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As every real estate investor knows, nothing is more important than location when looking for any property. The old term “location, location, location” has been around for a long time and it continues to be one of the golden rules of real estate. After all, you can change everything except location.

Of course, when you are buying a home for yourself, it is worth putting in the extra money to get the location you want. However, when you are investing in a property, you want to find a location that is up and coming—so that you can keep your overhead low put still benefit from being in a great neighborhood.

This is why you want to find investment properties in up and coming neighborhoods and look for neighborhoods that are about to be hot. This can be difficult to determine, but here are a few signs that you are in a soon-to-be-hot neighborhood.

  1. There are Other “Flipped” Properties for Sale in the Market—Check your comps. If you see other flipped properties for sale in a neighborhood, then it is a good sign. You don’t want to be the first person to come in and start flipping, but you also don’t want to choose a neighborhood that has already turned and has an over-saturated number of flipped properties for sale.
  2. Trendy Businesses Are Moving In—If you see a Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods or other big, on-trend business moving into the neighborhood, then this is always a good sign. Big businesses often look to emerging areas when they want to find a new location.
  3. You See Lots of Popular Ride Share Programs—Do you see lots of scooters and bike rentals out and about in the neighborhood? This is a good sign that people not only like living in the area, but they also like staying in the area and feel safe biking or scooting around.
  4. Properties Aren’t Staying on the Market for Long—Even if there are a lot of flipped properties for sale in the market, that doesn’t mean the property is necessarily “up and coming.” Look at how long those properties are spending on the market. If a property is staying on the market for 90 days or longer, this isn’t a good sign. Look for neighborhoods where properties are moving quickly.
  5. There Are Hot Adjacent Neighborhoods—The best sign that a neighborhood is about to be hot and is about to be hot, is to look at the neighborhoods around it. A neighborhood can be up and coming, but if it is surrounded by dangerous or undeveloped neighborhoods, it is going to be really hard to sell properties in this area. You want to find an up-and-coming neighborhood that is surrounded by other hot neighborhoods to make a sound investment.

Keep these tell-tale signs in mind as you start looking for your next fix and flip property, so you can make sure that you are buying the right property for you and your financial future.

There are many things you can do in order to improve your upcoming fix and flip property. Now that the weather is warming up, there is no better time to start thinking of outdoor improvements that can help not only add curb appeal but help turn your back yard into a dream oasis for buyers.

If you are looking for outdoor improvements that can help transform your property, increase its value, and get the attention of buyers—here are some great outdoor improvements that are perfect for your investment property.

1. Update the Front Door and Garage Door- Curb appeal is important and you want to make sure that you make a great first impression. Swapping out the garage door or front door are affordable projects that will give your property that extra appeal.
2. Add Some Plants- Planting a few flowers here and there can go a long way in both improving the front and back of the home.
3. Sod or Plant Grass Seeds- Make sure that you put a lot of grass in the backyard to create some usable space. Sod is expensive, but sometimes necessary. If you are able to plant grass seed, make sure to time it out so that it is growing by the time you start showing the house.
4. Fence in the Yard- Privacy is a really big deal for people with back yards where they butt up to their neighbors’ yards. If you want to define your space, and add some privacy that makes the yard seem more private, invest in a fence. You can look for privacy fences that aren’t as expensive as some of the more ornate wrought-iron ones and add a lot of appeal to the space.
5. Add a Deck- If you have a good contractor and don’t overdo it with the materials, you can add a deck in your outdoor space for relatively affordable amount. They have a high ROI. Just make sure that the deck is done right so it passes the inspection.
6. Paint the Exterior of the Home- A fresh coat of paint on the home’s exterior can really transform a space, and it is way cheaper than replacing siding. Keep paint colors classic and fresh, not too trendy.
7. Stage the Outdoor Area For Fun- Think about how you envision your backyard being used at this home. String lights a staged grill, some outdoor furniture or even a fire pit can all show potential buyers how they can use the outdoor space. This is particularly important if you are trying to sell a home with a smaller back yard. Buyers love having a great outdoor space to enjoy, so pay close attention to the yard, with these easy fixes that will add a lot of value to your property.

