Efficient Tools for Remotely Creating a Real Estate Empire
Updated: Feb 5, 2019
As a high income professional who truly enjoys going to work each day and creating awesome technology, my approach to real estate investing is different from most people out there. Many people are using real estate to get out of their 9-to-5 and become their own boss. Don't get me wrong; that is absolutely awesome, but I am coming from a different perspective for several reasons:
I love my job. I get to work on some of the world's most cutting edge technology and produce awesome products for people worldwide while also working with some of the brightest minds on the planet here in Silicon Valley. I currently work at Skydio and worked previously at Boosted Boards (see videos below), working on some pretty awesome technology:
My job provides high income that I would not be able to replace even with a considerably large real estate portfolio (at least for a while)
I have substantial equity (in the form of options) in various companies that require me to stay in order to vest and see where the company goes in terms of liquidation events.
Efficiency is therefore the name of the game, and as a software engineer, I look to automate and establish systems through technology to optimize my time while maximizing my profits through scalable processes.
Here is a list of how I maximize my time while still taking advantage of the power of real estate investment. Most of these recommendations come from the mindset of spending a bit more money to maximize time and, ultimately in the long run, returns.
Set Up An LLC
Just do it. In most states, it is a pretty simple and inexpensive process. An LLC allows you to borrow from hard money lenders and also provides a great way to consolidate all of your real estate "business" purchases under one entity. This saves time around tax season when you need to untangle the huge web of paper trails and maximize your tax savings. It also provides a bit of asset protection, although it is not recommended to rely on the LLC alone for protection. Seek legal counsel for more info.
Hire A Property Management Group
I do not have the time to nor would I ever want to manage my tenants. Some people like to squeeze every penny out of the property by managing it themselves. I think that although it can save you a bit of money it is ultimately a waste of time because it is not scalable (unless you are a property manager yourself but I'm referring to your own properties here). I am happy to pay someone else to manage my property once I have vetted them properly and obtained references. There are advantages and disadvantages to using a local group versus a national group. National groups tend to have great pricing discounts on services/parts and can provide discounts in managing multiple properties across the country. Local groups can offer a better approach to the market strategy (i.e. nail down better rents, provide you with good leads, find better tenants, etc) and if your properties are all local to that area, you can still end up taking advantage of economies of scale.
Wave Accounting Software
Wave is an awesome free accounting tool that I use. Even though I'm just getting started in my real estate career, I plan on keeping good accounting from the start to eliminate headaches later and to maximize tax returns. This will ultimately save me time and prevent me from tracking expenses in a spreadsheet or trying to retroactively do it around tax time. The tool has a very simple app that allows you to add in expense/income easy and connects directly with your bank account so it can automatically itemize expenses in real time.
Online Property Management Portal
There are quite a few property management tools out there. Make sure you can accept electronic payments, track leases, track property management line items and keep track of rent roll. Most of the time this will be dictated by the property management group you are using, but make sure they use an easy-to-use software tool as part of your vetting process.
Esri Business Analyst
Affordable and powerful analyst tool for location-based market intelligence Esri Analyst. Great for analyzing a new market you are looking to invest in.
I use Google drive to create all of my underwriting spreadsheets as well as to have a cloud based storage for all of my businesses important documents and tools.
RehabValuator is a free tool that helps me quickly underwrite a deal. I created my own spreadsheets for my deals before finding this tool and was pleased to find that it took into account all of the things that I had added into my own tool that I created. That definitely makes me feel more confident that I'm doing things right, but if you don't already have your own tool, this one is great.
Listen to Podcasts or Audio Books
I can basically attribute 90% of my real estate knowledge to listening to a handful of powerful podcasts, and I did all of that learning during time that would normally have been wasted. I spent about a year or so doing this before finally jumping into my first deal and now I'm "off to the races". Audio learning allows you to take back time that was normally sunk and learn a ton during that time (for example, I listen to about 2+ podcasts a day during my commute that I previously was using to just listen to music). My favorite podcasts are:
Calendly is one of my favorite tools. It is a free scheduling tool that connects seamlessly to all of your calendars. It allows you to provide a link that let's others pick and schedule meetings with you during times that you are available. It then adds the meeting to your schedule and notifies you. This is one of my biggest time savers since I can simply send people a link instead of the back and forth on trying to figure out a time that works for everyone.
Outsource Outsource Outsource
Outsource as much as you can. For example, I outsourced my business website and logo creation (still under construction) through sites such as fiverr.com. I find the areas that I should not be directing my time towards and pay a very reasonable price to avoid them and invest my time in areas of higher return.
Use a Virtual Assistant
This involves hiring a virtual assistant to handle day to day items that are not key business decisions. I currently don't use this technique yet, but I imagine with a few more properties this will be a huge time saver for me that will more than pay for itself.