8 Websites With Easy Jobs And Guaranteed Payments To Make Money Online In Your Free Time

If you want to earn extra cash whether just to pay for something like your Netflix subscription or maybe save and accumulate to make a decent amount over time, then this post will direct you to 8 different websites where you can make money online in your free time by doing the simplest of tasks.

In my quest to achieve financial freedom while having no day job at the same time, I tend to always be searching for different ways to make money. One of those ways is to make money online doing some short tasks like taking a survey or testing an app or months-long projects like auditing social media feeds or search results quality.

I have tried so many websites and jobs and many of them are not really worth wasting your time on, but there are a few that I really loved because they either provided easy tasks or the money was good, and then there are a few that I haven’t tried yet, however, I only read positive things about them from people who tried them.

So in this post you will read about 8 easy and legitimate ways you can make money online in your free time.


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1. Appen

This is the best among any online job website I have used so far.

Appen is an online crowdsourcing marketplace that companies and businesses hire to get certain tasks done. Appen offers these tasks as available jobs on their website. You apply to the job that you are qualified for and wait for an acceptance email.

Requirements to work with Appen

When you receive your first job offer you will be asked to provide a scanned copy of your ID, driving license, or passport as a form of identifying your identity.

You will also need to set up an account with Payoneer to be able to receive your payments.

Jobs on Appen

On Appen, you can search for jobs by type of job or by location or both, to be able to find something suitable that you qualify for.

They have a verity of jobs you can apply to including translation, search results quality rating, social media evaluation, app testing, transcription and more. And there are jobs available for most countries.

Many of the jobs will require that you study certain material/guidelines to follow throughout the project. Some jobs will require you to take a certain test or more than one test to see if you qualify for the job and/or test your knowledge after you have studied the guidelines.

Once you passed the tests and got accepted for the job, you are sent an email with the details of job, which website/programs you will need to complete it and other general guidelines.

However, you wouldn’t necessarily find jobs all the time, not sure about other countries, but projects in Egypt are not available all the time, sometimes there is a lot of work available and other times there is nothing.

But once you have signed up with them, they send you emails whenever there is a job opportunity available that you would qualify for.

Appen Customer support

One of the things I like about Appen is that they have very helpful customer service and technical support, since each project has different requirements and works with different programs, so you may run into difficulties from time to time and you would need help fixing whatever error or problem you’re facing so you don’t miss your hours. But I have always received a quick response from them.

And in the worst case scenario where a problem occurs and prevents you from completing your job in time, you can log that day/hour as technical or the available equivalent, as long as you have already contacted them and filed a ticket.

Pay rate and working hours on Appen

Pay rates on Appen hugely differ based on the job you take on. The tasks I have worked on were anywhere between $1 per hour and $6 per hour.

I am sure that there are tasks that pay you more than this rate because I know people who made more than this per hour. However, I wouldn’t be able to know the exact pay rates for other jobs because, in most cases, you only know the rate once you are accepted for the job.

There are projects that require a certain number of hours per day, ranging between 1 and 4 hours, and/or certain number of days per week, ranging between 5 and 7 days.

And there are other projects that you can just do them whenever you have the time (usually with a deadline though).

You can find the available jobs on Appen and apply to them here.

2. MTurk

MTurk or Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing marketplace much like Appen. They deal with businesses that has certain tasks/jobs that can be done remotely and connect these tasks to workers all over the world.

It is also one of the good online job websites I tried.

Requirements to work with MTurk

The procedure to start working for MTurk is a little bit more complicated than the other websites on this list as they require you to fill a tax form. You can learn more about this here.

The other difference here is that with MTurk you are only paid money if you are a US resident, otherwise your incentive would be in vouchers (Amazon gift cards).

Unless they find you eligible and you have a US bank account where you can withdraw your money, then you can get paid and you can withdraw that money to your local bank account. (And I still can’t figure out why websites add this as an option. If I live in another continent, why would I have a bank account in the US, seriously?). 

Jobs on MTurk

I worked on this website a few years back, and they have different types of tasks including data entry, editing, translation, transcription, surveys, and more.

