HardMoneyHome.com Private Lending Blog -

Real estate investing is a big undertaking, and while many projects can ultimately make a project a great flip, there are just as many that will make it a flop. This is one of the biggest considerations when trying to decide on which improvements can actually make an investment sell faster and which ones can cause it to be a flop.

Opening Walls

This is something that a lot of flippers like to do and it is one that can sometimes add value but not always. When opening up walls, think about how much it will really add to that “open concept” space and how much it costs. If the wall is load bearing, then it may not be worth the thousands of dollars it will cost to do this type of project.

High End Kitchen Appliances

These are overkill in most homes, unless you are selling a really high-end luxury flip. The average buyer just wants something that is clean, new and nice when buying a flip. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top.

Upgraded Kitchens

Kitchens sell homes, so adding new countertops and a nice backsplash can be a great upgrade. However, you want to make sure that you are following the trends in your neighborhood before you update your kitchen. Take a look at other flips that sold quickly to make sure you are choosing a style that your type of buyer will enjoy. Cabinets used to be a must for kitchen remodels, but there are many ways to refinish cabinets that are still in good shape, but not necessarily the best color—for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets.


Updating the flooring can be a big expense but it is one that almost always pays off. This is a cost-effective way to update a home if you are smart about it. Old carpet should usually go. If you have historic hardwood floors in the home you can try to salvage and refinish them, especially if you are flipping in a neighborhood where historic features hold value. In many homes, beautiful, yet durable vinyl plank is a good option for homes that need new flooring, but it depends on the feel for your area.


For some reason, a lot of buyers simply can’t look beyond paint color. The good news is, paint is an easy upgrade for any flipper and one that really does make a difference. Choose a light and bright, neutral paint color. Right now grey and greiges are very popular and look good in a number of homes. Don’t get too bold with the paint colors, but something clean and nice will really go a long way in upgrading the look of your home and the first impression that buyers have.

Keep these tips in mind before you choose which upgrades you make to your property so you can make the most of your fix and flip.

Flipping and fixing houses can be a great way for any person to make money. It can also be a great way for someone to lose money if they aren’t careful. This is why budgeting is so important when you are planning on fixing and flipping homes. As every home flipper knows, every cent counts with these types of projects, and you need to know where your money is going and whether or not you are staying on track with your expenses. However, it can sometimes be more complicated than it seems to keep track of these expenses.

The good news is, the right tools and apps can help you budget and stay on track with your expenses.

Here are a few programs to consider.

Expensify- This is a really popular app for flippers and real estate investors and it was designed for those who are on-the-go and spending money while they do. You can actually take photos of receipts and track your time spent and how far you drive and create printable reports that you or other people can share with the team. This is great for those who are flipping on a team.

Yodlee- This app is filled with tools that will help make sure you know where all of your money is going. There are even tools that can help you get ready for your next flip or investment. Simply put, it is like your own personal accountant, right from your phone. It is great for people who have lots of fix and flips in the works.

Budget Boss- This is a great app if you are spending a lot on your fix and flips. It will help predict your spending over time and it will help you make a budget (and stick to that budget) so you can stay on track with your expenses.

OneReceipt- As the name suggests, this app is designed to keep track of everything for IRS purposes and puts it into one convenient, easy, spreadsheet or report. Trust us, you will love this program when tax season rolls around.

The more organized you are when managing a fix and flip property, the better off you will be. Managing your expenses along every step of the way will help you make sure that you aren’t overspending and you are staying within the budget you set for yourself. So, in the end, you can make sure you are getting the most profit possible once you sell.

The HardMoneyHome.com Volunteerism and Entrepreneurship Scholarship winner for Spring 2019 has been chosen. Diana El-Koubysi, who is attending Kansas State University, will receive a $1,000 scholarship for her volunteer experience and passion for entrepreneurship.

Diana first started volunteering in middle school through her district’s volunteer program.  She continued to volunteer throughout high school as well.  In college, she was able to volunteer for organizations that she was especially passionate about.  One of these organizations is Girls on the Run.  She spends 4 hours each week helping the girls build confidence, have healthy friendships and deal with their emotions.  Diana loves getting to know the girls and watching them during their end-of-the-year 5k run.  She is also part of the Society of Women in Engineering, where she is a mentor for girls and teaches them what it’s like to be a woman in STEM.  She has also recently become part of an organization called School of Hope, where she spends an hour a week helping a child become a better reader.  Diana has learned through volunteering that “people can have really different lives, even though they’re from the same vicinity.”  She’s also learned a lot about herself and her passions.  Diana now knows that she loves to help kids achieve their goals and become successful.

