The In’s and Out’s of Due Diligence

The Importance of Due Diligence

When investing in real estate proper due diligence is one of the most important keys to success. There are many issues that can arrive after closing that could have been prevented with a little homework. Thankfully, many professional underwriters and lending companies will aide in this endeavor once a contract has been accepted.

The due diligence period generally refers to a set amount of time one has to investigate the aspects of the property after a contract is accepted and before closing. During this time the buyer may back out of the contract for any reason without repercussions. Generally, the length of time is pre-determined by either the state (usually 10-15+ days) or agreed upon in the contract and begins when escrow is opened.

Every lender and title company will have a set list of what they require to complete what they believe is proper due diligence on an investment. This not only protects them but you as the buyer. However, not everyone’s requirements and parameters are the same. A private individual lender may require very little due diligence to be done while the bank will have you jumping through hoops. Knowing what to look for and expect is crucial in this business regardless of if you are doing it all yourself or leveraging your team.

Buyer’s Due Diligence

  • Physical Inspection – plumbing, structural, roof, HVAC, pests, septic, well, etc.
  • Crime (including sex offender) statistics
  • Upcoming building plans in the neighboring area / Zoning
  • Talk with neighbors to get the inside scoop on the area
  • Median Household Income
  • Surrounding Rental Rates
  • School Rankings
  • Repair Quotes (if applicable)
  • Estimate your Debt to Service Coverage Ratio – DSCR (if applicable)
  • Review of Seller’s Disclosures
  • Property Rights
  • Submit all requested documents to lender
  • Review all legal documents for accuracy and understanding

Lender’s Due Diligence

  • Review of all documents for accuracy and suitability
  • Contract / Assignment – review terms and make sure the seller has the right to sell property etc.
  • Deed or Proof of Ownership – review chain of custody
  • Interior and Exterior Photos
  • Scope of Work / Lease Agreements
  • Bank Statements
  • Background Checks – this can include criminal, credit, tax liens, death index, bankruptcy, lawsuit history, etc.
  • Insurance Quotes – verify amount, terms, address, type (hazard, flood, windstorm, vacant, occupied, builder’s risk, commercial etc), and insured names
  • Flood Determination – what flood zone does the property lie in
  • Corporate Docs (if applicable)
    • Certificate of Formation
    • Certificate of Filing
    • Operating Agreements
    • Amendments
    • Resolutions
    • FEIN or W-9
  • Entity Search – verify the entity is active and managing members
  • Driver’s License (state ID’s) – citizenship
  • Social Security or W-9
  • Contact Information from borrower
  • Appraisal / Survey – Value of property and boundary lines
  • Permits
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) – restrictions and verify dues are up to date
  • Verify Taxes are Current and that there are no liens
  • Review of Title Commitment
    • Legal Descriptions
    • Policy Amount
    • Encroachments / Easements
    • Liens – Verify Clear Title / Judgements
  • Review of Loan Package and Closing Disclosure

Commercial

  • Phase 1 Environmental (if applicable) and Phase 2 if needed
  • Proposed Plat Changes
  • Drawings / Spec’s
  • Executive Summary
  • Rent Roll
  • Feasibility Study
  • Pro-Forma P&L

Ready to Invest?

This list is in no way meant to be used as a complete guide to due diligence, but it aims to serve as a starting point. There are many things to consider when investing in real estate and are often driven by one’s school of thought. Asset based lenders vs. credit-based lenders will have varying requirements, as well those investors who invest in fix-n-flip, rental, and commercial loans. The bottom line here is to do your homework throughout the entire process. Make sure you ask lots of questions and that you understand the legal documentation you are signing. Consult with your lawyer or financial advisor if you have questions or are still unsure. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if you find an issue during the due diligence period that the seller refuses to fix or can’t. Better to lose a small sum of cash than to get in over your head. Be sure to partner up with a lender that you can trust. Now that you are armed with this knowledge, get out there and find some deals!

Calculating DSCR

If you are a part of the real estate investing world, then you probably have heard that properly calculating a property’s debt to service coverage ratio (DSCR) is crucial. If you are newer to investing, you may wonder why it is so important. Lenders use this equation to determine if a rental investment property’s cash flow is enough to cover their borrower’s loan payment in addition to all re-occurring expenses. As a borrower, the DSCR can help you gauge the profitability of your project saving you time and money.

The formula is quite simple, but first you must learn another acronym, PITIA. PITIA stands for property, interest, taxes, insurance, and association (HOA). These are the most common re-occurring expenses taken into consideration by a lender.

To calculate the DSCR take your annual rental income (numerator) and divide it by the property’s annual PITIA (denominator). The result is your DSCR. Anything below a 1 means you have negative cash flow and would be an unlikely candidate for approval.