The ones I used to work on were either research surveys (which in most cases were VERY long, but I had plenty of free time), content writing, or transcription tasks.

There are available jobs almost all the time on MTurk. You go to the All HITs tab to see all the available jobs at the moment and if you qualify for a job, you will find an option to accept it. If you don’t qualify it will usually mention the reason why you don’t qualify

You can sort the available jobs by the highest paying, the recently added, or the HIT rate required.

Usually going for the recently added jobs is the better way to go, especially for surveys, because if it has been added for a while they may already have gathered the data they need for the job.

Job qualification on MTurk

There is one important thing when accepting jobs on MTurk though, it is that with every job you accept, you will need to make sure that you finish the job as efficiently as you can, because when you are done with your task, it is submitted for review by the person/business that submitted the job.

If your results were rejected, you obviously won’t get paid for the job. But that’s not all, your acceptance and rejection rate is counted and can reflect on the type of jobs you would qualify for in the future.

Many of the jobs would require a high HIT approval rate which is a percentage of the answers/results you submitted that got accepted divided by all the jobs you submitted.

One other thing is every task has a deadline. So when you accept a task, you will need to finish it before the deadline which can vary from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the type of the task.

If you don’t finish the job in time, it is automatically withdrawn and added back to the queue for someone else to work on it.

While it’s not a big deal if you missed the deadline once or twice, they still count the rate between the jobs you accepted and those that got submitted. So if you keep accepting jobs and not finishing them, this will hurt your HIT submission rate.

And just like the case with the HIT approval rate, some jobs may have a requirement that you have a certain percentage to qualify for the job.

Pay rate on MTurk

Unlike Appen, on MTurk you can clearly see how much a task would pay before accepting it.

Of the jobs I worked on, surveys were probably the least rewarding, unless you’re lucky enough and you qualify for some $15 survey.

The rate for the jobs hugely vary though, I have seen tasks ranging anywhere between $0.01 and $25. There could be tasks that pay more than this but this is the amount I have seen during the time I worked on the website.

Sign up to work with MTurk here.

3. Lionbridge

This one is my least favourite, despite it being generally a good website with decent payments.

But because the tasks I used to qualify for were usually rating quality scores or locating areas on maps, and it was probably one of the most boring things I have ever done, but it did pay a good amount per hour, so if you need to make money while sat on your couch, you’ll do it.

This is just my personal experience though based on what jobs were available for my country, but Lionbridge has more jobs than this.

Jobs on Lionbridge

The available jobs on Lionbridge include translation, social media evaluation, interpretation, quality score rating, and more.

There is only a selected number of countries in Europe, America and Asia that has available jobs though. While jobs in African countries don’t seem to be available much recently. This is the current list of countries with available jobs.

When you select your country, it will give you a list of the available jobs for it and you can then pick the one you want to work on to fill an application. You will then receive an email with instructions and details of the job.

The tasks I applied for, like Appen, also required studying a certain guideline and passing a test before I can start working.

Pay rate on Lionbridge

Lionbridge’s rates are probably the best among the online job websites on this list, you can get paid $14-$16 per hour. However, some jobs would per task and the payment will entirely depend on the type of tasks and the country too.

Similar to Appen, Lionbridge does not disclose the pay rate for a job publicly, however, in their communications during the recruitment process, they notify you with all details including your pay rate.

4. Viewpoint Panel

I haven’t had much luck with survey sites in general, and of all the ones I signed up to, this one is the only one that sends me surveys frequently.

When you sign up with them, you fill in a personal survey to complete your profile with all your interests, some personal habits of yours, and some info about your life and your family, so they can send you the types of surveys that are actually suited for you. Because surveys usually target a specific group of people within a certain age or that have certain habits.

There are surveys available for several countries across Africa, America, Australia, Europe, and Asia, unlike many other websites that only provide surveys for a specific country/region.

Some surveys are short and some are a bit long, however, the longer ones tend to have higher rewards most of the time.

They send you an email once there is a survey available for you and in the email it mentions how much you will be paid for the survey so you can decide whether to take it or not.

