For many real estate professionals, few things are more valuable than the ability to identify and generate leads. Which hot properties will next hit the market, and how can you beat the competition and earn top commissions?
One way to gain an edge is to monitor trustee sales, those properties where the owner has fallen behind on his or her mortgage payments; the property lands in foreclosure; and, eventually, is offered for auction by the lender who holds the deed.
It’s a less sexy field of real estate, for sure. But in most states, auctions are held weekly and sales are final. If you are a real estate agent or investor who knows how to navigate the maze of data compiled and filed by county assessors, title companies, legal newspapers, and court records, you can find, acquire, and resell distressed properties, potentially earning a decent income along the way.
Helping real estate investors find such deals is the thinking behind Property Genius, a company led by co-founders Jason Bryant, a real estate professional with nearly 20 years of industry experience, and Brandon Bazemore, a technologist and the CEO of Audian, a software-based telecommunications company in Kirkland. In 2013, the pair launched myrealtyhub.com, a leading “white-label” foreclosure tool that, according to Bryant and Bazemore, has been sold to large real estate companies and foreclosure auction brokers, and is used by more than 5,000 real estate agents and investors across the Pacific Northwest.
In 2017, Bryant and Bazemore began to build a research platform to help individual real estate agents and investors find off-market and wholesale real estate opportunities. Using $1.5 million from investors and their own finances, the pair launched Property Genius in September.
“We wanted to make (Property Genius) more than just a tool for a niche portion of the market,” said Bryant during an interview in the company’s office near I-405 in Kirkland. “There are so many more Realtors and investors who also are looking to find sellers before they hit the MLS.”
The Property Genius website, which exists on Amazon Web Services’ Cloud platform, is simple enough that no advanced knowledge of the industry is required. A dashboard displays the week’s foreclosures for a chosen county and offers the timeliest information on the status of each property. Is the pending foreclosure active or postponed? Has it reverted to the lender, or has it been called off entirely? With a few mouse clicks, Property Genius answers these questions.
For active foreclosures, information such as the trustee and the sale number, estimated debt of the foreclosing loan, minimum bid, and even the property’s Zillow “Zestimate” is one click away. Similarly, a “ZRatio” tool automatically calculates the property’s “Zestimate” against the outstanding debt on that property. The higher the ratio, the more appealing the property is to investors and real estate agents.
Google Maps and Street View are built into the platform, which also mines Big Data compiled by the county assessor’s office to display specs on the property (acreage, age, and square footage of the home, etc.). But if you want to visit the property firsthand, Property Genius offers an inspection report widget that allows you to take notes on the overall condition and even attach photos taken on your smart phone or tablet.
“We created our entire system to keep real estate professionals engaged with countless sellers and increase (their) profits,” added Bazemore. “There really hasn’t been a tool that combines all of these features and modern functionality in once place until now.”
According to Bryant and Bazemore, unique to Property Genius’ approach is that the platform tracks every foreclosure in real time through the entire process, not just when the property is listed.
The site’s Customer Relationship Management tool ties leads and opportunities to the properties you are looking at, and also allows for customized statuses, task management with reminders, and real estate-specific functionality.
“Part of the focus of Property Genius is to eliminate all of those redundancies so that all of your notes, photos, inspection reports, uploaded documents — everything — is in one place, and everybody saves a lot of time,” said Bryant.
When the company launched, it started out by tracking foreclosures and other distressed properties in Colorado’s five largest counties. It plans to expand to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Washington state over the next two years.
Property Genius subscribers pay between $49.95 and $79.95 per month depending on the level of service; that fee includes unlimited access to all of the company’s growing database of states and counties.
“From pre-foreclosure through auction, our goal is straightforward: to simplify real estate investment research through easy access to reliable, accurate data that helps turn searches into profitable investments,” said Bryant. “I believe that we built the best foreclosure platform that exists.”