Oh, yes, I want to buy a foreclosure at 50% of Market Value, change the locks and put a real estate sign in the front yard and make a ton of money in 30 days. Oh yeah, I don't want to put a penny of my money into the deal either!
The reality of foreclosure investing is far different than what many people have seen either through infomercials or books that have been written. We don't sell books, so I'll tell you what I'm aware of in the foreclosure investment field. First, everyone I know who is an active investor works an awful lot more than people working 9-5 jobs. Second, serious players either have a significant amount of money of their own or have an investor backing them up. Third, houses that are going to sale almost always need a lot of work to bring them to Market Value. Fourth, finding a solid property to purchase isn't a matter of picking what you want, it's a matter of finding something that works economically, keeping track of it, finding out all you can about it, then beating out all the other investors who are interested in it. Sound discouraging? People treating this business seriously invest a lot of time and energy into finding and following properties.
Sure, the key is to know your strengths and weaknesses.
The first example is the major problem most beginning investors will have. What is the Market Value of a property you are interested in? Experienced investors will usually all have a property valued close to the same amount (3% variance). They will use local Multiple Listing Service comparable sales, Title Company comps and experience to come to that value. If you are not fully aware of what a property will sell for on the open market, you cannot do anything with a property. All decisions regarding a property are based on the price it will receive, Know The Value!!
The second issue of importance is the law. If you know of a property where money can be made, you do not want to run into legal issues because you structured a deal that is illegal in your state. Yes, states have laws regarding what you can and cannot do with owners who are defaulting on their home loans. Do your research, find out whether your state uses Mortgages or Trust Deeds and the legal timeframes and implications of each.
The third issue is money. It certainly helps if you've got a good amount to back your purchases, but if you don't, it is not impossible to do deals. You do need enough to be able to find properties, keep track of properties and cover on-going office type expenses. I was once told, "Money should never stop you from doing a deal". It's true. If you have a deal, someone to invest in it is easy to find. If investors don't want to invest, it's not a deal.
The fourth issue is knowledge. Federal tax liens, partial interests, leased land, property information wrong, unpaid property taxes and wrong common descriptions are all things that have hurt investors. If you are not aware as to how to check for these things, you shouldn't be investing in foreclosures. The things that will make a deal head south are the things that are not obvious.
If you don't have a strong grasp of market values in your area, aren't sure about your state's legal requirements, don't have significant money to invest and don't know how to follow up on real property information, you need to spend some time learning the things you will need. Read, make contacts and talk to people involved in the business. They are easy to find, they will be at local Trustee or Sheriff's Sales. However, if you have a good knowledge of the requirements and think you can learn as you go along, you can probably pursue this market.
Proceed to Foreclosure Investing 111.