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Real Estate or Residential Notes—What Makes a Good Deal?

Finding good residential and real estate notes

I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the question: Is this a good note deal? So, first, let’s consider why people ask this question. I think it’s because they want to hear your response or opinion of what a good note deal actually is. Although I’m honored that those who ask me value my opinion, I don’t want to do them a disservice by giving them a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Besides, what’s a good note deal for me isn’t necessarily a good note deal for someone else. When a real estate investor, who’s getting started in notes, asks me about a note deal, I try to explain my take on it by relating it to a real estate deal.

So, What Makes a Good Real Estate Deal?

At first, sometimes it is hard to tell, or to know, if you have a good deal until you get some experience. Let’s look at real estate, for example, there are several areas of a deal where you can make money:

  • The buy – When I first started in Real Estate, I paid close to retail like most people, who are just starting out. Today, I would usually only buy properties from motivated, or distressed, sellers. Another way to find a good deal on the buy, is finding a discrepancy in fair market value or a property in lesser conditions.
  • Rehabbing the property – Although heavy rehabs tend to be more profitable, sometimes you can find properties that don’t need as much done and that can be turned around quickly. If you have experience rehabbing, you may also have more knowledge of what everything costs. Another skill set that can give you an advantage, besides creativity and the ability to rehab a property, involves managing contractors.
  • Management –Were your estimates accurate? Did you come in under budget? Did you finish the rehab in a timely manner? If you’re using private money, the longer the deal takes, the more it will cost you.
  • Shopping for financing – The time and effort it takes to find financing, as well as the type of financing you find, can affect the profitability of your deal. For example, private money is usually cheaper than hard money. Also, people with good credit get better terms.
  • Foresight – Your level of foresight can go a long way. For example, there was a property I paid retail for ($65,000), but I saw potential to build a commercial garage on an adjacent lot. Now, the property is worth over $200,000.
  • Marketing – If you’re skilled at marketing, you will get the property rented or sold quicker than someone, who’s not skilled at marketing.

Any of these things can turn an okay deal into a really good deal.

I remember when my cousin and I were investing in similar types of properties; he always had to get a great deal on the buy side because he can’t change a light bulb. I, on the other hand, I had a few advantages. For one, I was a …read more