Diana’s father owns his own business and while growing up Diana always thought it was very commendable that he is an entrepreneur.  This is where her passion for entrepreneurship started.  Diana started a t-shirt business with her teacher in high school and loved learning about starting a new business and experiencing the process.  Her school was so impressed that they put it into a curriculum and started a new class so other kids can take the class and learn what it’s like to run a successful business.  Diana wants to most likely start a non-profit or her own business after college graduation.  She is majoring in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Business.  Congratulations, Diana!

See Diana’s full scholarship submission video below.

A real estate partnership can be a great way for any investor to reach their investment goals and to make a great deal of money on their investments. However, while real estate partnerships can be a great benefit—and bring you experience, time, money and skills to your upcoming deal, the wrong real estate partner can be a complete disaster.

The wrong partner can be more detrimental than having no partner at all, so here are some tips on how to avoid toxic real estate partners and make sure you aren’t joining forces with the wrong real estate partner. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you start looking for the right real estate partner.

  • Don’t Only Consider Money- There are many people who think that money is the only criteria for a real estate partnership. While money is important—there are much more important criteria in a great real estate partner. Skills, experience and knowledge are essential for a great partnership. After all, even if you have all of the money you need, if you are both inexperienced—it can be a total disaster.
  • Be Careful When Partnering With Friends and Family- There are lots of people who decide to partner with friends and family because they feel comfortable partnering with someone who they have a good personal relationship with. However, a strong personal relationship does not necessarily equate a good professional relationship—particularly if those friends and family don’t have any business experience.
  • ..But Also Be Careful With Strangers- Thanks to crowdfunding sites and platforms, more people than other are partnering with complete strangers when entering into new investment opportunities. These crowdfunding companies can vet potential partners to add an extra layer of safety, and you don’t have to worry about your personal relationships getting in the way of your professional endeavors. However, if you don’t know about the other person’s strengths ad weaknesses—you can still be setting yourself up for failure. Take caution when jumping into a relationship with a complete stranger as well.
  • Look Into A Partner’s History- Make sure to look into your potential partner’s history and look for red flags, credit issues and other risks. Past performance is a great indicator of future endeavors so you should always be on the lookout for a potential partner that has strong business practices and a solid financial background.

Remember, when buying an investment property, you should always do your due diligence. You need to take the same caution when vetting and choosing a real estate partner that you would when vetting and choosing a real estate property. Do your research, as a poor or mismatched partnership can lead to arguments, legal issues and more.

If you are interested in fixing and flipping a property, then one of the best ways to get a great property at an even greater price is to bid on a home through a real estate auction. There are so many investors who are able to turn a huge profit because they are able to get properties at a low price through auctions.

However, bidding on a property through a real estate auction is very different than buying a property any other way. This is why it is so important to understand the best way to bid on homes through real estate auctions. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Don’t Forget to Do Your Homework- Before you go to an auction, make sure that you do your due diligence. Many auctions are on foreclosure properties, which is why you need to make sure that you review the title before you head to auction. Some sellers will only offer a quit claim deed on transfer—which means they are only giving away their rights to the property and there is no protection from other claims to ownership or liens.
  • Get Your Funding Lined Up First- Remember, a majority of real estate auctions only accept cash, so you need to make sure that you have the money ready before you get to the auction and are clear about what the rules are. The good news is, sometimes private mortgage loans, transactional funding and hard money loans are accepted, just make sure that the money is ready to go.
  • Know the Auction’s Website Rules- Every auction platform is unique and will have different rules so you can make sure that you are participating. Some platforms require you to be an authorized real estate broker—others limit who is able to bid, whether they are owner occupant buyers or investors.
  • Be In It to Win It Until the End- Make sure that you stay in the auction until the clock actually runs out. A lot of action happens in the last few seconds of the auction. You never know what can happen in the final seconds, so whether you think you are about to secure the deal or someone else is, you should stay in the auction in case you get outbid or someone drops out.

Don’t forget, while real estate auctions can be a great way to bid on a property—there can be a lot of risk with bidding on properties through auctions. Keep these tips in mind and make sure to do your research ahead of time so that you can make a smart investment at any upcoming auction.

If you are a real estate investor on the prowl for a new investment opportunity, then the steps of your local courthouse may just be the best place for you to start your search for your next property. However, buying foreclosures at auction can be a rather complex process, and there are a few things that bidders should know before they arrive to make sure they are making a smart investment and are fully equipped to handle the process.

Understanding What A Courthouse Auction Property Really Is

While many people want to go bid on courthouse auction properties, many of these people don’t actually understand what these properties are and what their ownership status really is. Right until the final bid is accepted, the house that is being auctioned off is actually property of the homeowner.

This is not a traditional foreclosure, where the bank owns the property—it is more of a pre-foreclosure.

