Want to work with all cash buyers who scoop up three properties per month? Want to build a referral relationship that can last your entire career? If so, then you should be looking for real estate investors.
After all, investors tend to buy tons of homes, close quickly, and need far less hand-holding than, say, first-time buyers.
In order to help you get started working with investors, we spoke with Than Merrill and other investors who told us exactly what they look for in a real estate agent.
What Real Estate Investors Look for in Realtors
When I was buying my first of many, many houses, the real estate agent I worked with was a total nightmare.
I was 21 years old and looking for my first investment property. I did some searching online and came across a property I was interested in and booked a showing.
After a lackluster showing, she offered to take me out again to look at apartment buildings. Here’s what she said when I called to confirm the appointment:
“Oh, I don’t go outside of my neighborhood. I don’t walk up stairs and I don’t want to drive that far.” By “that far,” she meant 20 minutes outside of “her neighborhood.”
She eventually took me to a property that seemed to tick all the boxes.
The property was a small apartment building that needed some repairs and updating. I read somewhere to ask about the zoning and I was assured it was zoned for an apartment building with a laundry room, so I made an offer, and, after some negotiations, it was accepted. The offer was supposed to include the coin operated laundry facilities.
The coin operated laundry machines were removed because the real estate agent forgot to include them in the correct section of the contract.
To make matters worse, it wasn’t even zoned correctly for an apartment building, and because of that I had to hire an attorney, go to zoning court twice, and install a built-in fire alarm system, all of which cost me tens of thousands of dollars and more than a few sleepless nights.
If you’re an agent who wants to work with investors like me, then check out our top tips for getting investor clients below:
1. Some Experience Working With Investors
No investor has the time or patience to deal with a real estate agent who isn’t an investor themselves or doesn’t at least have experience dealing with investors. There’s just too much at stake for a novice real estate agent to make mistakes during the negotiation, contract, or due diligence phase.
That means experience is key, and if you don’t have any, you’re out of luck. For example, here are some questions an investor may ask you before they choose to work with you:
- Do you own any investment properties? If so, how long have you had them and what types of properties: multifamily, commercial, single-family homes, etc.
- Have you ever worked with investors on a deal? Did the deal close? How do you think it went?
- Approximately how many properties have you helped investors buy/sell?
- What do you specialize in? What’s your niche? For example, REOs, fix and flips, probate, etc.
- Where do you help investors buy and sell properties?
- What sets you apart from other real estate agents?
- Is this your full-time job? (You do not want a real estate agent who is too busy to answer time-sensitive requests or who can only show you properties two weekends a month.)
If you think we’re being harsh, here’s what our friend and superstar real estate investor Than Merrill looks for in a Realtor:
“The number one trait an investor should look for in the realtor they are working with is investor-specific experience. While a realtor might have years of practice working with buyers and sellers, if he or she hasn’t worked hand in hand with an investor, it is unlikely they will fully be able to meet what investors need. It is also a plus when a realtor has personal investing experience. This proves he or she has an advanced understanding of the market.”
How You Can Get Experience Working With Real Estate Investors Quickly & Easily
We get it. How can you get experience if no one will hire you without experience?
Well, there are a few things you can do.
Work With Newbie Investors
For starters, you could try working with newbie investors who are buying their first investment property. You may be surprised to find that many first-time investors know far less than you do. They will require more time and effort and will be less likely to close quickly than an experienced investor. You have to start somewhere though, right?
Go to Local Real Estate Investing Networking Events, Seminars, or Meetups
Try networking, attend events, go to seminars, and take as many investing classes as your schedule allows. The more you learn and the more people you meet, the more likely you will come across an investor who will give you that crucial first chance.
Shadow an Experienced Investor’s Agent
Another option is to shadow an experienced agent at your office. You can be a junior agent and learn the tricks of the trade from them. In return, you can schedule their showings, put up signs and lock boxes, etc.
Get Your CCIM & Distressed Property Expert Designations
Completing both the CCIM and Distressed Property Expert Designations will not only make you look more educated to investors, but will also help educate you so you can find your own deals.