There is no shortage of advice for the fix-and-flip investor in 2019. An endless litany of websites, podcasts and social media feeds shout tips, tricks and everything in between. But what does a fix-and-flip investor really need to know? What are the essentials of house flipping?

After more than 20 years helping fix-and-flip investors succeed, we’ve found it comes down to four essential questions. Knowing the answers to these questions will put you well on the way to achieving your goals and succeeding in this highly competitive business.

Essential Question #1: What is a good investment property?

What makes a fix-and-flip investment worth pursuing? That’s a simple question with a complex answer, one that cuts to the very heart of real estate investing. In short, it comes down to value. Certain properties are obviously more valuable than others, and understanding that value will make or break your fix-and-flip investing career.

Traditional measures of value apply to fix-and-flip properties as well. You’ll never go wrong considering factors like the quality of a school district, local population movement or overall market strength. But, for the fix-and-flip investor it’s important to understand other factors as well. The most important of these is a calculation of a property’s value after it’s been renovated, or After Repair Value (ARV).

ARV is a measure of the value of a fix-and-flip investment property after it has been renovated to meet the standard of local comparable properties. Calculating a property’s ARV correctly will allow you to judge what you should offer for a property, what it will cost in repairs and upgrades, and what you can expect as net profit. When weighed alongside traditional factors, a property’s ARV will help you more accurately determine its value as an investment.

Essential Question #2: What makes a successful fix-and-flip investor?

As a fix-and-flip real estate investor, you’re in business for yourself and no one has more control over your success than you. In this respect, fix-and-flip investors have much in common with other entrepreneurs. Studying entrepreneurship, in general, can teach us a few important characteristics of successful fix-and-flip investors. The three most important are a goal-oriented mindset, patience and discipline.

  • Like any entrepreneur, fix-and-flip investors should be goal-oriented. Setting goals can help you stay focused and motivated and is a good way to monitor your overall progress. Identifying and setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound Goals will help you hone your entrepreneurial mindset.
  • For fix-and-flip investors, patience and self-discipline go hand in hand. The real estate market (fix-and-flip or otherwise) is subject to change, and it takes both patience and discipline to succeed. A previously hot market may slow and a slower market may heat up, moving so quickly investors can get overextended. Having the patience to ride out market cycles and the discipline to stick to your investment plans can separate you from unsuccessful fix-and-flip investors. Crafting a well-made business plan will help you strategize your way through fluctuating real estate cycles and sticking to your plan will help you avoid investment missteps.

Essential Question #3: How do real estate cycles affect the fix-and-flip market?

All forms of real estate investing are, at least in part, affected by market trends. Sometimes a hot market means properties will only be available for days or even hours. Other times, a perfectly good property may linger for weeks or months.

Many factors play into these cycles, but fix-and-flip investors should be especially aware of population movement, overall economic strength and construction trends.

Population movement affects the number of potential buyers entering or exiting your market of choice. If your market’s population is growing, that could bring more buyers looking for a deal. The U.S. Census Bureau has reliable information on population trends that may affect your investment strategy.

Considering the overall strength of your local economy can also give key insight into long-term fix-and-flip trends. If your market’s economy is heating up, real estate growth is likely to follow.

Finally, the construction of new homes can also be a noteworthy indicator of market cycles. When construction spending is on the rise, that can mean there is a short supply of housing in a given market. Monitoring construction spending with data (updated quarterly) from the U.S. Census Bureau can be a good starting point.

Essential Question #4: What should fix-and-flip investors read to learn more?

Business leaders across all industries list reading as one of the keys to their success. The same is true in real estate, where reading the right books can help you hone your approach to investing and business in general.

Anchor Loans CEO/President and co-founder Steve Pollack recommends Deep Work by Cal Newport. “Newport’s book opened my eyes to more efficient and productive ways to create more meaningful project results,” said Pollack in a rundown of the business books recommended by Anchor Loans staff.

If you have been working on flipping or renovating a home and waiting for the spring housing market to hit, then you are almost ready to list that home in one of the most popular times of years for sellers. However, after all of that hard work on your part, you want to make sure your property is in the best condition possible to sell, so that you can make as much money as you can off your property. If you are about ready to list, here are a few tips on last minute details that will have your home ready for the market.