The most important thing to remember with this very big difference, is that with auction properties, the owner can still reinstate their loan.  Reinstatement, or bringing the loan to current status is typically allowed in most states right up until the initial courthouse auction. There are even some states that have a longer “right of redemption period” for homeowners that are in this situation.  In short, don’t think that the auction is necessarily a done deal as the homeowner still has the opportunity to catch up on their payments.

Another thing to remember is that the homeowner can actually sell the property, right up until the final bid on the property has been accepted. This is why so many people talk about how wild and unpredictable courthouse auctions can be.

Tips on How to Get in on A Courthouse Auction

If you want to try your luck at a courthouse auction and see if you can get a great deal on a great investment, here are some tips on finding out about upcoming auctions.

  • Courthouse auctions are required to be advertised. Typically, this means listings being published in a local newspaper about three weeks before the scheduled auction date.
  • Remember, that many auction sales are postponed, cancelled or rescheduled, so you will need to monitor these auctions to stay on tops of them.
  • You can look in third party websites for more information on auctions, or you can visit the courthouse to see the posting of upcoming properties.

Before you go and start making bids, you can consider going directly to the owner and making them a “pre-foreclosure” offer. This is great for the seller as it can help them avoid having a foreclosure on their record, while still letting them retain some equity. It is also great for you as the buyer because you don’t have to bid against the competition and you get to inspect the property.

If this isn’t an option, then you will need to make sure that you assess the financials of the property and the title.  Have your financing lined up before hand as well. At some auctions you will just need to pay a deposit if you win—others you will need to have the full amount of the property available.

There are so many different types of properties that real estate investors can look into—whether they want to flip them, rent them out or anything in between.  Of course, the number one strategy for anyone looking to invest in real estate is to try to find the best deal possible and for many people that means buying investment properties that are for sale by owner.

Sellers that don’t list their property with an agent (whether they can’t or they won’t) are often the ideal seller for potential investment properties.  A for sale by owner (FSBO) seller is a very unique type of seller. This is because when a homeowner decides to sell their property on their own, there is typically a reason behind their actions—most people don’t just sell their home themselves “just because.”

Typically, these reasons are:

  • They need to sell the property fast
  • They are in a distressed situation and want to sell the property on their own and without realtor influence
  • They are highly motivated to sell and can’t afford to pay the real estate commission
  • The property needs repairs or significant work
  • The property can’t compete with other homes in the same price range and needs to be listed without real estate commissions to compensate

These are not only all reasons why people tend to sell for sale by owner, but these are all also great signs for real estate investors who want to get a good deal.  In fact, this sounds like the perfect type of seller for the average real estate buyer.

Looking for FCBO properties isn’t always the simplest of paths, but there are a few different ways that you can find some for sale by owner homes and see if these leads turn into investments. Here are a few suggestions for finding these leads such as driving our target neighborhood and looking for “For Sale By Owner” signs. You can also drive by your target neighborhood and cold calling or knocking to see if people are interested in buying.

Scanning Craigslist and other area For Sale By Owner sites are also great options, and there are other new wholesaler sites available as well that can help you find leads on for a sale by owner properties.

Once you find a potential lead, there are a few things that you can do in order to make sure this is a good deal.

  • Check the comps to determine if the price is fair.
  • Think about how long the home has been for sale—if it has been for sale for a while, why do you think that is?
  • Determine whether or not the home was listed with an agent before the seller took it over and find out how long it was agent listed.
  • Try to find out why the seller thinks the house hasn’t sold if it has been on the market for a year or longer.
  • Dig to find out why the seller is listing it themselves.

The more information you are able to get on a potential for sale by owner home, the better off you will be—as you can use this information to make sure you are getting the best deal possible on your upcoming investment.

So, you want to become a real estate investor? Perhaps you have seen others make a career out of real estate investing, you’ve been inspired by your favorite TV show, or you’ve just been looking for a new way to make more money. No matter what your inspiration may be, there is no denying that there is some major potential for profit in the real estate investing world.

However, while there is no denying that real estate has made more people millionaires than virtually any other industry—this isn’t exactly an easy career path to take. There are so many challenges that can get in the way of real estate investors and so many important milestones  you will need to reach during your journey.

