Being constantly on the go is of crucial importance in real estate investing. If you want to be not simply a real estate investor but a successful one, you have to keep moving – to check out properties, to meet sellers, to check on tenants, to pay the plumber, to file taxes, to attend a meeting of the real estate investors association, to close a deal, to visit the bank, etc. And while on the go, you always have to keep your eyes open for new properties, for new contacts, for new potential partners, and so on and so forth. To help you in this highly dynamic lifestyle, you will need a lot of tools and gadgets to remain sane and to be SUCCESSFUL. After all, you don’t want to realize you don’t have a business card when meeting a potential creditor or you are missing your camera when you see a property for sale. Thus, we have prepared a list of what every real estate investor needs to keep in his/her car at all times.
First, we start out our list of what every real estate investor needs to keep in the car with the more traditional, basic items:
- Pens/Pencils or whatever else you like to write with
This might sound too obvious, but just try to remember how many things you had nothing to write with when you needed to jot down a phone number or a name or an address. Too many, right? Well, don’t ever repeat this mistake again. Always make sure to have a couple of pens or pencils stocked up in your car.
- Paper Pads
What every real estate investor needs in order to write down some important information in addition to a pen/pencil is… paper. Buy some paper pad or clipboard that is comfortable for you to use. Don’t put yourself in weird situations where you have to write something essential for your business on a napkin or an old ticket.
- Business Cards
Well, actually you need to have those in your pockets or wallet at all times so that you can conveniently hand them out to new people in real estate investing that you meet. However, business cards have the tendency to finish without you noticing. So, make sure you have an extra pack in your car for when you run out of them.
- Blank Contracts
As a real estate investor, you always want to have some copies of the contracts that you normally use – both for purchasing rental properties and for renting out income properties to tenants. Don’t risk missing on an opportunity just because you didn’t have a blank contract with you.
- Tape Measure
What every real estate investor needs to keep within an easy reach is a tape measure or any other tool for measuring. This will be extremely useful when checking out a new property that you consider buying, when planning on remodeling a house, or when furnishing a rental property.
This one might sound redundant, but since we are talking about tools that you as a real estate investor want to keep in your car – and not to carry with yourself all the time – there is no problem in adding this one too to your real estate investing gear. After all, you might end up visiting a property that has power outage or you may want to check out some hidden corner of the house that you are thinking about investing in.
After we’ve gone over the more conservative tools, let’s see what every real estate investor needs to have in the car in terms of more high-tech appliances:
- Digital Camera
What every real estate investor needs is also a digital camera. There are so many ways in which you use your camera as a real estate investor. Obviously, you want to take pictures when you go to see a property that you are interested in buying. In this way, you don’t have to write down or remember everything about the property – you just take a picture of it. Also, later on, you can use the photos to compare this property to others. Second, you need to take pictures of a property that you want to fix and/or furnish to have the exact styles and colors when you go shopping for paints or furniture. Third, you need pictures to make a portfolio of your rental properties and to post listings. In addition, when driving by a house marked for sale, you can just snap a photo of the contact information along with the property itself instead of writing down the phone number and the name of the person selling it and then having no idea what the actual property looked like.
Unless you are really great at math, make sure you have a calculator – even a basic one – at your disposal. When considering a new property, you will need to make some quick calculations, including multiplication and division of large numbers. So, just make yourself a favor and bring a calculator.
Many would argue that’s not a must, but it really depends on your situation. If you are the kind of person who lives/invests in a large city, who goes for out-of-state real estate investing, and who is simply bad at directions, you must supply yourself with a GPS. This will save you a lot of time and energy by preventing you from getting lost. Moreover, you will not risk being late for an important meeting just because you don’t know where you are and how to get to the place of your meeting.
- Smart Phone
A smart phone is the next answer to the question what every real estate investor needs to have all the time. Actually, it’s hard to imagine how people did real estate investing before there were smart phones although it was just a few years ago, right? Having a smart phone with all the relevant applications can replace the need for a digital camera, a calculator, and a GPS as it will feature these and many more useful apps. The things that we do on our phones as real estate investors are just too many to list – talk to sellers, talk to tenants, talk to property managers, talk to maintenance people, talk to partners, calculate returns, take pictures, look at listings on Trulia or Zillow, use apps, etc.
What every real estate investor needs is also a set of headphones or a handsfree. Real estate investors make and receive a lot of phone calls, and inevitably a lot of these will be when driving. For your own safety, for the safety of others, and for avoiding a fine, make sure you keep this in your car. You will use it all the time!
- Mileage Log
What every real estate investor needs is to keep track of any expense that can be tax deductable, regardless of whether real estate investing is a part-time or a full-time job. That means that you as a real estate investor will need a log to keep track of the miles that you drive to see properties, meet sellers, visit tenants, and so on. While you can use a paper mileage log, having some sort of high-tech app to do the job for you will prove much more convenient.
Well, one last answer to the question what every real estate investor needs – though not necessarily in his/her car – is to check out Mashvisor for various metrics and analytics on thousands of properties around the US.
So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced expert in real estate investing, make yourself a huge favor by putting together these essentials and placing them in your car before you head out to your next property hunt. Depending on the size and model of your car, you can either leave them in the glove compartment or in a (shoe) box under the car seat.