Many people find it shocking that 99.9% of our clients never actually see the rental houses we sell them.
We get it. When you put it like that, it does make us sound a little like snake oil vendors with a bridge in Brooklyn we’d like to sell you.
But that’s a mischaracterization. What we do is make it easy for busy professionals to invest in booming markets — even if they live far away.
So how do you confirm a rental property exists without ever seeing it? Actually, it’s simple. Here are some ways to do it.
With Google Maps, you can zoom in on any property in the United States and gather a wealth of information. First things first — you can see that there is actually a building there.
But you can go further by using the Google Maps area-calculation tool to measure the area of the lot, as well as the enclosed area of the structure. This can go a long way towards validating the reported square footage of the building — unless you have been told that an addition was built. More on that later.
Google Street View
The genius of Google Street View is that it can drop you right into faraway neighborhoods, so you can look at the property on your computer screen.
The downside is that the Street View photography may be out of date, especially if the home was recently renovated. But you can at least confirm that there was a house there at the time of photography, as well as snoop around the neighborhood to get a sense of it.
Zillow has listings of nearly every home in America — for sale or not for sale. Again, the pictures and details might not reflect recent renovations, but you can at least use it to corroborate certain aspects of the listing.
Property Tax Assessment
Property tax assessments are a matter of public record. You can usually look them up online. The assessment will include basic details about the property, as well as the county appraiser’s most recent assessment of its value — both land and improvements.
If the property has been renovated and/or had an addition built, there should be permits. Ask the seller or reach out to the city construction authority to validate those permits. If possible, you can request proof that the work was completed, as well as the contractor’s final pictures.
Your insurance agent will do some basic research on the property to provide you a quote. If the property doesn’t exist, it is likely to come up here.
Customer Testimonials & References
In these days of customer satisfaction indexes and ratings, if the seller is a company, chances are they have an online reputation. Do a little research and see what you can find and don’t be shy to ask for references.
Boots on the Ground
Even if you are not local, you can always recruit or hire people who are local to do some snooping and take some pictures. Good prospects include local realtors, bird dogs, handymen, or people you hire on platforms like Craigslist or Upwork.
Be judicious about the trustworthiness of your third-party boots on the ground, but at the very least they have little to gain by duping you.
The due diligence process offers multiple opportunities for verification — even from afar. Many professionals involved in the sale transaction will visit the property during the due diligence — professionals whose job and reputation are at stake if they deal falsely.
If you plan to take out a mortgage loan for the purchase, an appraiser will visit the property and assess its value, including any improvements, additions, or renovations. You may choose to hire a home inspector to walk the property for the physical due diligence. Finally, trying to sell a non-existent house will raise many red flags in the title work.
The truth is, you have many ways to buy real estate with confidence, even if you never see it with your own eyes. MartelTurnkey is here to help every step of the way. Want to build your real estate empire the easy way? Call us today!