No Deals on the MLS? Think again.

The MLS or platforms like Redfin or Realtor.com enable investors to access property listings from across the nation. However, having access to millions of listings can be daunting and make it difficult to find advantageous deals rather than dead ends.  To truly utilize the MLS for your real estate investing business, you need an edge.

Many real estate investors claim there are no deals on the MLS, but with the right tools you can find that needle in the haystack much easier. Here are 4 tips to ensure you are maximizing your ROI on the deals that you do find on the MLS: 

Leveraging Technology for Efficiency

Technology platforms such as Privy, Remine, and Propstream help efficiently search the MLS. Privy organizes deals on the MLS based upon buy box criteria you enter into the site. Remine and Propstream are list stacking platforms that search for public information, property information, and even can help track financial distress within a household. 

Without using these 3rd party applications, searches for all of this information would span across multiple platforms and use more of your time and effort. Using technology to eliminate tedious tasks, such as internet searches and cross referencing several websites, enables you to review more deals. Ultimately, utilizing technology allows you to cover more deals in the same span of time – you can spend less energy digging through listings, and more time assessing deals. 

AI, or artificial intelligence, is another useful tool to have in your toolbelt. House Canary and Andersen are two examples of real estate AI platforms that deliver property data, monetary insights, and overall business intelligence. AI such as House Canary will roughly calculate the price of repairs to a house based solely on pictures from the internet, saving you the time and headache of evaluating that information yourself. 

Grants and Loan Programs 

While browsing the MLS, it is important to know which properties are in historical districts and what grants and loan programs are offered for that specific area. Knowing this information could potentially save you millions of dollars. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers 20 different assistance programs for real estate investors. One popular program is the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which aids in the development of affordable housing. 

The Historic Preservation Fund is another popular federal grant program. Tax credits for historic properties can provide immense savings and tax cuts at the end of the year. Historical renovations and preservations may cost more up front because there are specific materials that need to be used when renovating. However, once your property is classified as historical, you will be able to save tens of thousands of dollars, making the pricey materials worth it in the long run. 

Loan programs such as the Live Where You Work Program provides downpayment support to buyers. When fixing and flipping, research what areas participate in this program. Houses that fall under the Live Where You Work Program sell faster, and are more valuable overall to buyers because of the money they will save on a downpayment. 

These grants allow you to pay retail prices because the additional funding offsets your costs. Don’t forget to look at your city, county, and local municipalities for grant program opportunities.

Be Honest With Yourself 

What are your strengths as a real estate investor? What do you do better than everyone else in your market? It’s important to identify your fastball, and to stick to it. Become an expert so you have an advantage over other investors in your area. It could, for example, be a specific neighborhood, or even a specific street. 

To gain an edge on the MLS, you need to know the areas you are searching well. If you know a house will sell for more in a specific neighborhood because you know the area- you have a leg up above your competitors. 

Practice underwriting on a regular basis to sharpen your skills. For each property you underwrite, take note of any recently upgraded features such as roofs, hvac, plumbing etc. This completed work can reduce your renovation budget, allowing you to offer more upfront.

So You Found a Deal on the MLS, Now What? 

Give the seller an offer they can’t refuse. As an investor, you have access to funding that typical market homebuyers do not. You can pay cash or work with a hard money lender to offer superior contract terms like, no appraisal contingency, no home inspections, and quick closing timelines. Some sellers find low-risk offers highly appealing, and would be willing to accept a lower contract price in exchange for these terms. 

The most important partnership for an investor can be a lender. A reputable lender is key when investing in real estate – look for terms, interest rates , and other financing programs offered that align with your business goals. Check out Dominion Financial Services’ short term bridge loans with 100% acquisition financing and 100% rehab financing. Dominion can close in as little as 48 hours with no appraisal, and offers a long-term DSCR rental loan to refinance into after the renovation is complete.

The above article was based on an interview with Brian Leibowitz, Director of Acquisitions at Dominion Properties. Dominion Properties is a cash home buyer in the greater Baltimore area operating over 800 rental properties and transacting more than 100 homes a year. Brian is also a licensed realtor in the state of Maryland.

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