Digital House Hunting How to Find the Best Deals Online

Digital House Hunting: How to Find the Best Deals Online

In today’s hyper-digital world, almost anything we could ever want is available for purchase online. As technology has continued to advance over the past two decades, sales for virtually everything we would need as a consumer — from shoes and clothing to cars and even luxury survival bunkers — are available on the internet. Homes, apartments, and other real estate properties are no different, thanks in large part to the advent of digital house-hunting platforms like Trulia and Realtor.com.

Any seasoned home buyer or real estate professional will tell you that platforms like these have made the process of house-hunting in our digital age remarkably simple. Although hunting for and buying real estate completely digitally has never been easier, the best deals can be made even better when buyers are able to learn how to spot prime sellers and find partners to help fund their property purchases.

Marco Kozlowski is one such professional. For the past 3 decades, Kozlowski has successfully built and grown his own real estate business while coaching and mentoring others on how to do the same using his winning strategies. His tactics have granted hundreds of others the knowledge and skills they need to create their own successful investments in real estate—almost all of which have been able to do so completely online from the comfort of their own homes.

How to easily spot and negotiate with distressed sellers

According to Kozlowski, there are four primary motivating factors that commonly cause homeowners to expedite the selling process of their property. These factors include:

  • Debt
  • Divorce
  • Displacement, and;
  • Death

Aptly coined “the four D’s,” these factors are often behind a homeowner’s desire to sell their real estate property as quickly as possible. Sometimes, even in as little as 10 days.

“Debt is, unfortunately, the factor here that most Americans are familiar with,” Kozlowski says. “Perhaps a seller’s debt is causing them to have to sell their family home in order to avoid a pending lawsuit or foreclosure on their property. In this case, the seller will most likely want to sell their property as fast as possible for as much as they’re willing to reasonably accept, especially if they don’t have the financial resources to spend months or years in legal battles to fight litigation.”

Divorce, another of Kozlowski’s “four D’s,” is another common factor that creates distressed home sellers. As Kozlowski explains, more savvy couples will simply want their divorce proceedings filed and finalized as quickly as possible. This includes the selling off of any shared assets or real estate properties, making those properties prime pickings for homebuyers searching for the best deals online.

The last two “D’s,” displacement and death, tend to go hand in hand, Kozlowski tells us.

“Members of the Baby Boomer generation possess the highest wealth on average of any population in the US,” Kozlowski adds, “and the reality is that they aren’t getting any healthier or younger. At the same time, the average American moves every 5-7 years, so let’s round this up to ‘10’ for the sake of easier math. Since there are roughly 330 million people in the United States, 10% of that means there are some 33 million Americans moving at any given time. With a conservative estimate, only 1% of those 33 million will have real estate you might want to buy, leaving us with 330,000 potential properties. Divide that number by 10 again, and you’re left with roughly 33,000 people who are motivated by death or displacement to sell now.”

Never use your own money or credit when buying real estate

Before you start buying any real estate property online, Kozlowski says it is of paramount importance to familiarize yourself with the different types of lending possibilities available to you, including learning about equity partners you can then begin networking with. Doing so will allow you to find real estate properties at more affordable prices, while your equity partner then finances the property’s purchase with their own capital and credit—rather than your own.

Another viable strategy is seller financing, in which the seller owns a property they are trying to sell.

If you’re able to best position yourself to negotiate a mutually agreeable deal, you can use seller financing for the boon of all involved parties. According to Rocketmortgage, with seller financing, you purchase the for-sale property from the present owner using an agreement drafted and signed by both parties. This agreement is almost identical in structure to those formally drafted by banks or other financial institutions, as they also include details such as a repayment schedule, interest rates, and — in the potential event of defaulted payments or breaches of contract — consequences for either party.

However, as Kozlowski explains, the best kind of lenders available are asset-based lenders, especially for buyers looking to acquire real estate properties without risking any of their own credit, cash, or other assets.

“I spent months,” says Kozlowski, “upon years calling and talking to thousands of lenders before I finally figured out the best questions to ask. What I found is that, with the right asset-based lender behind you, buyers can get up to 70% of the value on almost any property being sold. Keep in mind that I’m talking about the value of the property based on its condition and cash flow. Not the purchase price. This means that I could get up to $140,000 from an asset-based lender to use for a property valued at $200,000.”

For homebuyers and others looking to invest in real estate without ever leaving the comfort of home, these strategies pose a unique advantage. By being able to spot and find distressed sellers with properties they want to sell fast, and with an asset-based lender behind them, hunting and acquiring properties completely online has never been easier, faster, or more affordable.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.