CCIM is Certified Commercial Investment Member, which means you’re considered an expert in commercial real estate investing. CDPE is a Certified Distressed Property Expert; it will give you a competitive edge with investors buying distressed properties to fix up.
Try Wholesaling & Offering Deals to Local Investors
Though it’s not easy, wholesaling real estate is a great way to get started buying and selling distressed properties with very little risk. Once you find a property worth wholesaling, offer it to a local investor and see if you can get your foot in the door to working with them.
2. They Know How to Do More Than Just Show a Property
Any licensed real estate agent can find a property for sale, schedule the showing, and open the door. However, as an investor, you want much more than that. If you want to work with investors, you need to know the ins and outs of investing and be a valuable resource.
You should have access to off-market or pocket listings, and know about upcoming deals before they hit the market so you, the investor, can get an edge up on the competition.
They should also be able to find the property, evaluate the deal, know the comparables, and at least be familiar with what’s going on in the neighborhood.
Here’s Than again:
“Most realtors know how to find properties their clients want. However, investors should always work with realtors who are skilled in deal evaluation. There is more to finding an investment property than simply looking at the sale price. Realtors working with investors should understand criteria like after repair value and scope of work.”
3. They Are Savants When It Comes to Market Knowledge, Especially Rentals
Hiring a real estate agent with experience working with investors is so important, but you also need to understand the local real estate market if you want to get investor clients. You should know how long inventory is sitting on the market, average sales prices in the neighborhood, and what homes are renting for.
You should know about upcoming development projects, zoning ordinance changes, and amenities and attractions in the area. You should be familiar with the local schools, where the nearest shopping and dining areas are, and how public transportation and parking is in the neighborhood.
You should be the expert in the market you sell in. You should be up to date on real estate and economic policy news, housing statistics, you should enjoy browsing real estate blogs, use real estate apps, and read news sites to stay up to date so you can better inform your clients of what’s going on.
Don’t forget about the rental market. Knowing the stats about the rental market is a good way to get investors to work with you because they will depend on your expertise when pricing and renting out their investment property.
You can learn more about the rental market by taking a class from your local real estate association, brokerage, or following a leasing agent. Most will be happy with the company!
4. They’ve Learned How to Be Comfortable & Confident Negotiating
A real estate agent should have strong negotiating skills regardless of what types of clients they work with, but it’s especially important with investors. An investor isn’t going to live in the property; it’s strictly a business and a source of income, so they want to get the best possible deal.
You should be able to assist in getting the best possible deal on buying a property or selling a property for the highest price in the fastest amount of time. Make sure you aren’t too shy to push through tough negotiations. You may need to send multiple offers on different properties—some may be “low ball” offers and you have to be okay with that. It takes a thick skin to work on investment properties.
Keep in mind, everyone has different styles of negotiating, and sometimes quiet people end up being the best negotiators.
5. They’re Not Sleazeballs
All of the above criteria, including experience and deal negotiation skills, are great, but you also need to have integrity. You need to be transparent, do the right thing when no one is watching, and have my best interests at heart above and beyond your fiduciary duty.
More Advice From Experienced Realtors & Investors
“Generally, you find investors by trying to find the ultimate owners of property either by using public records or other service. Also, you can try local investment clubs or exchangors clubs.”
– Adam P. Von Romer, CCIM, Commercial Sales Manager, CENTURY 21 Kores Corp
“First, learn the ins and outs of investing. Then market your services to existing investors—those who already own investment property.”
– Jeff Morr, Co-founder, Rubin + Morr Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Chairman, Miami Master Brokers Forum
“I attribute my success to being a resource to my investor clients. I can provide them with the contact information of unaffiliated attorneys, lenders, title companies, contractors, inspectors, appraisers, property management companies, etc. I’ve worked hard at establishing professional relationships that could benefit my clients because I can get a question answered with a quick text or phone call.”
– Aisha Thomas, Principal, The Thomas Agency, LLC
The 30,000-Foot View for Realtors
Real estate investors want to work with real estate agents who have experience working with other investors, do more than just show them the property, and have market knowledge. They also want real estate agents who are confident negotiators and who possess integrity.