The one downside to this website is that if you are not quick enough to take the survey, and by quick I mean in the span of 1-2 hours and sometimes less, it would probably already be completed. This is why I haven’t been able to make much money through it, because I’m almost always late.

Pay rate on Viewpoint Panel

Rewards can vary between $0.60 to $4 per survey. I haven’t received any survey that was lower or higher than this threshold, however, on the website they mention that you can get up to $10 per survey.

It is still a pretty small amount, I know; but you don’t spend much time on the surveys and also the money adds up. So, if you are already free, it wouldn’t hurt to make use of that time and add a few cents or dollars to your account.

The minimum threshold to transfer your money is $12.50, and they provide two options to redeem your earnings, either through Paypal or G-Codes (vouchers).

You can sign up to viewpoint panel here.

5. AppTrailers

This one is the easiest on the list. It’s like making money online for almost doing nothing.

This is an app that pays you for watching videos of app trailers. With each video you watch, you earn points and when points accumulate, you can then have them exchanged for gift cards for things like Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks and Google Play.

I haven’t went through the redeeming points process because I was bummed to know that it doesn’t work here, so I can watch videos and play games on the app but won’t be able to redeem those points for anything.

I really wish I could find a similar app that works here though, because this would be just free money! It is great if you’re like me and already buy iTunes credit or use Starbucks, you can earn points so you can get that stuff for free.

This app is available on both Apple store and Google play.

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Other suggestions to make money online

I asked people on Twitter if they have suggestions based on their experience taking online jobs. And some of them provided good suggestions.

6. Opinion Outpost

This is a survey website that was recommended by Alia and Mars when asked about the websites they found most rewarding and legitimate of all the ones they’ve used.

Alia said that she usually got paid within 15-20 days if she was consistent in taking surveys everyday. And Mars also said she got paid the quickest on this one through Paypal.

When you sign up to Opinion Outpost, they will email you surveys and each one you complete you earn points, you can then exchange these points in the form of cash payment or gift cards.

This one is available in selected countries only, Egypt was not among them so I couldn’t try it out and see how good it is.

7. Ipsos

Ipsos is a website that has multiple opportunities to make money including working as a mystery shopper, taking part in surveys, or becoming an interviewer. Alia also mentioned this website among the ones she finds most rewarding and uses it for taking surveys.

The survey platform is called i-Say and thankfully it is available for countries in the MENA region among other countries too. And they have an app for both iOS and Android devices.

I signed up for it, and it looks promising. You earn points between 5 and 100 for each survey you take. Once you have earned enough points, you can then exchange the points for gift cards/e-vouchers.

They also offer something else that I found quite interesting.

Each member who clicks on a survey link, whether completes the survey or gets screened out for not matching clients’ needs, or due to the quota being full, is automatically entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a gift voucher for a specific amount of money. And they pick one winner every month.

When I accessed the website I was directed to the Egyptian version, so I found vouchers for shops here in Egypt, and prizes that they offer are in EGP. So the type of vouchers and amount of prizes will differ based on which country you are accessing it from.

8. Ebates

There’s another way to make money online which is to shop on websites that give you cash back offers on your purchased items.

This website was recommended by Marissa McDaniel. She says that among all the online tasks she’s tried to make more money, the website that she benefited from the most and found to be more rewarding was Ebates and other similar websites.

This may count more as saving money than it is making money, however, this eventually leads to you having more money in your wallet, so it gives the same end-result.

Ebates provides up to 40% cash back and you can shop from more than 2,500 shops on their website and app. They send out payments quarterly, and you can have your cash sent to you through Paypal or a check to your address. There is also an option to have it sent to your bank account by entering your credit card details, but that is only for US residents.

You also get a welcome bonus by joining them and spending $25 within the first 90 days. Click here to join.

If you know of other reliable and legitimate websites to make money online, please share them in the comments.

Till next week, happy days!

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No Spend Challenge: How To Pay Off Your Debts And Start Saving Money

If you want to save money to start an investment but you never seem to have enough money at the end of the month; or if you have a debt and are struggling to make the payments in time or just wish to get out of that debt fast then this challenge is for you. A guest post by The Mini Smallholder.