  1. Pick a Date and Stick With it

If you are trying to get some of those last-minute things ready on your investment property, you want to stay as motivated as possible in order to get these things done. After all, every day you hold on to that house is costing you money. Pick a date to list and work backward from it, and do not budge from that date.

  1. Bring Someone Else In

This doesn’t have to necessarily be a professional, but just someone that you trust. Bring them in to look at the property and let you know what they think about some of these last-minute details you need to get done. Investment properties involve so much effort on your part, and you spend so much time looking at the big picture, that you may accidentally be unable to see the little details. Having a fresh pair of eyes can really help.

  1. Don’t Forget to Treat This Home Like the Investment It Is

This is so important for any investor, because it is so easy to forget that your property is a business. You put so much blood, sweat and tears into the home, that you can start to accidentally put your own personal touches on it and feel overly emotional about the property. Don’t forget, this isn’t your home, and you are not going to be living there. Keep things as neutral as possible to appeal to as many buyers as you can.

  1. Staging, Staging, Staging

Staging is one of the best ways to highlight the features of any home, especially one that has just been renovated and doesn’t have anyone living in them. It helps people visualize spaces in the home and see its potential. Staging can seem like one other expense that you don’t want to deal with, but it is one that is worth the extra cost.

  1. Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is important because it is the first thing that people see about your home when they pull up to the home. It is easy to get so overwhelmed with all of the little things you need to do indoors, that you ignore the outside of the home. First impressions are everything—especially on the outside.

The spring is a great time to try to sell an investment property, as so many buyers are done with the hectic holiday season and ready to find a new property to buy. Keep these little tips in mind when you get ready to sell your home so you can finally see the results of all of the hard wok you put into this property.

Most investors know that foreclosures can be a great way to get a quality property for a low price. While foreclosures are very unfortunate for the individual owning the property, they present a great opportunity for those who are buying it.

However, if you are interested in buying a foreclosure, then you need to have a better understanding of foreclosures, especially the different types of foreclosures, so you know what you are getting into before you start browsing for potential foreclosure properties.

There are three basic types of foreclosures and three ways for you as a buyer to acquire one of these properties. How easy it is to buy one of these properties all depends on where the property is in the foreclosures process. Here are the three stages.

  • Pre-Foreclosure

During this stage, investors will be able to offer the most incentives to distressed homeowners. This stage prevents there from being further damage to the home owner’s credit rating and allows an investor to come in, buy the property at a mutually-agreed upon low price, and handle the transaction before the lender gets involved.

As a buyer it can be hard to find pre-foreclosure properties, but when you do, you have so much to offer the seller that you can often strike the best deal and don’t have to worry about third-parties such as banks getting involved.

  • Foreclosure

While the term “foreclosure” is used as a blanket statement for all three stages of the foreclosure process, the foreclosure stage is different from pre-foreclosure. If you are looking for foreclosure properties, you can go through the county clerk’s office.

The foreclosure process varies from state-to-state. However, across the board, there are two main types of foreclosures.

Non-judicial foreclosures pertain to deeds of trust, where a third-party (or trustee) handles the entire foreclosure process in 2-4 months after a borrower has stopped making payments and defaulted on their loan.

Judicial foreclosures pertain to mortgages, rather than deeds of trust. They take a lot longer to complete.

Whether the foreclosure is non-judicial or judicial, after the property passes through these two stages, then it will be sold at-auction to the highest bidder.

  • Post-Foreclosure

The post-foreclosure stage happens when the lender has already taken control of the property. The home is then owned or in possession of the lender’s REO or Real Estate Owned department. Simply put, after the property is in the hands of a new owner or an investor (such as a bank) then you can make an offer. Most banks are willing to negotiate.

While this isn’t typically the time to get the best deal, you can still save by buying properties at this time.

Buying a foreclosure property is often much more challenging than many investors realize. There is a lot of unpredictability involved with buying foreclosures. However, if you are able to stick it out, then this foreclosure can be a great way for you to save on the initial expense of buying your investment property.

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.