I am asked this question a lot. Is marketing to absentee owners after Covid-19 still a good marketing strategy? I have to say that I think it is and here’s why. You’ve probably heard me say this before that “time and circumstances change all things”. And as we all know, Covid-19 has changed a lot of things. Owners that previously weren’t motivated sellers, may be very motivated to sell now. However, there are some things to consider especially when buying tenant occupied properties.
It’s Always About Motivation
Think about a typical absentee owner before the pandemic. What was their level of motivation?
- Not at all motivated
- Thinking about selling but not doing anything about it
- Getting really fed up with being a long-distance landlord but still not taking any steps
- Planning to sell in the next few years when…. (You fill in the blanks.)
Up until Covid-19 interrupted our world things were pretty good for out of state absentee owners. Home prices were great. The inventory in most places was low so that continued to drive prices up. It wasn’t unusual for homeowners to get multiple offers on a property.
This is still true for many sellers today when it comes to their personal residence and their locally owned rental property. It’s also true for some absentee owners that have tenants that are paying their rent every month. Forget about adding “paying their rent on time every month”. If they’re paying, that’s good enough.
Let’s talk about marketing to the other group. The ones that aren’t so lucky.
Marketing to Absentee Owners that Aren’t that Lucky
As you can probably guess, there are a lot of buys and hold landlords across the country that haven’t been getting all their rent since this mess started. In most cases that would be since March. Some landlords have gotten some of the rent, some initially got all or most of their rent then it stopped, while other tenants lost their jobs and couldn’t pay at all. Many of these same tenants didn’t qualify for any assistance. Those tenants just stopped paying, but they continued living in the property.
Initially, everyone thought that this situation was going to last a couple of months. Then everything got extended a few more months. As of today, we are looking at the beginning of 2021 at the very earliest to see real change for landlords. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if it was the summer of 2021 before things were back to normal.
Landlords Have Been Hit Hard
With the Cares Act and the eviction ban extended until the end of 2020, a lot of landlords are panicked. They are worried about losing their properties. Some are scraping by and have been able to make the mortgage payments at least in the short term. But there are many more that can’t pay the mortgage without the rent each month.
There is also a ban on foreclosures so for now, the banks can’t foreclose on your property. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a whole lot of panicked buy and hold investors out there.
How Motivated are Absentee Owners Today?
In many cases, they are very motivated to sell the property.
I talked to one buy and hold investor the other day. He told me they were able to make the mortgage payments for a few more months, then all their savings would be gone. When that happened, they could no longer make future mortgage payments and they would have no savings (which was terrifying for them). What if one of them lost their jobs? They could be facing financial ruin.
Another investor told me that she had taken the path of applying for forbearance on her properties since she couldn’t make the payments herself. That gives her a temporary reprieve. However, she had no idea what she would do when forbearance ended and she had to pay the entire balance.
A third scenario is where the property owners are in some type of severe financial distress themselves. This might be due to job loss or illness from Covid-19. This scenario is one where in addition to owning a rental property where the tenants aren’t able to pay rent, they are struggling personally.
Should You Buy These Properties?
The short answer is maybe. That’s going to depend on you and your particular financial situation.
There are going to be some good deals out there. However, you need to look at the big picture before making the decision to buy one of these properties. You need to know if you can weather the storm financially if you buy a property that has existing tenants that can’t pay the rent for an unknown period-of-time. Ask yourself if it makes sense for you to do this. Is it still a good deal 12 months from now? The answer may be yes.
Here are 4 questions you should ask the seller about the tenants:
- Are the tenants paying rent?
- Have they paid every month? You want to know what their payment history is since Covid-19.
- Were they behind on the rent before the pandemic?
- Can you provide me with proof of payment? (The answer must be yes). Ask for a rent roll for any properties you are considering.
3 Questions to ask the current owner:
- Are you current on your mortgage payments? If not, how far behind are you? Once again, you will need proof before signing on the dotted line on a sales and purchase contract.
- Did you apply for a forbearance? If so, when was that?
- What is the total amount needed to bring the mortgage current?
This will tell you if you can put together a deal that makes financial sense for you.
If you have a situation where the homeowner hasn’t been paying the mortgage and a tenant that isn’t paying the rent, then you have some decisions to make. If the price is low enough, you may still have smoking, hot deal.
Final thoughts on Marketing to Absentee Owners after Covid-19
As time goes on, many people in financial distress will conclude that their number one priority is saving their credit and/or their personal residence rather than their rental property. There will be buy and hold landlords just looking for a way out. Once the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures is lifted it’s going to be the wild, wild west in real estate.
If you can buy a distressed property that makes sense for you, then it can be a time of wealth building. One thing I am sure of is that investors will find a lot of opportunities in the next 12-18 months. This is especially true for rental properties that are vacant where you can choose your own tenant.
Let me know your thoughts on this topic. What do you think the future of real estate investing looks like?
Quick Start Marketing Plan Template
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How to Get Better Results Marketing to Absentee Owners
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