The No Spend Challenge came to us when we desperately needed a solution to debt and bad health. You can try to get back on top of finances, but if you struggle to regain control this will really suit you.

We had been spending our money mindlessly and never having any extra money, no matter our wages. The No Spend Challenge is a short sharp shock for your bank balance.

A challenge which has led us to take back control and start to look at other ways to make money, save money, and reduce our reliance on our income from our full time jobs.

So a big thank you to Ray for asking me to write a little something about our experiences so far. I hope to show you all the reality of our challenge and how it has worked for us.


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What is the No Spend Challenge?

You commit to your regular monthly payments. Maintain your rent, mortgage, and all household bills and credit card repayments.

The challenge, however, involves all of those other extra expenses: A latte here and a doughnut there, or even worse, a new skirt for work –because its for work so it doesn’t count!

These are all expenses that we can find hard to face up to. By stopping them completely for a week, month, or even a year, it can help pause the spending without any guilt or blame. For me the little things, like gifts for friends, add up so quickly.

This is the financial equivalent of a detox. I recognize that I enjoy spending money, as do most of society. It is what we have been programmed to do.

So when it is a baby shower or birthday, how do you avoid spending money? For me it has always been an excuse to spend on others, well not anymore!

Why did we start the No Spend Challenge?

We started because of an accident which resulted in us being a lot less self-sufficient and not having the money to pay someone else to help out.

This was a shock as we both work full time and have no children. Rather than start pointing fingers or keeping all receipts for a month, we needed something that would help. The No Spend Challenge, for us, works as a financial cleanse.

You can easily get into all sorts of arguments once you start looking at who is to blame. I know my husband can be bad with money, but if we loo had gotten in to as well! So I would rather us both go cold turkey than blame each other.

What are the No Spend Challenge rules?

We set our own rules, as should you! So in discussion with your partner or children work out what will work for you all. Simple rules for us are:

  1. No eating or drinking out; go prepared when leaving the house, take drinks and any food needed.
  2. Reuse what we already have; if we need anything new we can wait and see if a friend or family member has one we can borrow
  3. We spend money on experiences for the children in our family and not actual ‘things’ –this was heavily negotiated.
  4. Look to reduce our transport costs by lift sharing, public transport, or bike riding, where possible, but we still have to get to work!
  5. No new clothes, make up, or shoes etc. This rule applies to our entire year long challenge, but we are ok with second-hand charity shop type options.
    If you are an online shopper check out this shop, but remember pop into the basket and then come back to it later to see if you still want to buy it!

How do you stay motivated through the No Spend Challenge?

  • By telling friends and family and joining a community of others, we are able to commit ourselves more fully!
  • Set a goal for the saved money. We have our goal of buying a smallholding and are working towards that in our day to day life.
  • Reading an article like this one from Michelle McGagh has really helped us to keep focused.
  • I even had the chance to give an interview for BBC Radio 4 You and Yours Programme on the subject of the No Spend Challenge! You can listen to the full interview for inspiration here at the 26 minute mark.
  • Online communities are fantastic for finding ideas. And we use this Facebook group to bounce ideas and tips around (zero waste no or low spend ideas).

We hope to keep scouring freecycle and facebook groups for equipment which needs a little tweak or that can be repurposed. It has transformed our life and our opportunities.

If this sounds like an option for you, check out all the support you can find online, and then think about forming a local group, meeting in your local library as a free venue!

What are some unexpected hurdles we faced through the challenge?

Gifts for friends and family

As mentioned above my gift giving is out of control. I had to redefine what being generous meant to me.

As we earned more so I gave more lavish presents. This hen puts pressure on the recipient, and they feel obliged to spend an equal amount. So this is how consumerism works is it? Well I then realized I could reverse this all.

I love to make my own crafts. Be it cushions, rugs, blankets, those sort of things. Then I also enjoy growing my own plants from seeds. Plus, the hubby is very good at baking. So we decided to make homemade hampers for friends. Or grow plants for very little outlay.

