Creative Real Estate

Really quickly I wanted to talk to you about creative real estate. If you've been investing for any period of time, you already know that real estate is a creative business. If you’ve never invested in properties before, now you know. My name is Cameron Dunlap and I’ve been investing in real estate for a very long time, since 1993 to be exact. Over the years, I’ve seen all sorts of markets and have had the opportunity to be involved in numerous transactions. If there is one thing I know extremely well, it’s creative real estate. In fact, some people have referred to me as the “Transaction Technician” because I can figure out some pretty creative ways to make things work and get the job done.

What I would like to focus on are a few creative techniques I use to find properties and then talk about how I determine market value on a property without ever seeing it. More on this in just a minute…

When I first jumped into real estate after watching an infomercial late one night, I thought I could do everything myself, and that’s exactly what I did. My first investment property was a rehab deal that was 4 hours from where I lived, and I was so excited about the whole thing that I was willing to drive every weekend to fix it up. The real estate agent and I calculated that it should only take me about 5 weeks to completely renovate the residence. With a hammer in one hand and a crowbar in the other, I began not a 5 week journey but a whopping 18 week escapade. I soon learned the hard way, that my time would have been better spent doing the things that make me money, such as going out and finding more real estate deals.


Creative Real EstateI still walked away with a $12,000 profit, At that time, $12K was more than I had ever made anywhere else, so for me it was worth the time, sweat and headache. Since then, I’ve really honed my skills and now teach thousands how to do it the right way. Being in the trenches myself, I know what challenges investors face today because I experience it, too. One of those challenges is finding the right properties to invest in. We all know this is one of the greatest times in history to be buying and selling real estate because everything has dropped in value since 2008. The market has stabilized for the most part around the country, but it’s going to be a while before prices of real estate get back to where they used to be.

With all these discounted properties available, there’s no reason why anyone can’t grab a few and make some money on them. The easiest way to do this is to leverage others. We call them bird dogs or house hunters and they are AWESOME! They do most of the busy work which is great because it allows me to more things with my time. Knowing how valuable these bird dogs were for me, I created a system called iFlip, which basically handles three key pieces to having success in finding these properties. First, it attracts all my bird dogs. Then it trains all my bird dogs so they know exactly what I’m looking for. It also manages all my bird dogs so I don’t have to. They upload the properties I’m looking for, I log in to verify what they brought me and then the system pays them according to our agreement. I would consider this a creative real estate solution for finding properties.

One thing they look for are newspapers that are piled up on the doorstep or driveway. They also look at the grass: how tall it is or if it’s brown during the summer. They also look at the windows to see if there are any blinds. In many cases, not all, a home without blinds is vacant. If by chance you do come across a vacant home, you can submit a Find the Seller premium skip trace which will allow you the jumpstart you need to locate the seller.

Now that you’ve got your property, it’s time to determine its value so you can actually make money on this deal. Another challenge investors have is paying to much for the property, so it’s important to know what it’s worth and how to determine it’s value. The number you are looking for is the after-repair value (ARV). First we’ll look at finding its value and then look at estimating repairs. I have a very simple creative real estate strategy that will help you in determining this value. Most of the foreclosures you buy will have some sort of repairs needed so this is important…

The first thing you’ll need to do is call up a realtor and get a CMA or comparative market analysis. We’re going to look at other properties in the marketplace and see what they sold for. We’re actually going to go even a step further to determine what the house is really worth. The real value is what a buyer is willing to pay, so we need evidence of what buyers have recently paid. We also want to know what is currently on the market, or active properties, because sometimes those active properties can tell you a whole lot more than those that have sold.

For instance, if you have a seller out there who has a property for sale, where the comps support a $200,000 after repair value, and you’ve got a seller out there asking $180,000 for a comparable house, THAT you want to know about. That’s why we not only look at sold, but we also look at active in today’s world. Yes, you could have an appraiser do it, but that’s going to cost you.

Now let’s look at determining the cost of repairs. I have a simple strategy that I use that gets me very close to knowing my repair costs. The nice thing about this strategy is that you can adjust it how you see fit. First I categorize the property depending what kind of condition it’s in: Bad, really bad, and awful. Bad is usually based on the basics like paint, carpet, light fixtures, and maybe some cabinets. Really bad is all that plus the roof, maybe some landscaping, or A/C unit and heating system. Awful is all that plus new windows, plumbing, electrical, siding, basically stuff that is not cosmetic. Then I take the total square feet of the home and multiply it by $10 if it’s bad, $15 if its very bad and $20 if it’s awful. This give me a very good, creative real estate solution to estimating repairs without ever going to the house. This means you can invest in properties out of state now if you wanted.

These are just a few creative real estate ideas that can really help you out and save you a ton of time.