This list is so long, I won't even preface it with an article. Go ahead and dive right in.
- BiggerPockets - If you're going to invest from abroad, chances are you'll need some type of connections with people in the area you want to invest, either real estate agents, property managers, partners, etc. A great way to build those networks, and maybe your first step after you decide on what type of investing you want to do, is through BiggerPockets.
Looking at properties and learning about neighborhoods
- Zillow - See what houses are "worth" in the neighborhood.
- Trulia - Gives you information about crime / neighborhood.
- Yahoo! Real Estate
Checking out crime in an area
- Also try googling "local crime + [AREA]" - You might be able to get newspaper articles that discuss local crime.
Finding out what people are paying for rent in an area
- Craiglist (mentioned most by real estate investors that I've listened to) - Google "Craiglist + [AREA]" (e.g., Craigslist Jacksonville Florida).
- Zillow (Can search for 'rentals' in an area.) - Also, if you look at the "Property History" for a rental, often you can see how long it was 'listed for rent' before it was rented out. This can give you a sense of Vacancy Rate (how long a property is empty in a year - national average = 10%)
- BiggerPockets | The ultimate guide to fair market rents
Checking out schools in an area
- GreatSchools - If you want to buy in a great school district to protect your property price long term, I'd recommend you also call the school just to double-check that the correct school is listed for the property address. I've seen mistakes on sites like Zillow, Redfin, etc.
Large scale demographics and macro trends
- The Demand Institute - There's a special summary of a $20K report that they offer for free
- City-Data - Tells you about the population of an area / major industries, etc
- BiggerPockets | Step one when buying out-of-state: Forget the houses and study the market
- The Census Bureau
- Also you can google questions like:
- Articles by Allison Leung of BiggerPockets
- BiggerPockets | Market trends, news & commentary
- Google My Maps - Create a custom "real estate map" in which you pin any house you look at and add notes. Click here for a BiggerPockets article explaining how this can be achieved done.
(Please be aware that I don't endorse any of these as I haven't worked with them. So, make sure to do your due diligence.)
- Mid South Home Buyers (Paul, a member of the Seoul Real Estate Investing Meetup, has mentioned them and has used them in the past)
- Hipster Investments (Ali Boone has been very helpful and great about answering questions, etc. I met her through BP, but I haven't done any deals with her company.)
- JasonHartman - Has a free podcast that talks a lot about demographics. If you attend any of his seminars, you'll probably be upsold to some product. But you can check out his properties and see how he evaluates the financials.
- RealData - Mortgage constants, compound interest factors, etc. (free downloads)
- FannieMae | Selling Guide - Most likely, your loan will be "packaged and sold" to FannieMae. Here are the guidelines a bank must follow to sell to FannieMae. It includes information on p. 356 for dealing with foreign earned income, which you might have to explain to a loan officer / loan underwriter. If you qualify for the 2555 Foreign Income Exemption, your income tax statement basically reads "$0" earned (or a lower amount because of the $98K exemption) and banks might not understand that.
- IRS | Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income - Information on Form 2555
- Zillow - For any house you find, you can also get information on what a mortgage might cost.
Diving deeper (appraisals, taxes, property owner background checks)
Look for County Assessor or County Appraiser for an area that you are looking to buy houses in ("farm area")
Here's an example from Duval County, Jacksonville, Florida - Some areas have a lot of info online and makes it easier to do this type of research: http://apps.coj.net/p...
This will tell you what the property is listed as according to the county. If the property is different than the listing, then there's a chance there was unpermitted construction don - not necessarily a deal breaker, but good to know.
You can also look at "Public Records" for the county you are interested in: http://oncore.duvalcl...
(I've done this to find out a little more information about who's selling the property. It might not yield actionable results, but sometimes, it's cool to know. Also, you might be able to look up civil and criminal complaints about a property owner. I've also used this to find out information about tenants.)
You can also use Facebook to find out information about people.
Management and productivity tools
All of these are free but some also have paid versions:
- Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, and Slides) - Like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) but completely online and free. You can share a file with someone else so that you can work together on it. You need a gmail account.
- Skype or Google Hangout - To communicate with people easily (and freely) overseas through video chatting
- Asana - To create work projects and share with others. Up to 11 people can collaborate on a workspace for free
- Simple "to do" list makers:
- Evernote - A very powerful tool to keep track of lots of information in your life (takes a while to get the hang of)
- Unroll.Me - I sign up for a bunch of sites, and sometimes my inbox will be flooded with
"articles," etc. This free service gathers together these types of emails and presents them to you as a single email once a day.
- 1-2-3 Flip - If you're interested in learning more about flipping (This blog by J Scott has tons of examples of flips he's done, including pictures, and a breakdown of the work) His book, listed below, is a great resource as well.
Some books that you might find helpful
These are not affiliate links (I don't receive a commission from any sales); just books that I've either read or heard good things about. Just press the title, and you'll be taken to a place to find out more about the book.
- For property management:
- Landlording on Autopilot (I haven't read but from many other comments from experienced landlords, this is the one book to read.)
- To understand how to look at real estate through a "financial lens"
- What every real estate investor needs to know about cash flow... And 36 other key financial measures
- To understand flipping and rehabbing and how much it costs to fix things in a house
- The book on flipping houses
- The book on estimating rehab costs
- BiggerPockets | Diary of new construction project - A free .pdf file that documents one of JScott's New Builds from laying the foundation to marketing the property.
- General books about real estate investing
- Rich dad, poor dad (to understand the basic idea about why investing works - a classic)
- ABCs of real estate investing (Geared more toward large, multifamily investing.)
- Buy it, rent it, profit (Detailed breakdown of multifamily investing, with forms included)
- The Book on investing in real estate with no (and low) money Down: Real life strategies for investing in real estate using other people's money (I haven't read it - Brandon Turner's book - from our January meetup.)
- Getting things done / productivity
- The one thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results (Great book if you're the type of person who seems to be doing too many things at one time.)
- The 12 week year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months (I haven't read it, but I downloaded some of the worksheets, and I use the same philosophy in goal setting.)
- General Business
- The e-myth revisited (About the need to create systems in your business so that it runs on its own as opposed to a "job" where you're in charge and the business it can't run without you.)
Do you have other suggestions? I'm sure you do! Add them in the comments.