The most successful real estate investors surround themselves with a team of qualified professionals who help them achieve their dream of wealth building through buying real estate properties. While paying professionals for this may seem like an unnecessary expense right now it can save you much more money and time over the long term. Professionals who know their job and have years of experience behind them help protect you by creating a liability shield, develop a realistic investment budget, secure financing, keep costs under control, help you with timely repairs and renovation and help you sell your property eventually without any problems.
Having the right team by your side will help you to overcome any issues that come up. Do remember in the world of real estate something can and will go wrong. Having true blue professionals by your side can help you to muster up the confidence because experienced professionals will help you to maximize profit from your real estate investments. If you are serious about creating wealth through real estate investing then the most important members of your “dream team” should definitely include:
- A Real Estate Consultant
- A Construction Contractor
- A Lawyer
- A Certified CA
If you have a seasoned team guiding your transactions then even your first real estate purchase and sale will go smoothly. Do ensure that you know each of your team members well and that you have verified that they have experience in real estate. As with all good relationships it takes time to build such relationships. But you have to be patient because the time you invest in creating your team will be well worth the time and investment as you buy and sell multiple properties.
Real Estate Consultants
We will refer to the business of successful buying and selling of properties by an individual investor as “Flipping”. If you want more details information on the term “Flipping” then read one of our previous articles here – https://www.guptasen.com/flip-homes-make-money/. A successful house flip begins with buying the right property and for that you need the assistance of an experienced real estate agent who has access to distressed sale properties and other foreclosed mortgage properties that did not sell in property e-auctions held by banks and other financial institutions. Most good property consultants have information about distressed or bank-owned properties because of the simple reason that renowned property consultants are the one resource that most distress sellers and banks turn to when they want to sell off their properties in a hurry. We for one at Gupta & Sen always get calls from sellers and banks who want to sell their distress properties at less than market value and we maintain a detailed inventory of all such properties that can be a great value deal for a real estate flipper.
Additionally property consultants are also the crucial link between real estate investors and housing finance companies, contractors, lawyers and other professionals working in the real estate sector.
Bank Auction Properties
Some house flippers and real estate investors think it is a good idea to contact banks directly for buying loan default properties for sale. We would beg to differ. When you approach a bank to buy seized properties from loan defaulters you will have to face the bank’s sales committee and also a team of hard nosed lawyers who may change terms or introduce some legal clauses once a deal is already in progress. This has been known to happen many times. The banks who want to sell these default properties quickly will also be less open to compromising than a regular home seller. But if you have an experienced real estate consultant on your side negotiations with the bank can go much more smoothly and even influence the decision makers at the bank to accept your final offer.
Ways a Real Estate Agent Can Help You
Need we mention the number one reason why you need a seasoned real estate consultant on your side is because the consultant can help you find and buy properties that have the most potential for future sale. Experienced property consultants can offer a huge number of benefits namely:
- Inside information on distressed properties.
- In-depth information of neighbourhoods.
- Correctly pricing the property for a quick and profitable exit. Experienced property consultants have a knack for knowing the right price point at which a property can sell. They know the right price which is high enough for you to make a decent profit but not so high as to drive away potential buyers.
- Listing and marketing the Property. Property consultants like us already have a rich database of home buyers who are already looking for a certain type of property in a certain neighbourhood in the city. So you can be sure that your property interests the right kind of buyers when it time for you to sell.
- Connections with contractors and home financiers.
Most successful real estate flippers team up with reputed real estate consultants very early on in the process and continue to do so as they progress in order to get the best deals on properties in the market.
If you are a home flipper most often the properties you buy may be in a run-down condition or partially constructed. If you are buying an empty plot of land then it is a given that you will need to employ the services of a good contractor to build or renovate your property and create a final showpiece that is attractive enough to sell to buyers in the market for a profit. Having a reliable and experienced contractor can make your project profitable whereas the opposite is also true – Hiring an unreliable contractor can leave you broke!
When looking for a contractor for your apartment, villa or creating a new structure we advise you to arrange face-to-face meetings with every contractor that you are considering and treat every meeting like an interview for a job offer. Make sure that you are comfortable with the contractor and have a good feeling about their experience and also their commitment and dedication to the job. Eventually you must feel good about adding them to your team.
Questions to Ask your Contractor
- How long have you been doing this?
- How many projects like mine have you worked upon?
- What permits will my project require?
- Will you be able to obtain the necessary permits?
- What insurance coverage do you have?
- Will you be hiring sub-contractors?
- How long do you estimate my project to take?
- What is the best way to contact you?
- How do you deal with changes? (For Example if a particular Italian flooring is not available)
- How often will you yourself be on-site?
Also you should be asking for atleast 3 references from the contractor’s past customers.
Get Written Bids
Good contractors will provide bids to you in writing. The bid should include the following:
- Project start date
- Hours of work to be done each week on your site.
- Full cost estimate
- A detailed list of materials that will be used including (size, colour, models etc.)
- Mode of payment expected
- Expected Date of Completion
- Cleanup time period (hauling trash, cleaning spills, stains etc.)
