One of our 7 Golden Rules for property investment is to add value. Often value will be interpreted as renovation and this starts with knowing how to spot the right renovation projects in your area, in a systemised and streamlined way.
It’s easy to spend hours upon hours getting lost trying to find investment opportunities in property, wading through listing after listing without getting anywhere. In today’s video, we show you a two-step strategy to easily find houses in need of renovation. Now this will work great in any market but it is slightly better with a busy one.
- This article was updated, April 2016
[00.42] Introduction to setting up Rightmove ready to go
[01.29] Choosing your area and what to consider
[02.14] What to look for with the low hanging fruit
[03.12] Picking your strategy & criteria to narrow your shortlist
[04.20] Improving the filters with list view
[04.47] The two parts of using this technique
[05.05] Part 1 – Focusing on the listings
[09.30] Part 1 recap
[09.48] Part 2 – Setting up alerts to systemise the process
[12.37] Part 2 recap
So in this video, I wanted to show you how to find a renovation or refurbishment projects in your local area.
This will be useful If you’re looking into flip strategies. These are strategies where you buy a property, refurbish it and then sell it on, maybe to a first time buyer.
Or, it will also be useful if you’re looking into a buy to let strategy and want to add value to a property instead of just buying a ready to go deal. This could be if you’re interested in refinancing where down the line you might want to take some money out of the deal. Or, perhaps you’re just looking to lock in some equity by undertaking some refurbishments early on in the process.
Whatever the reason might be for you looking for properties in need of some TLC I can assume you’re not looking at buying a ready to go, packaged, buy to let.
So, here I am going to show you how to use Rightmove to find properties in need of refurbishment, running through some very quick and simple steps on how you can spot projects of this kind.
We’ll be using search methods and alerts to try and speed up the process so you’re not spending all your time just searching and filtering properties. Later, you will be able to speed up the process even more by simplifying and systemising what you’re looking for as you drill down. We understand that you want to spend as much of your time as possible actually going out and viewing the properties, putting those offers in and getting those deals agreed.
So very quickly… Rightmove
You need a Rightmove account and you need to be logged in. It’s free and simple to set up. So, to find the refurbishment projects you’re looking for you’re going to go research, first select an area. You’re going to need to have done a little bit of research on this already. Really you need to know a little bit the town, city, postcode, the location that you want to cover.
You also want to have thought about the the types of properties you want to invest in. That’s the number of rooms, the price range etc.
But before we consider these elements, let’s look at filters.
You will know pretty much straight away if you are looking at an area that’s very buoyant as you will see a lot of activity. You will see a lot of interest in properties whether they’re in need of refurbishment or are simply straightforward rentals. Well, you want the best and the easiest house in which to invest…
Picking The Low Hanging Fruit
You’re going to try and pick out the low hanging fruit. That is, you pick out the properties that are going to be the cheapest and best possible refurbishment projects. You ideally want to do that by price range so you’re going to want to have a bit of an idea, an understanding of what price range those properties are likely to fall within.
So say you set your filter to a hundred grand. If what you’re looking for is a three bedroom house for under a hundred grand and typically houses of that type, in that area, go for a lot more than that then there’s no point in setting your filter to a hundred grand. Whereas, if there are loads of three bedroom houses for under a hundred grand (because typically it’s fifty grand, sixty grand, or seventy grand for that type of property) then your filter will be set too high and you’re going to be getting too many options coming through to you. There’ll simply be too much data, too many listings to go through through which take up too much of your time.
You want to narrow down that criteria as much as possible.
Let’s take as an example Salford, which is an area that we cover. For the price range we’ll typically look to a maximum of around one hundred thousand pounds. Because of the strategy we’re following we want three bedroom properties, preferably houses. So we set up out filters and click on find properties.
It’s in this list, where we want to try and pick out those refurbishment projects, renovations best suited for to the strategy we’re following.
As I said before the strategy is what you want from the property. So it could be a buy to let where you want to add value. Or you might be looking to flip it once the refurbishments are done.
Once you’ve got your criteria narrowed down it gives you an initial short list that you can see here. So in this example one of twenty one houses has come up as suitable.
Narrowing Your Area and Criteria
Now, you want to work with the location radius. Again, to narrow things down.
So we’re working with Salford and that’s quite a big area. To only have twenty-one properties show up means that we’ve got quite a tight, criteria. That’s a good thing. You don’t want too many properties but you want to get a few. Anywhere around twenty, maybe thirty, or even up, say, a maximum of around fifty properties is a great start.