This is the one most sustainable element I think we have included. As when we started to give plants we would have to purchase the seeds –this time next year we will have harvested them from this years flowers!

We even made 200 heart shaped, bright pink wedding favours. This is to replace a wedding list gift. They are seed paper and the bride had a very special wish list for her seed paper. She has a very romantic story involving Brussel Sprouts (trust me on this one!) and so we have made another 200 green pieces of seed paper with their peas in to be planted by keen wedding guests!

I have been taking cuttings from friends plants as well and propagating them ready for gifts for the new year! We hope to put together homemade hampers for Christmas presents and that way we will be able to reduce our costs.

We spend more time for our friends and family now than we did before and I think that takes a lot of the pressure off from your finances, but on to you. This can be why we used to take the short cut of buying something and posting it, or worse paying for next day delivery.

You will need to plan ahead! No more last minute days out, forgotten birthdays. All of that has to be factored in and worked out.

However, so many friends understand when you can’t just put £10 into the leaving present. I have even taken it upon myself to arrange a baby shower so that my gift could be a rose from our garden and cupcakes for everyone who attended. This meant the cost was minimal and it did not hit our purse.

Friends coming over

Friends who come round and we get takeaway? Do you have those friends? They are really picky eaters and therefore we always give in and get a takeaway.

They don’t have any financial issues as they live with parents and are happy with their debts. We just struggled to make a few people see our point of view.

So, now we sadly see less of them. But I think seeing friends shouldn’t cost money. We respect that they don’t mind being in debt, but they can’t support our plans to not be.

It would have been easy to have made an exception for them, but that was the purpose of the No Spend Challenge. To see who supported us and who tried to bring us back to zero savings.

How has the No Spend Challenge affected our life so far?

Immediate financial benefits

Savings

Obviously we had money left over at the end of each month. This has caused so much weight to be lifted from my shoulders. I think that by not spending every time you are prompted to, it resets your relationship with money.

I think the mindless spending had to stop and this was our way to do it. No fuss, just axe it all. Then we could have the conversations about money in a more positive light.

We now have Premium bonds as savings so that we can put money to one side for emergencies, but have  chance of it increasing in value as well.

It is so hard to not sounds stupid when I say that by not spending we have more money. I think we just didn’t stop to assess where that money was going and if it represented good value.

If you have children who attend various paid-for after school activities, now is the time to ask if they would rather that money went somewhere else. Even if giving up swimming means they can do more camping with scouts.

It is a great way to see what they really enjoy. We didn’t give ultimatums but just a choice. You may not want to change what the kids do, but apply this principal to yourselves. If you decide to go for longer than a month, it can be a real bonus to the bank balance.

We were able to save enough in the first 6 weeks to have our fence fitted for us. This was the ultimate freedom as the accident had caused us to rely on others. There is always a cost attached to that!

So, we managed to save around £1,600. We really cut everything off though and I think that no travel costs due to being off ill helped out massively!

We have now managed to start a regular savings pot of around a third of our household income each month. Which is really awful to say that in the past we couldn’t account for that money.

Debt

We started the challenge with an interest free credit card which was fully loaded to around £3,000 and with the interest free period running out shortly.

This challenge meant we faced up to when this repayment window would close and when we would need to repay the amount.

We had four months and no savings to dip into to pay it off. So by going cold turkey and cutting all extras out we were able to pay it off within the limit, so no interest charged at all.

A real relief. And facing the debt once we had a plan in place was a lot easier than before.

Learn 5 more ways to help you pay off your debt fast!

Hidden benefits

More time together

Such a cliché I know, but when you have less to spend, you find more inventive ways to have fun. We had funny home cinema nights with popcorn disasters, re-watching older movies can be fun!

We found a lot more in our local area. Free events, free cinema even, and lots of walks and favourite parks.

Remembering to bring a picnic was a lot of fun as well!

Zero waste

I have found that we suffered under a myth that going green would be more expensive. Now we are making savings by making our own green replacements.

I think that we are now expanding our savings into areas we thought were more ‘fixed.’ Now we look for green alternatives which will save us money.

