There is no question that investors are back.
From the bottom of the market to the multi-million dollar price points, investors have returned to the Highlands and Cashiers, NC real estate markets with great gusto and equally great expectations for finding the perfect property.
Gripping Buyer’s Guides, MLS sheets, pages printed from our website, and copies of our ads ripped from magazines and newspapers, they appear at our office door with wide eyes and enthusiasm. They tell us that this is the year they are either jumping back into the market or into it for the first time.
Now the real work of the real estate broker begins: it is our charge to help our investors truly define their objectives and investment targets so that they do not get lost in the weeds, rush into the first deal they come to, or suffer from analysis paralysis for fear of making the wrong move.
In this type of buyer’s market, one cannot possibly look at every deal that is out there. You will waste too much time chasing deals that do not fit your abilities, in places you do not want to be, with terms that demand that you fit to the deal rather than structuring the deal to your strengths.
Here are some of the salient guidelines we offer our Buyer clients. Let’s step through what we consider to be some of the most important questions to consider prior to beginning your search in earnest.
1) What market(s) do I want to be in?
On the surface, this seems rather obvious; however, in our small market, there are numerous communities, areas, and submarkets that proffer very different experiences, amenities, and price tags. For example, let’s say you have decided you want to look in the Highlands area only. Let’s break that market into smaller chunks and determine which one(s) to include in our search parameters: walk-to-town properties, view/water properties, gated communities, condos/townhomes, areas suitable for children and young families, properties with ample privacy and acreage, and/or country club properties.
2) What property type(s) are positioned to do well in my chosen market and fit my resources, interests, and talents?
Once you have your market(s) defined more clearly, discuss your special interests and talents with your real estate broker and see where there may be unique market buys. For example, perhaps you are very skilled in seeing the potential in a property and love to renovate fixer upper and/or distressed properties. Such projects energize you, and you are happy to consider properties that would otherwise scare off other investors. Next, quiz your real estate broker on which investment areas have the higher ROIs, larger potential pools of Buyers, and tend to weather market cycles. Now you have substantially narrowed the field once more, as you are considering properties that live in the intersection of search results from questions 1 and 2.
3) What is the price range I can comfortably handle?
Again, a seemingly obvious question. However, you would be surprised how often Buyers get distracted by properties that they know are out of their financial reach. Begin with your budget numbers clearly delineated in your mind. Factor in any renovation costs (if needed), costs to carry the property (including HOA fees, taxes, pending assessments, etc.), and general maintenance costs.
Provide that price range to your broker. Ask her or him to include properties in that range or lower (and to only add properties of higher price points to that list if she or he has specific knowledge of Seller motivation/unpublished price discounts).
The answers to these questions will help you clarify your thinking, will sharpen your investment focus, and will narrow the field. With the help of a professional real estate broker, research the markets and find those properties that have the attributes that match your interests, strengths, and investment objectives. You will find that the search is as pleasant as it is profitable.