Anything higher than that and your criteria is almost certainly, too broad. Getting too many properties thrown at you that don’t necessarily fit the criteria that you’re looking at are going to waste your time
So we’re looking for renovation projects, looking for refurbishment deals where we can add value. There doesn’t have to be structural issues, we don’t have to be looking for derelict buildings or anything like that. We just want properties which are a bit of a project.
So there’s twenty one listings. I click on list view and you can see how we can improve this slightly. If we go down to fifty, we’re going to focus on the lowest value ones first. There’s a little bit of tweaking you need to do initially to improve the filters. You want to list all of those properties on one page so can can simply, easily scroll down and try and pick out the ones that fit.
Your Refurbishment Project
There’s two parts to this method:
The first one is looking at the listings.
The second one is setting up an alert.
Let’s focus on the listings initially and go into the alert side of things in a second. So, there are three areas that we’re looking at. We’re looking at the number of properties, the photos that are listed, the external photos in the listing and, of course, the description. We have to take each one of these individually.
With external photos you’re looking for properties that look a little bit neglected. Maybe the garden’s overgrown, maybe there’s a board on the window, maybe it just looks a bit tired or tatty.
Again, it doesn’t have to be falling down. There don’t need to be structural issues to be considered. Houses in need of refurbishment don’t have to be wrecks (unless that’s the route you want to go down). What you’re looking for are tell-tale signs that the property might fit the criteria you’ve set yourself.
…and when you find a property you like, click save and add it to your shortlist.
At first you’re just going to build up an initial shortlist of these potential refurbishment options. Now, if we scroll back to the top it’s the external photo. The internal, or the rest of the pictures are here. Look, it tells you how many pictures are showing. So, you’ve got four, eight, two. For refurbishment properties you’re probably looking at properties that have a minimal number of images, usually five or lower.
One to two pictures is great, three or four pictures is typically okay, five okay, six, seven, eight, nine, ten pictures. Then the numbers are starting to tell you something.
Because typically, properties that have five or six or more images are going to be better condition properties than those that have less. After all, there’s more to show off.
If it’s a complete renovation project, needing a lot of work doing to it then internal pictures aren’t going to necessarily going to help promote or market it well. So a lack of these pictures is a tell-tale sign that the property may require some level of refurbishment.
So to summarise, i’d probably skip over listings that have got too many pictures showing. If there’s only one picture, great. Click on that and delve a little deeper.
“In our opinion, it’s investment project.”
Looking at this one… Okay, it’s currently achieving £550 via existing tenants. Sometimes a property that’s tenanted won’t have internal pictures either. This could be because the agent has not been able to access to take those pictures. It might be because there’s a lot of furniture or other items in the house that mean that any photos taken won’t sell the property that well. Remember agents care more about viewings than photographs.
I probably wouldn’t save that particular one. It’s not going to necessarily be a renovation project or refurbishment property. More likely what we’re looking at here is just an investment project. We can make this guess because it’s currently tenanted.
So I’ll continue to scroll down that list to see if any more properties stand out. We can see that there are five. So that’s five I’d probably click on to take a closer look at the images to see what we can see.
Okay, that could be a potential…
So the things that stand out are… Firstly, by the looks of it that’s not a modern bathroom and there’s work to be done here and here. I’m not sure if there’s any carpet or anything like that on the floor there.
So these are all signs that it probably needs some work doing on it. So, I’d add that one to the shortlist and start looking at some of the other properties. We can click on save, go back to the original list and start the process again.
It’s as simple as that.
To summarise, it’s just a case of picking out those potential properties that might fit the bill. You scroll through them all…
Again, there’s only two photos here and you can read here in the details that it “requires general improvement and redecoration”.
Perfect, click save.
Checking The Pictures
I’ll go back to the top as I think we’ve missed one up there that only had two pictures as well. Again, yeah two pictures. I’ll click on that and have a look at that property again in a little bit more detail.
Here’s another. The first picture is the main image, the second one is an internal photograph. The third one is the description.
So, when you’re reading the description you’re looking out for phrases like needs refurbishment, run down, projects, renovation properties, general improvement…any wording that alludes to it being the type of property that you’re aiming for.
Now, that’s method. It’s a proactive approach. To summarise, you’re going to be going through lists of properties in a given using a criteria. Then you’re going to go through those lists and pick out houses that fit the bill.
Then hopefully, when you click on ‘my Rightmove’ you’ll have a number of saved properties that are worth looking at further as potential refurbishment projects.
Setting Your Alerts
The second way is a little bit more reactive and a lot more systematised/streamlined and involves setting yourself up a few alerts. You’ve already got your criteria here – you already know your location, your price range, the number of rooms, property style (terraces, semis). You want to have used filters to drill down as far as possible.