It can be a little difficult to compare bids to each other especially if the contracts don’t have the same line items in the same manner. The best way to get around this is to create your own spreadsheet for the bids and fill in the blanks from each contractor so that you are able to see a more direct comparison.
Be Clear about Payments
For your protection, do not make the mistake of paying your contractor with cash. Except for small repairs and renovations, contractors should accept all payments through online payment or cheques. Apart from finalizing the project price with the contractor, you should also work out a payment schedule with your contractor and put that in writing. You should tie up your payments to specific goals of completion (For example ₹ 5 lakhs when the master bedroom work is completed). This is a better payment strategy than a calendar-based schedule in which case you may be paying for work that has not been completed yet. Also do make sure to include information about contingency plans such as what would happen if certain materials are unavailable which will change the project cost.
In addition to a reputed real estate consultant and an experienced contractor – an attorney who is experienced in handling real estate transactions can be a valuable addition to your team. If you are working with partners and private lenders all the more so. When you are flipping a property you have to remember that there are all sorts of legal problems that crop up during the moment in between buying a property to the moment you sell it. For example properties that are empty and uninhabited can throw up a number of legal issues such as kids sneaking into a house and getting hurt, labourers getting injured etc. Lawyers will help you assess the registration agreements and title deeds and ensure everything is fair and legal before you sign off and turn over your money to the other party.
Below are a few things that a qualified lawyer can help you with:
- Help you set up your holding company. (We had mentioned about the benefits of setting up a holding company to house your property investments in an earlier article. Read the whole article here.)
- Sort out any title issues.
- Review and revise the contractor and loan agreements.
- Inform you about the required permits and licenses.
- Advise you on all other legal requirements.
- Do ensure that the lawyer whom you are consulting for your real estate investment purposes has enough experience and background in asset protection and real estate law.
An Impenetrable Liability Shield
We have said this before and we will say it again. Before you even buy your first property as a real estate investor get your lawyer to set up your holding company which is a legal entity that will hold the properties that you have brought. The holding company is a good strategy to protect your personal assets from any liability issues that may arise. Without this safety shield any problems that can arise in the future (e.g. grievous injury or accidental deaths / murders etc. happening in your property) can cause serious legal problems for you and your family in the future. You could be personally sued for any such legal problems if you buy property under your own name. A properly created holding entity can protect you and your property investments and save you and your family from financial ruin by keeping your personal assets separate from your investment assets.
Your property lawyer can help you to structure your holding company based on your exact situation and planned asset acquisitions in the future. In some cases, multiple holding companies or a mix of legal entities may be required to protect each investment property (when you own multiple properties at any given time). This is because liabilities arising out of one property will not affect the others.
Common title-related problems include:
- Tax Liens ( Tax Outstanding)
- Creditor Liens
- Heir Issues (where one wants to sell but the others do not)
- Property restrictions
Your property lawyer will either straighten out these problems or advise you to walk away from the property. He can also take care of the title himself to protect you against issues that may arise after the sale is finalized. (for e.g. one creditor lien was mistakenly overlooked earlier)
A good CA can help you preserve your money instead of paying a truckload of tax! But saving tax is just the beginning of the ways that an experienced CA can help your goals of becoming a successful real estate flipper.
As your flipping empire grows, your CA can help you to:
- Determine the most profitable business structure
- Create a realistic flipping budget
- Monitor Project Costs
- Tie up with Lenders to help you with financing
- Keep track of project profitability
- Handle payroll of contractors
- Determine estimated tax requirements
Not All CAs Know Real Estate
As with lawyers, the idea is to tie up with a CA who is experienced in working with real estate investors.
Planning and Budgeting
A good CA with experience in real estate can help you to create a focused business plan and also create a realistic budget estimate to maximize your profits. If you have never created a business plan or do not have experience with budgeting before then you will have to get help from a CA. The tools that a CA will bring to the table are vital for success in your real estate investing career. Close ties with a CA will thus need to be established before you even buy your first property.
When you create a proper business plan you are forced to look at every angle of your real estate investment. This exercise can help you discover loopholes in your investment plan. A tight business plan can also help you secure financing from venture capitalists and other angel financiers. A solid business plan will help you to align your goals and expectations realistically, solidify your timelines and identify areas in which you will require professional expertise.
A proper budget outlay which will integrate with your business plan will also help you calculate how much property you can afford, schedule necessary and unnecessary repair & renovation work and anticipate renovation costs in advance. A thorough flipping budget should include the following points:
- Investment property purchase price and settlement costs
- Loan costs (such as application fees, points, and lifetime interest)
- Repair and renovation costs (based on estimates from experienced contractors)
- Interior decoration costs
- Selling costs (including real estate agent commission and other closing costs)
- Professional fees
- Property taxes
- Income tax provisions
Unexpected costs can make your investment returns go south. An experienced CA can help make sure that all potential expenses include contingency costs are properly covered in your budget.
As you can see from this article, if you want to be a successful real estate investor in the long run you must surround yourself with the 4 aforementioned professionals and maintain great relations with them. These professionals will convert your dreams into a reality and make sure that you are never short of advice and guidance when you need it most as you navigate the high stakes world of real estate investing!