But if you really want to start flipping houses for money and really want to start being a successful real estate investor—here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Know what you are getting into. There are different types of real estate investors.  If you want to be the type of real estate investor that flips houses, your focus is going to be on buying distressed properties and bringing them up to market standards—then selling that property for a profit.  Not all real estate investors do this. Some buy and hold properties and some do wholesaling.  You shouldn’t be doing all of these at once.  Pick what type of real estate investor you want to be (i.e. a fix and flip) and stick with that one path.
  1. Make sure you have the money. Every good real estate investor will make sure that they have the money, time and skills in order to actually turn a profit off of their investment. If you are buying properties with the intention of flipping them, you need to have enough money in place. You will need short-term cash to acquire the property, and then plenty of cash for reservations (make sure you have more than you think you need—reservations always tend to go over budget). You also need to think about how long you will be paying the mortgage on that property before you can sell it. Most renovators hold on to a property for about 6 months to allow for renovations—but it can be more depending on the home.
  1. Think about timing. Whether you are in charge of managing a crew, or if you are a DIYer who is doing most of the work themselves—flipping is a big time commitment. This type of real estate investing take more actual time than other type, so make sure you have the time to commit to the project. Don’t forget, if you want to keep cash flowing in so that you can continue to fix and flip properties, you need to remember that flipping is a “rinse and repeat” business model—where you are going to be doing the same thing time and time again.
  1. Make sure you have the skills. Even if you don’t do the actual work, there are a few skills you need to have in order to start flipping houses. You need to have a solid market to work with and you need to know who your end buyer is going to be. You also need the right team with the right skills to execute all of the marketing, legal and construction access of your renovation process.

Flipping is a great sector of real estate investing and one that can really help you make a great deal of money. But there is also a lot of risk involved. Keep these tips in mind before you start your venture so you can be completely prepared for this new undertaking.

Buying an investment property is a great way to make some serious money.  After all, we’ve all seen and heard of stories about people finding great deals on homes and making some serious cash with them.  However, the first and most important step is to find the right investment property. Without the right property, there is no hope for making money.

So, how exactly do you find these great deal investment properties? There are a few different resources you can turn to. We’ve detailed a few of the best sources for finding great investment leads.

  • The Connected Investor’s Marketplace- Also known as the CI Marketplace, this is a great resource for wholesaling, rentals and fix and flips.  You will find properties that are listed by asset managers who sell these homes on behalf of banks and hedge funds.
  • Bandit Signs- Sure, they may seem too good to be true, the ones that say “We Buy Houses” or offer great deals with signs on the side of the road.  Never underestimate these. They don’t always work out, but sometimes they can be a great resource. These individuals often buy too many houses and don’t have enough time to fix and flip them themselves, meaning you can swoop in and take the property off their hands.
  • Online Auctions- Online auctions can sometimes be difficult to keep track of, but they are also a great place to get a great deal. You of course need to know the market first before you get started. While it can be time consuming to keep track of these online auctions, there are actually websites, such as Deal Dog, that deliver a complete rundown of all of the online auction homes, across a variety of sites, on one easy-to-navigate platform.
  • Driving the Neighborhood- If you have a neighborhood that you really think you could make some money in with the right investment property, there is nothing wrong with driving around and knocking on doors. It is time consuming, but you never know what properties you will see with a “For Sale By Owner” sign in the front, or who may be willing to sell their fixer-upper, just to get it off their hands.

You can find a great investment property and get your foot in the door for the right price if you are just willing to be patient.  Keep these tips in mind and start looking through these avenues to find an investment property that works for you.

Armed with this information, you are now ready to go out and find the perfect investment property to meet your needs. Whether you plan on holding on to a property in an up-and-coming area or if you are doing a quick fix and flip, these are some of the best options for finding a great property to get you started.

If you have been thinking about buying a home, whether it is an investment property, a fix and flip or even your primary residence, the main goal is always the same—you want to figure out how to get that property under contract.  Now, every house is different and every property is going to be listed by a different type of seller, so there may be some differences in getting your foot in the door.

However, the biggest thing that you are going to have to do when it comes to getting any property under contract is to make sure that you execute the documents correctly. After all, so much of buying a house all comes down to paperwork.  Here is what you need to know about turning your offer into a “SOLD” sign.

  • Always make sure that the legal address and description are accurate—this will save you a lot of headache down the line.
  • If you plan on whole-sailing the property, pay close attention to the line items: “Purchaser” and “Deed is Made out to” so that they also include the “and assigns.” This will let you sell the contract to your end buyer.
  • Think about the Earnest Money Deposit, or Good Faith Deposit. It is always negotiable, you just have to think about who you are buying from.  Basically, this deposit shows you are serious and prevents you from backing out without a reason. Sometimes, this doesn’t matter as much to a homeowner, as other factors, like how quickly you will be able to close.
  • Know who will be holding the earnest money deposit before closing. This is typically a closing attorney.  The title office may also hold it. A neutral party should hold the deposit, so that if the deal falls apart, it goes back to the buyer (or the seller) depending on what happens.
  • Be smart with your due diligence period. Even if both parties want to get this deal wrapped up quickly, there needs to be some sort of due diligence period that gives you time for property inspections, surveys, insurance quotes and a title search, among other things.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into buying a home.  You’ll want to be prepared for all of these things if you are serious about turning a home that you are interested in, into one you have under contract.