As often seems to be the way, what I am intending to write fits into what is going on in the world. That hasn’t been particularly intentional, but I imagine shows how immersed property and business is in the world. To continue this trend, this week I am looking at technology and property. After last night’s announcement that we must stay indoors due to the Coronavirus, I am now staying indoors working from home and relying on technology.
The first thing I rely heavily on is online banking; each property has a bank account and I can easily check on rents coming in and make quick payments to contractors. With a set up like this, managing cash flow has become easier due to the speed at which transactions are processed. I have also found this useful for getting statements in order to provide mortgage lenders with proof of income and address.
I use the likes of skype, microsoft teams and whatsapp to communicate with agents and mortgage brokers. This has often meant that I can work in different countries and counties. I have also found that, for good or for bad, I can work on my property business nearly 24/7.
One of the best property tools has to be Rightmove, however, so few people use it to its full capabilities. It can almost be set up so that you passively search for properties. This can be done using alerts, so that you are informed when new properties come on the market that suit your criteria (price, size etc.) As we all know, the quality of property can change from street to street, there is a tool on rightmove where you can draw your target area, once you have done this you can set up an alert for any properties that meet your criteria within your target area. Why have I called this ‘passive’? It’s passive as you can set up the alerts and just leave them, you will then be informed if and when something comes up. I have provided a link to an excellent video below from inside liverpool.
Using Rightmove to its full capabilities is key, for instance using the ‘let agree’ or ‘sale agreed’ option on your searches. This will help you gauge how quickly properties are selling and renting, obviously for a Buy to Let (BTL), you would be hoping for a strong rental demand, and for a purchase you might hope for a slow sales market, however, in both cases, make sure you ask yourself why this might be.
On Rightmove there is an option of previously sold prices, this is a must view if you are buying a property. You need to make sure that the price you are offering/ paying is in line with (or better than) property prices that have sold recently, ideally in the last year. If you can do this, you are simply doing what the valuer is going to do when it comes to surveying and valuing your property. If you can find a property that has sold for under the comparable prices, then you know you are likely to have found a realistically priced property.
A good place to start is google maps, I strongly recommend that you do not rely on google maps alone, however, you can do a lot of the surface level checks of a property in order to save you wasting time booking a viewing to find out there is a sewage works (insert any other potential eyesore) next door. Using google maps can also help you identify the fundamentals of an area, are there good schools close by, transport links, employers and shops for instance? These are all things that will determine rental demand.
I would recommend using Viewber, there are varying levels of viewing packages and services they offer. I tend to use the most basic service which includes pictures and a brief write up on a property. The prices tend to start at about £40 and go up from there depending on the level of service you require.
Arguably the best use of technology in my opinion is education, there are so many free resources out there that take a number of different formats. For me, the main form of education I consume is via podcasts, these include Property Hub, Property Voice and Progressive Property. In my opinion, they all provide excellent free education. Their podcasts can be accessed via Spotify, Stitcher and many other podcast providers. If you prefer visual forms of education then you can use Youtube and again the same providers offer youtube channels. Finally, networking using forums such as Property Tribes and the Property Hub can help you engage with and learn from other property investors. During this time there is no better way to interact with people than online and a forum can provide this contact for you.
Storing and recording
Just before I sign off, this final use of technology has made my life a lot easier. I was taught by my father (who is also a property investor) to have a box file for each property, any paperwork for each respective property went into the box file. This worked but he has stacks of box files from over the years! Like father like son, I now have stacks of files, however, these are online files. I deal with most of my property portfolio over email and save the emails into folders within my email account, I then transfer these across to google docs. These files are then stored and categorised depending on which property they link to and which tax year they fall into. When it comes to the tax year end, I have all of the relevant documents in place ready to file my tax return.
There we go, it is nearly time to sign off. If you are wondering, have I ever bought a property using all these methods and doing everything from start to finish using technology to purchase and manage a property? The answer is ‘yes’, I did exactly all of these things when I purchased a property whilst living in Thailand. The only time I didn’t use technology was when I had to provide a ‘wet signature’ for the mortgage offer documents. This required a quick Uber taxi (it would be wouldn’t it) to the Post office!
If you have enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my book ‘Money lessons left at the school gate’, please follow the link if you would like to read the first three chapters for free.
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