Thursday, March 19, 2009

Can You Still Make Money in Real Estate as an Investor?

I know I wrote about this last November but I realized that I did not answer that particular question. I was derailed into the real estate market. But the question asked here is "Can You Make Money in Real Estate?" especially in the economy we are in.

My answer is still YES! But how you make money has changed radically in the last six months. I will relate what changes we have gone through to illustrate. In May of 2008 we were running a good direct marketing campaign to a lot of different people (Out of area owners, high equity owners, distressed owners, etc..). We would get a good response from our mailings. But around August we started to see a change. The number of calls were decreasing. We compensated for this by increasing our mailings and the number of calls stabilized. But we kept having to increase our mailings to keep the number of calls coming in the same each month. Also the number of appointments to talk to sellers fell also. As the economy started to sour, people decided that change, any kind, was bad. Everyone wanted to stay in their homes instead of making a moving.

Meanwhile the number of closing we did each month was decreasing. Also the exit strategy changed very quickly. We discovered, fortunately for us, the exit strategy we were basing our business model on was not going to work. Any business model that relied on a retail buyer (average Joe in the market place - that needed a loan to buy) was not going to qualify for a conventional loan unless they had a sterling credit rating. Fewer and fewer were in this category everyday. We switched our buying & selling model to a buy and hold model. We buy, with private money, with the idea of cash flow each month. The big payoff will occur years down the road. We still pull a small amount out at closing, but the primary focus of the property is positive cash flow. We stiff offer our properties with owner financing (8% down payment) and Lease Purchase Option (3% Option Fee) which generates lots of calls.

The days of buying a property for 60% on the dollar, rehabbing it and selling it for 95% on the dollar to a retail buyer are gone for now. We need the credit market to stabilize first and then resume a reasonable practice of lending before we can think about that again. I do not know when that will be, but I will be watching for it and as soon as I see it I will let you know.

See Ya,

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