The hottest real estate in the investment market available today is bank owned properties. Compared to the many other strategies of investment, like probates, short sales, subject to and so on, bank owned properties aka REO (Real Estate Owned) offers the lowest cost in the acquisition phase.
A quick search of real estate comps with your InvestorCompsOnline access and you can find the information necessary to determine whether you have a deal or a dud. You can usually buy at around 50 to 60% of current market value with little negotiation, and you can go lower if you become a bit more expert at making offers fast.
Actually, the really good deals are gone in a matter of days and therefore you will have to make it a habit to make an offer BEFORE you go and look at the property. You can usually ask for an inspection period of 5 days so you can always cancel your offer when you do visit the property.
Of course you shouldn’t make a habit of canceling every offer otherwise Realtors won’t work with you any more. Keep in mind you have to go through Realtors to present the offer to the bank. My advice is to be considerate in making the offer. Never bid more than 82% of the asking price as a start and better yet try to stay on the 40 – 50% of the after repair value.