Investing Strategy – Doing Due Diligence on a Prospective Investment

You may have seen a couple of deals that we put through this week, we have had an amazing response of interest in these! It was fantastic to see so many people wanting to get more information. I did get asked a lot, that people wanted to do their due diligence and ensure the deals were good, but were not sure how to go about this.

There are a few key things to look at when analysing a deal to ensure that it would be a good fit for your portfolio. And remember, each of these criteria, and the importance of each is different for ever investor. One of the most important things you need to identify first is your “Risk Profile”. This is what level of risk in any investment are you comfortable with based on the return available. With any form of investing there is always some level of risk and each investor is happy with a particular level. Those that invested in crypto-currencies recently for instance, have a relatively high risk profile (that is they understand the risk is higher, but happy to take on board that risk given the rewards could be very high) and some have done well in this area. Others with lower risk profiles would look more towards blue-chip shares or real estate as lower risk investments. Even within each category there are various levels of risk. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer here, it is simply identifying what your risk profile is, so that you can ensure not to over reach yourself and get involved in a particular investment that is beyond your risk profile. If you want help to determine this, give us a call, we go through all this in our strategy sessions as well!

OK, so once you have determined your risk profile, there are a couple of key areas to analyse and ensure a deal is a “good” one for your risk profile:

1. Actual Return on Investment (ROI) after costs

I think always the first thing we should always look at is what is the estimated return we will get from the deal after costs are taken into account. This is essentially “running the numbers”. Confirming the costs and profits on the deals can be relatively easy, and I will run through a couple of strategies to determine this in the next few points. But we need to ensure that the return we are likely to see, conservatively, matches our risk profile and the risk of the deal. Don’t forget to take into account costs that may not be on any feasibility analysis – like vacancy rates, possible applicable taxes, and interest on loans if you are borrowing money to make the deal happen

2. Determining Comparable Prices

Comparables are one of the most popular way to determine the market value of a property. It is used in most real estate markets world-wide and the process is essentially the same. Look at what other properties are on the market for, and more more importantly, have recently sold for, in the same area of comparable standard (same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, similar size, same neighbourhood etc). In the US though, one other factor plays a huge part in comparables, and that is condition.

In Australia, we would generally see that most properties are of a similar standard, particularly in the cities and metro areas. In a number of areas of the US, the condition of the houses may vary so much as to have a dramatic impact on the price of the home. A particular home might be fully renovated to very high standard and be selling for $125,000.00. Next door the house might be gutted inside and need complete remodelling and be on the market or sold for $12,500.00.

This does not mean that the more expensive home is not worth $125K nor does it mean the “tear-down” is a steal at $12.5K either so be careful to ensure that you are taking into account the “condition” of each of your comparable properties. Websites that can be good for this are Zillow ( and Trulia ( but make sure also to look only a properties sold or on the market recently.

It can also be a good idea to look up in google a realtor that works in that area, and have a chat to them about the neighbourhood and get their thoughts on comparables. Bear in mind they may try to sell you other properties though too, so best to keep the discussion general as they may run down your possible purchase to try and sell you one of theirs instead.

3. Region demographics and area

Trulia (web address above) is also a good website as it can also give some regions demographic data. You can look at crime rates of the area relative to the surrounding districts; the median age of the households; average education level; average income level; percentage of owner occupiers vs renters etc.

All good data to review to ensure the area you are investing in, you are comfortable with. Remember, this is a region your are likely never to set foot in, so it it good to be comfortable with the demographics of the area. It can also be a good idea to search the address on Google maps and even scroll right down to street level and “walk” the streets some.

Make sure the property is not across the road from a factory, or refuse centre etc.

4. Rental rates and vacancies

Understanding the rental rates for an area is as important as determining the market value as this is the “profit” that the property will give you as a rental option. There is a website for US property rentals called Rentometer ( which is great in helping to determine what a property may rent for and other valuable data. The particular property you might be looking to purchase may already be rented, but its still important to understand the market rental value, in case your tenant was to leave, to make sure you can get the same rent return again, or is it possible to increase the rental return. This website reviews all properties within the neighbourhood of similar size and number of bedrooms, bathrooms etc to give you the average rent. Again you need to take into account condition. If your property is fully renovated to a high standard it is quite likely that you can get higher than average rent.

By also looking at the numbers of property currently available for rent in your area, and the length of time the rentals have been on the market, you can get an idea of vacancy. If the particular area in question has many many properties available and days on market for rent is 30+ or more on average, this can show a poor rental area. If there are only a few available, and days on market is low, this can indicate a better area. You can also look up in google a property manager that works in the area your are looking to purchase in and have a chat to them. They should give you a pretty honest appraisal of the region.

As we discussed earlier, if all these options are still good based on your risk profile, that can indicate it could be a good deal for you. If you are not comfortable with any of these areas, then might be worth looking around for another deal that suits your profile better. Remember, there is no such thing as THE deal. There is always another and never fall in love with any particular one, just analyse the numbers and determine your comfort level.

If your looking at starting or adding to your investment portfolio and would like to discuss options and strategies, or want help to determine your Risk Profile, book a call with us today!