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How to Begin Investing in Foreclosed & Distressed Properties

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Author: Ryan Walls

Quitting your current job to invest full-time in real estate is an important decision. Fear is the biggest road block we put in front of ourselves, even if what we fear will change our circumstances for the better. Unless you are financially able to support yourself for one year while you get started, you'll need to wisely prepare to quit your job before you take the leap.

Organize a room for you to work in. Be as focused as possible and be serious. If you treat real estate investing like a hobby, it will reward you as one. If you treat it like a business, you will earn a paycheck.

Quick books will help you keep your finances organized. A word processing program will help you put together your letters, postcards, or flyers that you will use for marketing campaigns.

Next, build your team. You will need a closing agent who is investor friendly. Money… find your local hard money lenders (usually at the investor club) and introduce yourself. Find out what their lending criteria is, how fast they can perform and what terms they offer. Lastly, gather a small group of friends, family or teenagers who share your excitement and enthusiasm. A simple desire to earn extra money will do. Tell them that you are beginning to invest in foreclosed and distressed properties. You want them to share the experience, so you are seeking sweat partners. A sweat partner is someone who will help you market and birddog to find sellers. They will then receive their paycheck when they refer you a deal that closes. In other words, you duplicate yourself wherever possible to find deals. When you make money, your sweat partner earns a percentage. You can have kids placing flyers on homes, folks driving around with magnetic signs on their car, and people hanging our bandit signs. In other words, don't compensate them until you get compensated. Be creative and learn how to leverage everything around you. One of the best places to find your team players is your local real estate investment association. Visit (USA) to find the one closest to you.

It is imperative that you know your numbers. You must track where your leads come from; how much it costs to generate a lead from the above source; how many leads turned into deals. Lastly, how many accepted offers do you need in order to close one deal? When you track the answers to these questions, you will be a marketing dynamo. Your profit will increase because you know exactly where to market to get the results.

Once you have determined your budget and how much you must earn in order to change careers, it will be easier for you to determine the number of deals necessary to earn those figures. One of the biggest mistakes new investors make is that as soon as they find a deal, they begin to work it using all of their time. Meanwhile, they stop marketing to find more sellers. The problem ……. If the one deal they spend all of their time on falls apart, they lose out big. On the other hand, even if it closes, they literally start all over again with marketing until they find their next deal. You must market, market and then market some more. You can't stop marketing just because you are working a current deal. This is called "filling the funnel". You must fill the funnel until there are so many deals in your pipeline that they finally start popping out of the bottom of the funnel, which equals a closing, aka, a paycheck!

This leads us to the next subject… how do you find these great deals? How do you find enough of them that you can fill your funnel and ultimately quit your job?

What are you willing to do to make this career change?

Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone?

Will you make conversation with anyone at anytime?

Will you actually do this?

The more assertive you are at marketing the more deals you will get. Keeping that in mind, let's discuss some finding techniques beginning with the most assertive methods down to the more passive techniques. Remember most people will not move outside their comfort zone, therefore less investors use the most assertive methods. This means that there is less competition at this level of marketing. Likewise, anyone can mail a letter and most do; therefore you will find your highest number of competitors mailing letters and subsequently you will receive the smallest number of deals at that level. Of course, these rules will be different for the investor who is in an area without many competitors.

Start with accessing public information regarding foreclosures, bankruptcy, evictions, delinquent real estate taxes and probate. You can subscribe to services that provide this information via the internet or you can go to your local courthouse and access it yourself. Once you have the addresses of the properties that appear to be "in distress", you now have a basis on which to perform your marketing.

Door knock folks in foreclosure. Properly plan your time so you can knock one to two doors on your way home from work each day and several on Saturdays. Simply run through the list of folks in distress, map out the locations and route your drive home from work accordingly. What will you say…?

Hi, my name is _________, and my company specializes in helping folks find real solutions to their real estate problems. We (if you are with another person) came by today to see how we could help you. How can we help you?

You must practice asking questions that do not require a "yes or no" answer. In a way, you are surprising the seller who may not understand exactly what "public records" truly means. The seller probably wants you to go away, but if you can invoke conversation, you will do more deals. You must prepare to handle the objections that the seller may have against selling so you can be a better negotiator.

