Sourcing properties for real estate investing can feel overwhelming for even the most seasoned of investors. Luckily, real estate agents can be great partners who help remove this overwhelm by constantly sourcing suitable properties for your business. But how do you know if a real estate agent is going to deliver? What are the right questions to ask a real estate agent when buying an investment property that will help determine if they’re a good fit?
The good news is yes, you can find real estate agents that help you find . To find the right real estate agent for your business, be sure to ask them what methods they use to help investors looking for properties. A good agent will know this is an entirely different strategy than someone who is looking to buy a home of their own. You should also be sure that they have a way to find off-market properties to help reduce your competition. Also, be sure that you ask whether they’re also investors themselves. Having an agent who is also an investor could cause some ethical concerns about how they do business.
But we’ll dive into all that in a minute. Let’s first discuss whether you need a real estate agent and what questions to ask that will help determine if they’ll be a good fit for you. We’ll also cover what to do once you find a great agent and how to make sure you’re their go-to person when a great deal comes along.
DO YOU NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT TO INVEST IN PROPERTIES?
First, let’s cover the question that’s probably the biggest in your mind: do you even need a real estate agent to help your business?
The answer is: it depends on what the agent can do for you. If your agent only looks at the MLS and sends you properties off of that, then no, you don’t need one. It’s pretty easy to find on-market properties on sites like Zillow, or you can find other ways to access the MLS.
However, if you’re able to connect with an agent who understands real estate investing and can show you off-market properties, then they could be the ace up your sleeve that makes all the difference.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR POTENTIAL REAL ESTATE AGENT
How will you know if you’ve found an agent that can get you results? There are a few questions that can help weed out the ones who will waste your time:
Does this agent have experience working with investors? Buying a home to live in requires a vastly different strategy than buying a home for investment reasons. You’ll need a real estate agent who understands the difference and can walk you through how they do it. You’re not asking for trade secrets here, but you want to be sure they actually know how to help you and aren’t just trying to get your business.
Can they locate off-market properties? If so, how? Again, you don’t need an agent to pull homes off the MLS; you can do that independently. By finding a real estate agent who knows where to find off-market properties, you’ll be able to reduce the number of competitors you’re up against. Be sure to ask them more than yes or no questions here, as you want to vet their skills so that you don’t waste your time. Remember, you’re not asking for their entire business plan, but you do want some reassurance that they’re experienced with the nuances that come along with real estate investors.
Are they themselves a real estate investor? Some agents are also investors, so be sure that you’re not in competition with your agent as that could create some ethical issues. Don’t automatically disqualify them if they are investors, though! Some agents will only invest in rental properties or vacation homes and might leave valuable fix & flips on the table. Check to see if their investment strategy compliments yours or puts them in direct competition.
HOW TO GET REAL ESTATE AGENTS TO SEND YOU LEADS
Working with an agent to locate off-market properties may take longer than you initially anticipate, as you’re asking them to do a little more legwork than they would for other clients.
To sweeten the deal, your goal should be to position yourself not only as their client but also as a resource. You want to be their go-to person when they come across a lead that won’t be able to get their home up to par for a traditional sale but is still eager to sell.
Consider the costs that need to go into fixing up a home to sell. Many owners have neither the time, money, or inclination to make that happen, so they end up in a state of frustration and indecision. That’s where you swoop in to save the day.
As a perfect example of this: I had one property fall into my lap that was in disrepair due to the old age of the homeowner. He, unfortunately, could no longer maintain the property and needed to go into assisted living, but his family had no clue what to do about the home.
My agent immediately sent me their information and let me know the situation. I reached out to give them a cash offer for the home. Not only did they no longer have to worry about the additional costs to get the house market-ready, but they now had access to cash which could help pay for the assisted living the owner desperately needed.
My point is: position yourself as a solution who offers not only speed but convenience. Educate your agent about how you can help them close deals on properties that might’ve slipped through the cracks, and then follow through when they call.
One more thing: don’t get on their hot sheets. If you’ve never heard of this, hot sheets are emails that are auto-sent when your agent adds a new property to their feed. These emails are blasted to their entire list and most likely will not be the types of properties you’re looking for. Be sure you’re specific: you want off-market homes that may be in some state of disrepair OR buyers who are looking for a quick, hands-off sale.
Working with agents can be hit or miss if you don’t do your homework. As a real estate investor, it’s your job to find the right partner for your business and educate them as to how you can be an asset for their business.
Remember to ask the right questions, ensuring that you’re working with someone who understands the difference between investors and home buyers. Once you find them, make sure they see you as a valuable resource that offers both speed and convenience for overly-stressed homeowners who would love to get rid of their property ASAP. Then constantly show up and prove how valuable you can be. By doing this, you’ll become their go-to person who helps them close deals quickly and creates more profit for everyone involved.