Now, to set up the alerts very simple. So I’ll create an alert for Salford here. Obviously, your location will be different. Your price range and property and number of bedrooms and stuff like that will be different. We’re just going to very simply set up a quick property alert that will send us out the listings of properties when they become available. So, by doing this you’re going to get properties coming through that won’t necessarily fit the bill. This kind of alert is just going to just you all the properties in an area that match price parameters that you set.
One or two might come come up where they’re in good condition and don’t need any work. Ones that are simply a good price.
So this type of alert is just location and price. Then you’ll want to filter them later on when they come into the email box. I advise that you set up a brand new email for estate agents and Rightmove/Zoopla alerts just so you’ve got everything in one place and so your other day to day emails don’t get overwhelmed. You can keep it completely separate and visit it once a day, once every couple of days, once a week, whatever suits your schedule. You don’t want to monitor your alerts as they come through but put aside some time to go through them at once.
So this is a quite simple and systematised way of doing things. You want to set up these alerts as soon as you start looking or researching an are, so that especially in a busy market you’re getting these listings as soon as they come through.
But you have to act fairly fast…
You have to be very proactive with your shortlist. You need to arrange viewings and get offers in on the table as quickly as possible. Again, to take Salford as an example, using this process and having very tight criteria we get only a handful of potential properties that coming up on a weekly or even a monthly basis.
Utilising Your Time On Viewings
In Salford even when we’re fast to call up to arrange viewings they’ve already got a load of viewings arranged in. It’s very buoyant at the moment. We’ll go out do a viewing, put an offer in, and often there are already a number of other offers on the table as well. It can be a very competitive market in some locations and Salford is one of them. Speed is of the essence so you need to make sure property listings come through to you as quick as possible.
You also need to make sure the criteria’s as tight as possible. So, going back to the beginning with our hundred grand maximum, if we put that criteria up to one-twenty, one-fifty…we’ll be getting loads of listings that probably aren’t refurbishment projects. Not what we’re looking for.
Click property alerts and now if we go to my Rightmove, then alerts and searches, that’s the first template there. Or you can go to alerts and searches and just click on that. There you are, you can see the saved searches we’ve got listed.
We’ve got three bedroom houses, up to a hundred grand in Salford. You can change the alerts if you want to, you can delete it, and that’s really it. As simple as that. It’s just a case of spending some time setting it up and you’re off to go.
How To Find Your Next Flip Project
If you’re starting from scratch or once, twice a week you’re looking at new listings or new areas. You need to decide on a strategy, decide on criteria to search for. Then you need to know what you’re looking for with the pictures and in the descriptions.
Then you need to become a bit more systemised and streamlined and set up your alerts. Now, as we do (and it might be the same for yourself), if you’re looking at a number of different areas and your criteria is postcode specific then you need to set up a number of different alerts.
So, as another example, we also cover areas outside of Greater Manchester. We don’t just look at Salford but also keep an eye on Chester and Warrington, some other locations as well. WA5 is a postcode specifically within Warrington, so if I just show you again very quickly how we can set up the search.
We said three bedrooms, hundred thousand maximum, houses… click, find properties.
And we’ve got nineteen houses for sale that fit our potential criteria. We’d go down the list again, pick out the ones that fit the bill and add those to the list. But we don’t stop there, we’d also then set up a search.
Click create alert, get property alerts… and it’s quick and easy as that.
Now, if we go to my Rightmove, we should have two searches in there now. What I’d also do is do this for the other postcodes, so WA1, WA2, WA4 that type of thing.
Then, that way you can make sure you have a little bit more control over the things. For example,in WA5 we might only go up to a hundred thousand pounds. In WA1 we could go up to eighty thousand pounds or a hundred and twenty. It depends, but the general rule is that, like with everything else, you want to narrow the location criteria down as much as possible. Instead of just saying, for example, Warrington, or as we’ve done here Salford.
Pick out individual postcodes and keep the criteria tight.
There’s something important to note here with regard to what you need to know about your area and that is you need to know about how relative house prices work in that area.
There is too much to say on this subject to go into that here. If you don’t know how to work this out feel free to drop me a message or put a comment in at the bottom. I can link you up to some other videos and posts on this subject as well as some other useful stuff such as advice on how to pick an area to invest in.
Hopefully you found that helpful. The take home message is this. Find an area, focus your searches, build your alerts.
Find your properties in need to renovation and get out and start viewing.
If you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
Drop them in the comment section below the video, or if you wanted us to work together have a quick look at the services page where I run through the different services we offer.
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