Caution: You never know who will answer the door, so be careful!

Do you like to talk on the telephone? When public records reflect the seller's phone number, simply call and use the same script with the obvious changes to speak with a seller about making an appointment. There are several internet search sites available to help you locate sellers and their contact numbers when public record runs short on data. One advantage to this method is that you can reach a lot more people by telephone than by driving around knocking on doors.

Are you a shy investor who doesn't want to intrude on a seller to save their day? Mailing campaigns will work for your business. Keep in mind that most investors mail to homeowners in foreclosure, making this method the most time consuming and least rewarding marketing technique. On the other hand, you only need a few deals a year to earn a living. It is very important to know your numbers when it comes to mailers because there are so many ways to word your materials. Each time you change the wording, you must track the marketing all over again. If you are absolutely stuck on mailing campaigns, then try multi-mailer campaigning. This is when your customer receives more than one mailer from you. In order to be the most effective and to obtain the best results, the least amount you should mail to expect a response is five. If you invest in an area with a short foreclosure period, then your mailers must go out nearly every other day from the time the foreclosure is public record. If the process is longer, then mailing weekly will suffice.

To avoid competitors, consider "farming". Farming is when you choose an area (perhaps by zip code) that you would like to concentrate your investing. Then simply mail to this area regularly. The marketing piece would focus on them to sell their home for any reason whatsoever, especially if they are in trouble. This is effective because the homeowners are not being bombarded by mailing campaigns like folks in foreclosure. The more you mail to folks outside of your competitors campaign, the more results you will receive. Another great mailing database that your competitors fall short on is all of the other public record distresses that we looked at above. Try mailing to people who are heirs in probate cases, people in bankruptcy, divorcing couples who own real estate together, landlords who are evicting tenants and folks behind in their real estate taxes. These are all distresses that you have access to. Many of these are only weeks away from falling into foreclosure. Why don't you reach them before all of your competitors?

How about those magnetic car signs? This is the easiest and cheapest way you can immediately begin marketing. In fact everyone who has a car in your household should display these signs for you. People do come up and ask about services. You would have your business cards/or and brochures with you at all times in order to pass out. Remove them when you knock doors or go on distressed seller appointments because people in distress tend to be a bit paranoid that those signs tell their neighbors about their situation. Your car sign could simply say: We buy houses… 555-5555 or something else that relays your business.

Running newspaper ads will make your phone ring. It is always nice to be called rather than be the one calling. When a seller contacts you, you feel so much better about asking questions that come to mind. Any type of marketing where a seller can reach you about their situation is great. However, just because a seller is calling to sell their home, does not mean that they want to take your offer. Try to get to the bottom line while on the phone so you can avoid wasting time traveling to visit an unmotivated seller just to tour the home. When you are new, you will spend a lot of time trying to determine if a seller is really motivated. That is OK, because you learn from the experience. As you become more experienced, you will learn how to screen these time consuming, non-motivated sellers. Your ad could read. "Cash for your home, any situation, any condition - call __________ for a solution."

Note: anytime you can reach an audience before their situation is public record, you avoid competition. That is why marketing for sellers to call you is equally valuable as it is for you to assertively pursue those who have situations of public record. It is important to pursue several streams of marketing. There is no sure-fire method that brings in one awesome deal after the next. You will find the most success when you are able to consistently market, even if you take time to work on deals during the process. You must consistently market. No business is successful without an influx of customers.

Once you consistently have sellers calling and deals closing, you can begin to think seriously about quitting that job. If you had the 40 hours a week you are devoting to another boss, you can really make this business a success. As for health insurance, there are many companies that provide health insurance to individuals and families. If you are truly making more money because of real estate, you will be able to afford health insurance without a problem. As for fear, there is not much anyone can do to tackle this problem for you. The more you educate yourself and the more action you take, the less fearful you will be. Don't try to be the "all knowing" investor. That will never happen and you will never start. We learn something new on each and every deal that makes us better. So, what are you waiting for? Go get started!

About the author: For more information on Ryan Walls and his powerful strategies, visit

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