There’s something incredible about real estate investing. No, it isn’t the stability of the sector or the high returns. It’s also not about the prospects. It’s about something you never thought about:
Geographic location has nothing to do with real estate investment opportunities.
Yes, you got it right – real estate investing is not about the location anymore. You don’t have to be there to actually see what you are buying and you definitely don’t have to sit on the lot to see the opportunities. Why is this happening and why virtual real estate investing is the next step in this business sector? – This article will try to answer these questions. Let’s start:
Many real estate investors follow the old real estate investment advice that was used for centuries: see the lot, see the building, see the possibilities, negotiate the price and make the purchase. This is roughly how every real estate investment is done. The investors work with old methods because they work. Yes, they do work, but technology brings new advantages even to the real estate investment sector. The internet is changing how real estate investments are made. There are new tools to help us better see the opportunities, assess the possibilities and plan our investments. The result? You don’t even have to see the properties in person – they can sit in your portfolio and make money – a lot of money.
Most of us will never feel comfortable about buying a property without seeing it first. We want to see it. We want to know what we are getting, preferably before making the payment. But what would it mean if we could eliminate all the buying criteria without even leaving the comfort of our homes? Yes, it’s possible, but there are a couple of things to mention:
* Virtual real estate investing is mainly focused on buying or selling vacant lots – vacant land is a very different type of real estate property – you can see virtually every feature of it, from anywhere on earth, measure it and do your investigations; unlike houses, duplexes or apartment buildings, vacant lots are visible, don’t hide any issues and are quite straightforward – there are no hidden leaks, structural issues or fussy neighbors.
* Buying and selling other types of properties virtually as feasible – yes, this is doable, but it’s definitely not for beginners; you will need to have a network of people and support channels that will offer you assistance; for instance, you will need a reliable building inspector, a competent property manager, an excellent general contractor and a lot of other people you can trust. They will be your eyes and ears, so they have to be trustworthy.
Luckily, there are a plethora of online tools to help you with this type of investment. There are also a lot of online support groups where you can get good real estate investment advice. Let’s go over some of the most interesting tools that can help you better understand and use virtual real estate investing:
We’ll start with the tool everyone knows about and uses. Zillow is not just an online property search tool. It’s a surprisingly good resource for properties from all over the country. It can be immensely helpful for the land evaluation phase and get you the contact information for local realtors who can help you. You’ll also get a picture, plans and any other type of additional information you may need. What’s more, Zillow offers you a list of comparable, similar properties which might be a better deal. Zillow is also free, so that makes it even more useful for all virtual real estate investors out there.
Google Earth should be one of the basic tools for every real estate investor. If you are not already using it, get it as soon as possible. It’s free, and it includes an immense amount of data for virtually every property you can imagine. You get topography information, the surroundings in 3D, street views and coordinates. You’ll be able to see the entire neighborhood, the entire city and everything around. These tools make Google Earth especially useful when you are looking at vacant lots – you’ll see the surroundings and what the neighbors are building.
AgentPro247 is an amazingly powerful tool because it makes researching properties so convenient. It uses its immense database, but it also correlates it with user-generated information. Although the information you get is not 100 percent correct, it will get you a lot of quick answers, all for a minimal cost. Some information has to be cross-checked from other sources, but AgentPro247 still remains an incredibly powerful tool and can be an excellent source of real estate investment advice.
Almost every county in the United States has a GIS system that they work with. The Geographic Information System, as it is officially known as, works as a database and includes multiple types of information about every property: drawings with limits and boundaries, locations, tax payment history, owner information and much more. These databases are gold mines for real estate investors. Understanding how to use them is critical if you want to be successful. Unfortunately, not all are easy to use, and the information provided might come at a cost. Some counties are very open to new users accessing the databases, while others are not. Either way, they do provide the most accurate data you can think of. It’s definitely worth the effort to check them out and see what new information you can find.
You’d be surprised to know the amount of information you can find by simply visiting the county website. You’ll be able to access the subpages for the County Treasurer (The Tax Collector), the Assessor and Zoning Department and the Recorder (The Register of Deeds). You can also get a lot of detailed information about owners, the history of the plots, and certain legal restrictions that may apply. Yes, the websites can be very difficult to navigate, but you’ll learn a lot from them.