I buy a lot of houses from the multiple listing service (MLS), which is where most homes that are for sale with real estate agents are listed. I happen to be a real estate agent/broker, which gives me a huge advantage when buying flips and rentals. Even if you aren’t an agent, you can still get great deals from the MLS, but you need to have a great agent working with you. Finding an investor-friendly real estate agent can be tough, but it helps when you know what to look for. What you think would make an agent great for investors may not actually be the traits to look out for.
Can you really get deals from the MLS?
First off, a lot of people talk about it being impossible to get deals on the MLS. It is not easy, but it is possible to find deals on the MLS in any market. I am located in Northern Colorado, which has had one of the hottest real estate markets in the country for the last seven years. I have seen record-low inventory on the MLS most of those years, yet was still able to purchase 13 properties from the MLS last year, most of those being flips.
When I talk to people who say there are no deals on the MLS, what they really mean is that they are not getting the deals they see. Other investors are beating them out or acting faster than they are. If you are not an agent, you need a really good one in your corner to help you get those deals and be the person who is beating others out.
What makes an agent investor-friendly?
A lot of people look for real estate agents who are investors or have experience investing. As an agent/broker who is also an investor, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you do not want me to be your real estate agent. Why?
• I will be direct competition for you. If a good deal comes up I am not calling my investor clients; I am trying to buy it myself.
• I am very busy and do not have time to work with investor clients.
• I do not want to create more competition for myself in my market.
Because of these reasons, many investor-brokers do not work with investors or really any clients at all. I refer almost everyone out to other agents in my office.
An investor-friendly agent is someone who is competent at their job, has time to focus on your needs and can act very quickly. In fact, the agent does not even need to have any investing experience or have a ton of real estate experience, either. Sometimes, new agents with a lot of time and drive are the best for investors.
Why doesn’t your agent need to know about investing?
A real estate agent’s job is not to teach you how to be an investor. In fact, that is a great way for investors to get themselves in trouble. There are so many resources out there for investors to learn about flipping, rentals or even wholesaling that they should not be relying on their agent. I would estimate that 90% of real estate agents do not know what it takes to flip a house or buy a good rental property — and those agents who do know are doing it themselves.
Investors should know what kind of property they are looking for and how the numbers should look, and they should be actively searching for properties themselves. The agent should be searching as well, but the investor should be able to tell the agent exactly what to search for. The investor should not be relying on the agent to find those deals. They should be relying on the agent to act fast, write the contract, know values and have great communication.
How do you know if you have found the right agent?
Do not be afraid to fire your agent if you do not think they are the right fit. However, you need to tell them this and be upfront. Real estate agents only get paid if they sell a house. Nothing is more frustrating to an agent than searching for houses, showing houses and then having a buyer use someone else to buy a house after they worked for free for weeks or even months. It is fine to try out an agent and then switch to someone else, but don’t waste anyone’s time by stringing them along. You should know if you and your agent are compatible after meeting them a couple of times.
• Do they call or show up on time?
• Do they return calls promptly?
• Do they know market values?
• Are they able to meet or show houses quickly?
• Do they know how to write a contract and know the answers to simple real estate questions?
• Are they working full time?
Buying houses from the MLS is not easy, but it is possible. It all starts with hiring the right real estate agent who may or may not know anything about real estate investing.