state does not have this requirement, it is in your best interest to have someone with your legal best interests at heart review all of the documents and agreements before signing off on them. The addition or subtraction of a single sentence can swing liabilities from one party to another and cost you thousands of dollars in the long run if those sentences are written by someone who’s not on your side.
Expect your Attorney to:
Carefully review all documents related to the transaction and advise you of any issues that may be presented
Negotiate revisions to the loan documents for your benefit
Review the title documents as presented by the title company to make sure that all title issues are resolved to your benefit
Attend closing with you to insure that the transaction closes as expected
Real estate investing is made more accessible by the private lenders who are willing to fund deals for capable investors who don’t have the liquid cash to carry a project from start to finish. Your lender should think of themselves as part of your team, with only your success as their goal. Remember, lenders don’t want you to default on a loan because it hurts them too. Trust your lender’s recommendations for the size of loan you should be comfortable with, their assessment of the profitability of your project, and your qualification for the loan in the first place. If you fail on your house flipping project, your lender loses money and loses the potential for a repeat borrower. They should want you to succeed as a smart investor every step of the way.
Expect your Lender to:
Honestly evaluate your finances before approving you for a loan
Give you honest feedback about the potential for success with your proposed project
Ask about specific improvements you will be making to the project and your assessment of the after repair value of the home
Recommend the size of loan that is appropriate for you considering your finances
Check in on you frequently to see how your project is progressing
An underwriter is a member of your lending team who is responsible for thoroughly evaluating your financial situation. In order to do their job, they will request a lot of documents and financial records and ask you to explain any large deposits, withdrawals, or other significant monetary changes on your financial record. This is not a time to hold back! Remember, the goal of the lending team is to make sure it is in your and their best interests to share funds. If the underwriter evaluates your portfolio and decides you are not in good enough shape to handle a fix and flip loan at this time – trust them. You might even ask them for advice on what red flags your application has and how you might make your application stronger for the next time you apply.
Expect your Underwriter to:
Seem SUPER nosey:)
Ask for details about unexplained, large transactions in your financial history, especially regarding cash
Be transparent about what caused your loan denial (if applicable).
Financial Controller (Lender)
The financial controller is another member of the lender’s team. They are in charge of monitoring your interest payments, draw releases, escrow balance, and final loan payout.
Expect your Financial Controller to:
Provide a list of all fees and payments due at closing BEFORE closing
Provide an estimate of the interest only payment you will make each month
Ask for a list or repairs with repair costs at the beginning of the project
Disburse funds from draw requests ASAP
Some house flippers like to manage everything themselves, while others prefer to hire a project manager to arrange contractor duties, schedule each step of the process, and monitor the progress and quality of the work. Someone needs to oversee the project from a managerial perspective to avoid hold ups or mistakes.
Expect your Project Manager to:
List all contractors and subcontractors who will be working on the job and keep a contact list for emergencies
Provide a detailed schedule of the work to be completed that minimizes downtime and wait for overlapping tasks
Report to you on a regular basis about the progress of the project or lack thereof
Be good at managing people!
Inspectors play a much bigger role in real estate investing than the typical real estate transaction. When a real estate investor hires an inspector during the purchase process, the inspector will evaluate the home as-is, but also review the purchaser’s list of improvements to make sure they match up with the needs of the house and that the costs are in line with the ARV. Inspectors will also be signing off on the completion of projects periodically to provide to the lender for each draw request.
Expect your Inspector to:
Provide a report on the as-is condition of the property and alert you to any serious red flags
Share this report with the lender and title company
Be available within a reasonable amount of time to inspect work as it is completed
Deliver inspections reports directly to your lender ASAP after periodic inspections
All of these people will play an important part in your success as a real estate investor. Remember that perfect teams aren’t built overnight and that if one of the people who you should be able to rely on is letting you down, you have every right to replace them with another service provider.