Be sure to check with your lender regarding their DSCR requirements. As a rule of thumb, shoot for a DSCR above a 1.25. Remember, the higher the number the better chance for profitability. You can also find a DSCR calculator online at https://ils.cash/resources/.

How To Start Investing in Real Estate

Thinking of investing in real estate, but not sure how to begin? First and foremost, know that you are not alone. Real estate investing is a great way to build your wealth, but when you have little to no experience it can seem a bit overwhelming.

Do Your Research.

We have all heard the old adage that knowledge is power, and it still holds true today. One of the best pieces of advice one can be given is to do their research. In this day and age, there is no excuse not to. So much information is available to us instantaneously. Begin by learning popular real estate terms. So often I get asked the definition for “ARV” and “deed of trust”. Arming yourself with the basic understanding of the lingo is imperative.

Time is of the essence, and most people feel they do not have enough of it. However, if you are serious about real estate investing you will find time. Listen to a podcast, eBook, or real estate talk radio while you are driving in the car, working out, or as you drift off to sleep. This is a great way to get your head in the game and learn while doing it.

Grow Your Network.

Your network equals your net worth! Surround yourself with like-minded people. There are so many avenues one can pursue with real estate investing, but one thing is certain, you will need trustworthy, competent people at your side. Do your research and build your network. Most large cities have Real Estate Investment Association groups (REIA’s) which are great places to learn the industry while making contacts. Many teach classes on real estate investing, tell both success and horror stories, and introduce you to reputable industry professionals and investments. Lenders, title companies, contractors, CPA’s, real estate attorneys and real estate agents are all worth getting to know. Leverage the experience and the field of expertise of those around you.  These people will help you grow your business/investments setting you up for success.

Find a Mentor.

An ideal mentor is an experience investor with time and knowledge to share. They can help you stay on track, keep focused, and guide you in the right direction. Be sure to ask lots of questions. Find out what your mentor did to become successful and mimic it.

Assess Yourself.

Next, you will need to do an honest assessment of yourself and your situation. You do not always need a lot of cash on hand or a perfect credit score to take advantage real estate investments. However, knowing your limitations will help set you up for success. 

Other questions you will need to ask yourself is how much time you have to dedicate to your real estate investments. If you have a full-time job, volunteer three times a week, and must keep your schedule as well as your kids, you might be better suited for a passive investment. One that does not take a lot of your time. Therefore, a fix and flip project may not be best suited to your situation. Semi-passive to passive options like real estate notes might work best for you.

Decide on the amount of risk you are willing to take. Do you have extensive knowledge in the industry and a pool of cash for investments that would allow you to go after those high-risk high-reward opportunities? If so, commercial deals might be your niche. Are you close to retirement and principal preservation is imperative, consider funds or REIT’s? Do you need passive monthly income? Consider a rental property. There are both aggressive and conservative options out there and knowing which category you are comfortable in will help guide you to the right investment.

Additional items to consider are the type of funds you are looking to invest; cash or structured funds (IRA’s, 401K, etc). If you, will you be investing as an entity or as an individual and what the taxing consequences might be in direct correlation to your situation (seek the advice of a CPA). Look at state laws and how they might affect your investment. These questions can be deciding factors.

Find a Trustworthy Lender.

Most new investors have limited cash resources. If that is your situation, consider finding a lender who can help you. There are private lenders, banks, hard money lenders and others out there who can help you get started. Even seasoned investors often use outside financial resources to help them grow their investment portfolio. Be sure to do your research and ensure your lender is trustworthy and deserves your business. Ask for referrals or ask your real estate networking group if you are having trouble finding good lenders.

Make Your Dream a Reality.

Once you have done these things go out and find your investment, do the leg work, and make your dream a reality. Remember to be realistic in your expectations and set goals. Do not overextend yourself either mentally or financially. Keep your mentor close, leverage the experience of industry professionals and never forget that your knowledge and network are the two most important things in your arsenal. This is how you will set yourself up for success.

New Year’s Resolutions for Real Estate Investors

A new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and celebrate your achievements, identify areas with room for improvement, learn from the setbacks and move forward. It’s also the perfect time to set new goals and come up with attainable resolutions both personally and professionally. For real estate investors looking to grow their business and achieve financial success, setting new, tangible goals is imperative.

For many of us, 2020 seemed to drag on due to COVID scares and shut-downs. It came with many speed-bumps, hurdles and other uncertainties and discouraging events. Ready for 2021? We all are. Here are some useful resolution ideas to help this year be a more lucrative one for your real estate investment business.

  • Work to Increase Your Return on Investment

For new real estate investors, this means staying focused on finding opportunities with low risk and high profit. Looking at your expenditures, monthly and yearly costs to see if there are areas you could save money is critical for both seasoned and newer investors. One easy step is to ensure you aren’t overpaying for utility services. Another is to review rental rates on a regular basis to be sure you are charging rent consistent with the local market. Smart investors will also learn how to efficiently schedule contractors, pre-apply for permits, pre-order supplies and aggressively price and market their properties for quick sale. Each day saved equates to less money towed to your lender in interest. Evaluating the cash coming in and the amount of cash going out regularly will help you identify ways to increase your return on investment.

