Real Estate 037: Home buying checklist

As I continue to scale my rental portfolio from one to over 20 units, I realized that having a system and process to perform all duties involved in a deal is crucial. Below is a home buying checklist that I personally using during the purchase of my rental properties. This is by no means an all exhaustive list, and some of these tasks may be done by other members of your team such as your agent or property manager, so please use it as a guide than a rule.

  • Get signed purchase & sale agreement from all parties.

  • Create physical and digital file folders for all documents.  

  • Contact title company to “open up escrow.” Our escrow agent’s name is: _________

  • Preliminary online tax research to verify tax amounts.

  • Check for hidden liens on the property at the courthouse.

  • Determine what names will be on title (LLC, partners, etc.)

  • Create lender presentation packet.

  • Talk to private lender about funding the deal. Present lender packet to them.

  • Get promissory note from private lender or prepare note and give to lender to review.

  • Send promissory note to title company.

  • Open new bookkeeping file in online bookkeeping software.

  • Call insurance agent and get quote. If it looks good – order insurance and get to Title/Escrow.

  • If tenanted, have all tenants sign Estoppel Agreement to verify rent & deposit amounts.

  • Hire 3rd party home inspector and schedule a time for them to inspect the home.  

  • Review home inspection report.

  • Call Title Company and verify we are set to close on the proposed closing date.

  • Call seller (if private seller) and reassure that we are still set to close on the proposed date.

  • Open bank account (if needed), order checks and debit card for that account.

  • Get Title Report from Lender, review (look for problems) and place in Property File.

  • Get wiring instructions from Title company and send to the private lender.

  • After wire was sent, verify wire was received by the Title Company.

  • If we are bringing cash to closing, call Title Company and get an exact amount.

  • Go to Bank and get any funds needed to close if we are bringing cash to closing.

  • Call Water, Garbage, and Electric company to get utilities turned on in our name.

  • Schedule time to sign papers at the Title Company. Sign papers at the Title Company.

  • Get keys for the property from Agent or homeowner.

  • If we are getting cash back at closing, pick up the check from Title Company.

  • Deposit repairs check into the checking account for this property.

  • Send handwritten thank-you notes to all parties involved (agents, escrow, seller, etc.).

As always, please make sure you do your due diligence and talk to your CPA/Attorney/Financial Adviser before making any investment decision.

Good luck!


Real Estate 028: Motivated Seller Questionnaire

A great way to build equity and rental portfolio in a competitive market is to find a motivated seller. A motivated seller is someone who doesn't want to sell, but needs to sell due to their personal circumstances (e.g. death, divorce, inheritance, debt, etc.). Chad Carson wrote on the BiggerPockets blog on the importance of hustle by sharing the following metaphor: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.“

Similarly to the lion or gazelle that is running, a savvy investor must be on the lookout for great deals through their marketing efforts in identifying motivated sellers. Once you have found a motivated seller through a lead generation software (e.g. bandit signs, flyers, postcards) or referrals from brokers or property managers, having a motivated seller questionnaire or intake script is useful for screening those leads. 

A big mistake made by newbie real estate investors is not being able to filter out the warm/hot leads from the cold leads and end up wasting valuable time with a person that will end up keeping their property.

Below is a list of information you want to document during the initial screening process:

Contact Information

  1. Full Name

  2. Phone number

  3. Address

  4. Spouse/Partner Name (if any)

  5. Email Address(es)

  6. Property Address for Sale

  7. How did you find us? (Used to understand marketing efforts)

These are the basic information you need to ensure that you can get in contact with the seller in case they hang up accidentally and to follow up periodically. Next you want to screen them for motivation for selling their property:


  1. Is property currently on the market?

  2. If yes, how long has it been listed?

  3. Why are you selling?

  4. Have you listed your home with a real estate agent?

  5. What is your plan if your house doesn't sell?

  6. Do you have any written offers yet?

  7. Who lives in the property right now?

  8. Are your mortgage/tax payments current? 

  9. Potential problem with co-owners? (Divorce, business, etc)

  10. Any known severe property damage?

  11. Other need for fast and immediate lump sums of money? How much?

These questions cut to the meat of why a motivated seller may decide to work directly with an investor rather than a conventional method of selling through the MLS with an agent. 

Property Details:

  1. Property style: (Single Family, 4plex, ranch style)

  2. Square footage

  3. Age of property

  4. Neighborhood Quality scale

  5. CapEx useful life (Roof, Foundation, HVAC, electrical, plumbing)

  6. Any other improvements needed?

These questions ask about the physical condition of the property and to a certain extent, the neighborhood. In most cases, the investor should already be knowledgeable about the surrounding areas and rough ARV to be able to quickly determine if the seller is in the ball park of an asking price. Motivated seller screening involves knowing how to ask open-ended and probing questions about the property, to get more accurate and time-saving answers. For example, instead of saying, "How is the roof? Good? Bad? Ugly?", you should ask instead, "When was the roof last replaced?"

Some landlords and property owners will call you assuming they can scam you into overpaying for their property. These people may become motivated sellers later on, but at the moment, they are not worth spending too much time with after the initial screening calls. 

Financial Data:

  1. Asking Price

  2. Mortgage loan balance and interest rate (Lender information)

  3. Any 2nd mortgage on property? (HELOCs, Loans)

  4. Mortgage loan terms and conditions

  5. Are there any other liens or debts on your properties?

  6. How much rent per month? Request rent rolls (if rental property)

  7. Any non-rental income from property? (laundry, pets)

  8. Any HOA (Homeowner's Association) fees? How much are HOA payments

  9. How much is monthly PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance) payment?

  10. Utilities costs (Gas, Electric, Water) for the past 6 months (Statements)

In conclusion, using a motivated seller questionnaire can help guide your interview process, and gives you a framework to make the screening as conversational as possible.  This information will help you determine the best way to structure this deal (wholesale, lease option, seller finance, or cash purchase) for a flip or rehab and long term hold. Using the information on this page, investors should be able to work out win-win solutions for your sellers and yourself.

As always, please make sure you do your due diligence and talk to your CPA/Attorney/Financial Adviser before making any investment decision.

Good luck!