This extension examines Redfin listing pages and shows a pop-up with a deal analysis, including cash-on-cash return.
Anytime you find yourself repeatedly researching and copying numbers, you should ask yourself if this $5 per hour data-entry labor can be outsourced or automated.
The BiggerPockets community often advises investors to analyze a lot of deals when getting started. While BiggerPockets has a great suite of analytical tools that allow you to compute property metrics and print custom reports for money lenders or partners, many of them require you to fill out one blank field after another for the property that you're analyzing—price, income streams, mortgage information, closing costs, fixed expenses and variable expenses. This hardly feels like the ideal path to analyzing a lot of deals.
The Property Listing Analyzer (the Analyzer) is a free, lightweight tool that I built to quickly screen deals. It is currently limited to Redfin listings, but it has the potential to save a ton of time on deal analysis. Before you dive deep into $5 per hour data-entry labor, see if a property is even worth your precious time.
**How It Works**
After installing the Analyzer, navigate to any Redfin listing page and click the extension's icon in your toolbar to activate it. It will examine the listing page and analyze the potential deal.
Why Redfin? Amongst the big listing sites such as Redfin, Realtor.com, and Zillow, Redfin has some of the best real estate data and is known to most closely resemble the MLS. It is also updated every 10 minutes. You can read more about Redfin's dedication to data quality here.
Despite this amazing amount of data, it can be a bit overwhelming to parse and extract the pieces that you need to plug into analytical tools. The Analyzer does this for you and only takes the data that matters to quickly analyze the deal. For example, the Analyzer automatically populates current rent, property taxes, HOA dues, as well as insurance and mortgage payment estimates. Additionally, variable expenses such as property management and capital expenditures are given a default percentage that is customizable. It hates blank fields almost as much as you do. Of course, Redfin has a ton of other information available for the evaluation of a listing's appreciation, school district or Walk Score if the property is worth a second look.
Not all listings provide current rent for the Analyzer to work with. Or, current rent is provided, but you'd like to turn a dining room into a bedroom and increase the rent. In either case, you can quickly tweak any part of the deal's values and the results tab will update with a new analysis. You can even adjust the price and see what value works for you to make a reasonable cash-on-cash return. If your browser closes, don't worry—any changes you make for the listing you are viewing will be saved.
**Analyze 5x the Number of Deals**
The Analyzer takes the mind-numbing task of data entry out of the equation. You won’t need to copy over property taxes or look-up current interest rates, Redfin has already done that for you. Most likely, you will only need to estimate the income and ensure that expense estimates look reasonable and, if you're up-to-date on average rents in the neighborhood, a deal analysis could take less than a minute. That's 10 deals in 10 minutes. If your typical online calculator takes 5 minutes, those same 10 deals could take you 50 minutes.
Accelerating your deal analysis rate enables you to screen deals faster and hone in on properties that deserve a second look. With the time that the Analyzer saves, you could spend more time on the properties that are really worth your efforts. Looking at more deals also gives you a better understanding of patterns in the area you’re analyzing. You may quickly see that the property taxes in an area really hold it back from giving good deals or that you need to make lower offers in that area to compensate.
**Room for Improvement**
The Analyzer isn't a replacement for your spreadsheets or BiggerPockets' analytical tools. It acts as a first-look deal screener.
Here are a few shortcomings/room for growth:
* The Analyzer doesn't provide analysis past the first year. This version focuses on cash-on-cash return and capitalization rate. Metrics such as IRR are not available.
* The Analyzer doesn't automatically populate rent estimates based on comps when Redfin listings are missing current rent data. It would be helpful if the Analyzer provided a best guess to save the user a step.
* The Analyzer doesn’t have the capability to prepare a report with custom branding for money lenders or partners. Fortunately, BiggerPockets already has tools that do this quite well for when you want to move forward with a deal.
**Scrutinize Your Workflow**
I love taking classic workflows and building tools to make their time footprints disappear. Outside of my day job at Microsoft Excel, I've worked on projects ranging from a Benjamin Graham/Joel Greenblatt automated stock picker to transcription software that utilized IBM Watson's voice recognition. It's difficult to imagine what is possible until you get the right mindset. If you're ever repeating yourself and feel like you're doing data-entry labor, it's time to think about how software might help. Well-tested software can perform tasks like data aggregation and entry much faster and less error-prone than humans.
As a novice to the real estate investment world, I saw the Analyzer as my first opportunity to improve traditional workflows. I welcome you to try it now and give me feedback or ideas for new tools!