  • Mix Up Your Strategy to Find New Properties

Using MLS may be easy, but it won’t usually allow you to get ahead of your competition in finding hot investment properties first. Consider hitting the streets in your car to find for sale by owner signs this year. Focus on networking and growing your contact list. Be sure to include realtors, investors and contractors. A good contact list may help you learn about new foreclosures and opportunities before anyone else.

  • Improve Your Time Management

Improving your time management can help you both personally and professionally. Consider waking up an hour earlier each day and setting that time aside to answer emails and planning your daily list of items to get done that day. Stay focused on accomplishing that to-do list before you get sidetracked. You may find that you get more done in the day if you plan it out carefully. For those that simply don’t time for the more mundane tasks of answering emails and making phone calls, think about hiring a virtual assistant to help free up your time for tasks that could be used for making investment deals.

  • Improve Your Marketing Strategies

Thoroughly planned marketing improvements will generally lead to a more profitable investment business. If you are not on the social media bandwagon, hop on in 2021! If you already have a social media presence, set a goal of increasing your followers by 10% this year. Streamlining your websites, direct mail and mass email can all also help you grow your business.

  • Refine Your Investment Portfolio

Last year you may have found your niche. Now is the time evaluate your portfolio and identify properties that just don’t fit anymore. Or maybe you’d like to diversify your portfolio and invest in single family notes. Look over your portfolio and plan how you want your portfolio to grow this year. Decide which markets you’d like to explore. Carefully planning your strategy and talking with your investment advisor will help you refine your portfolio successfully.

  • Learn Something New

Personal growth can be achieved through learning something new and expanding your knowledge. Interested in learning more about commercial real estate investing? Join an in-person or online group or attend webinars. Take a course or read a book about something you’ve always wanted to learn. The possibilities are endless. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the process as well.

  • Improve Yourself

Need to drop 10 or 20 pounds? Want to exercise more? Stay committed by joining a health club, or sharing the goal with a friend or fitness group. Stay more organized this year by using a planner, app on your phone or cleaning out your office. Communicating proactively and more often is also a great resolution that will also help you as an investor. Improving yourself can reduce your stress level and lead to a more positive 2021. Decide what areas of your life are bringing you down or need the most improvement and focus on that. You will thank yourself later.

Most resolutions are easy to set and harder to keep. The key is making small improvements each day. Whatever went wrong in 2020, learn from that and move on. Don’t let the past hold you down. You have a cleaner slate and a fresh opportunity to build a better real estate investment business and ultimately a better you. Ready to dominate in 2021?

Having a great lender to partner with you in 2021 is essential. Let Investor Loan Source help you by walking you through our loan products. Contact us at 409-735-6267 if you have questions or email our loan specialists at info@ils.cash for more information.

Hard Money Loans Made Easy

There are many financing options for real estate investors available today. One of the most popular options has become the hard money loan. A hard money loan is a loan collateralized by a hard asset (in most cases this would be real estate). One of the biggest differences between a hard money loan and a conventional loan is that hard money lenders use the value of the property versus the borrower’s creditworthiness to determine the loan.

Hard money loans tend to have terms of 12 months, but some can be extended to as long as two to five years. This works in favor of investors who plan to purchase a home in need of repairs, rehab it and sell it quickly for a profit

Advantages of Hard Money Loans

One of the biggest advantages is that there are less restrictions with hard money loans when comparing them to traditional loans. Lenders rely less on a borrower’s credit score and more on the value of the property itself. This allows borrowers with a less then perfect credit score to obtain a loan.

Another key benefit of hard money loans is that they can be acquired quickly. Loans from banks and traditional lenders often take up to 60 days to issue, while hard money loans can often fund in a week. This is especially important if investors hope to acquire properties with competing bids. Time is money in real estate and time is on your side with hard money.

Hard money loans also provide tremendous leverage for fix and flip and buy and hold investors. The investor can enter a project without putting their own money at risk and remaining liquidity. This is a huge reason real estate investors seek out hard money lenders in Florida.

An Easy Decision for Investors

Although many investors with imperfect credit scores find hard money loans easier to qualify for, because of the higher risk involved these loans often come with higher interest rates. Despite this, they are an integral part of the the real estate investing process and can be utilized when a traditional loan doesn’t make sense or is too difficult to get.

Hard money loans aren’t just for flippers. At Investor Loan Source, we offer loans for rental properties, as well as commercial investment projects. Be sure to ask one of our loan specialists about our exclusive wrapable loans, commercial and one-time close fix and rent options. We make hard money easy – the application process is fast and simple. Contact us at 833-457-2274, email us or apply online today.