The internet and modern technology have connected us in ways we never could have imagined. As such, they’ve changed the way that we live and how we do business. In the world of real estate investing, they’ve changed not only how we do business but where we need to be in order to do it. No longer do you need to either invest locally or make on-site visits to the places where you’re looking to invest. Today, real estate investors can easily invest from anywhere and still have working knowledge and an expert understanding of a property hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Here are some of the ways how technology allows you to invest in real estate from anywhere in the world.
One of the easiest and most obvious tools at a virtual real estate investor’s disposal is e-signature software. There are often dozens of different contracts, agreements, legal documents, and back forms that need to be signed by multiple parties. Rather than faxing them back and forth after every signature, e-signature tools give you the ability to gather up signatures concurrently and easily. Plus, it alerts you when a document has been signed or if a further signature is needed so you’re able to follow up. It’ll even alert you to an upcoming expiration date so you can move into action if needed.
DocuSign is routinely considered the most popular e-signature tool out there but depending on your level of necessary security and features there are plenty others to consider as well. RightSignature, Dotloop, and HelloSign are other popular tools to consider. All of them have their own free and paid offerings, each at different price points, so make sure you do your research to figure out which one works best for your needs.
Online Property Finding Tools
Have you ever tried to figure out where the good real estate investment properties are in another area yourself? It’s a process that takes hours, even days, especially if you’re also trying to figure out local prices, rental figures, and return on investment potential. And then, depending on whether or not you’re looking to invest in traditional or short-term (Airbnb) properties, that adds another layer. Now imagine there was a tool out there that could do all that work for you so don’t have to spend days researching online or buying a plane ticket so you can do the door-to-door searching. It exists! And you’ve got plenty of good options to choose from.
Mashvisor is one such online property finding tool. They compile all of the data and, with the real estate investor in mind, are able to provide you with the necessary information, including what your potential return could be. They give you not only a snapshot view but also a detailed understanding of neighborhoods, short-term rental density, and potential cash-on-cash returns. You can also find some of this information at traditional real estate engines such as Zillow and Trulia but each property listing may or may not be geared towards your needs.
Tenant Screening Tools
Operating real estate property from afar means you’re going to have to lean on tools and services to help fill in the gaps created by your physical absence. There’s only so much you can do as a virtual landlord, especially when it comes to rental properties. That’s why tenant screening tools are so critical.
There are so many tenant screening tools worth considering. Obviously, tenant background check services are vital for any landlord or investor, let alone a virtual one. MyRental is considered a great overall value based on all of the features it includes. RentPrep provides the added value of live screeners who can get further information when needed. TurboTenant offers an all-in-one platform that makes the entire rental process easy. There are plenty more, just make sure you figure out which one fits your budget and also provides all the services you need.
There are also tenant screening services who are specific to countries or regions, which means they’ll be able to understand local data and specifics more than a general company. If you’re dealing with an international or unique market, consider looking for a screening service who understands it. The last thing you want to do is get involved in a foreign property and get tripped up on local customs and processes, costing you money and devaluing your assets.
Property Management Software
Depending on the type of property you’re investing in, you’re probably going to need a specific type of service to help you manage it virtually. Whether you’re investing in an apartment complex, rental unit, student housing, or short-term Airbnb rental, there is property management software out there specific to your needs.
AppFolio Property Manager is one such service that tailors its cloud-based property management software to the specific kind of property that you run. Through their service, you can post rental ads, accept online applications, screen residents, collect rent, and even perform inspections via phone. They also provide reports and an owners portal to streamline all the information for you.
Buildium is a similar property management software that can make life much easier for the virtual property investor. Not only do they help you manage the rental and tenant process but they also monitor your business expenses alongside property expenses to give you a clearer picture of how your investment is doing. They also offer a slew of additional features that make life easier for you and make the rental process completely automated on all ends.
Both systems provide competitive value but ultimately it depends on your situation to determine which might work better for you. Buildium tends to work best with smaller properties while AppFolio likely fits better with mid-sized and larger outfits. However, AppFolio’s base price ($250/month) is much higher than Buildium’s ($45/month), so you’ll have to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth either way.
The advancement of digital technology has allowed us to take businesses that at one time were strictly face to face, and make them virtual. Real estate investors can now invest in any market around the globe with the use of these tools.