Some of them require a slightly larger initial investment and that is where the No Spend Challenge has helped. It has allowed us to be able to afford large ticket items, like a sewing machine. Now I make and repair our clothes and bedding. As well as gifts for others. Some really fun projects have come from this money saving challenge.

Other zero waste examples:

  • I have made us a scourer pad from garden twine, total cost around 15p.
  • We have swapped to an eco egg for laundry, total cost £5 for around 1,000 washes!
  • We have also swapped out cling film and plastic bags in the kitchen for beeswax wraps we have made.
  • I am making some baby bibs at the moment for a gift and I love that they are much more personal!
  • We also made a bird house from a teapot, one of my absolutely greatest achievements!
No spend challenge how to get out of debt and start saving money. On Pinterest.
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People’s reaction to the No Spend Challenge

What I will say though, is other peoples reactions has surprised me the most. I work in a very corporate environment and everyone buys lunch, tea, coffee whatever! It wasn’t until I worked out that the act of getting to work and eating/drinking was costing around £8 per day easily that we all stopped and thought about it.

One lunch time I opened up my packed lunch expecting to be met with giggles, but mine was actually the nicest looking lunch there. Then when I explained the challenge people really got onboard.

Lots of people had questions and things they didn’t think they could do without. But overall we worked together and supported each other.

My family have been great. I don’t think my husband and I really spoke too much about long term goals before we started the challenge. Now we plan and have a good idea of what we need. How we are going to get what we need seems a lot clearer and we are working on our plans.

Final thought

If you need to put a pause button on your finances, this is the best way to start. Then look to pay off your debts and start saving towards your goal!

We didn’t prepare for it in anyway as it came as a bit of a solution to an emergency. Some people do like to prepare, but you can be tempted to buy new things!

For any more tips please do pop on across to our site.

About The Mini Smallholder:

We are setting out to trial all of the techniques we will need on our smallholding, but on a small scale. Trying to see if going green is a viable alternative and if the good life really is that good!
The zero waste solutions tie in with our intended lifestyle but we never realized how powerful the No Spend Challenge would be.
We are enjoying moving in the right direction and this is very much a journey.

Real Estate Investing: Buying, Flipping, and Renting (A Realtor Experience)

If you’re interested in investing in real estate but not quite sure how to go about it, how to choose the right house, how to flip or choose the tenants to rent to, in this guest post, by Erin Goddard, you will find the answers to all this and more.

I am honored to be a guest on Ray’s blog. This is something very special, but I can only hope to be as helpful as Ray.

I hope to offer some ideas on the great potential investing in real estate can be through our experiences of flipping and renting out homes. I do believe we have had successes, done mistakes, and learned a lot that are all worth sharing.


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Our Background

My husband and I started a small business in the real estate market in the beginning of 2016.  It is a relatively new endeavor to us, but in that time we have bought a total of 6 homes: 3 of them we turned into rentals, and 3 of them we flipped.

We also sold the first home we ever bought and owned to move when my husband changed jobs and relocated. So far, we have learned that no experience has been the same and the learning experiences in each process have been great, as in massive, but also good.

I was a math teacher with very little construction knowledge. My husband was an environment compliance manager at the time we started, so he also had an unrelated job. He, however, did have finish carpentry experience, plumbing experience, and roofing experience from past jobs and working with family members in these fields.

How to find the right real estate property for investment

To buy a home at a low cost is ideal obviously. This takes a lot of time searching, establishing good connections, and sometimes having plain old luck.

The Search

MLS feeds

Multiple Listing Services are the networks real estate agents in regions of each state link into to post the listings they have. Companies like Zillow and Auction will connect all of these regional networks nationwide.

Zillow and Realtor are what we use. I am afraid we have not ventured outside of these two.

Realtor does update its MLS feeds more often. This allows you to see the listings go up a little quicker and also the statuses change.

The various filters on Zillow, like looking at the maps, comparing costs, looking at tax histories, all make Zillow a little more user friendly. We constantly would be surfing and checking into these sites.

Sheriff sales

Sheriff sale schedules can be found on county websites. The sheriff sales are homes in foreclosure that the lender has handed over to the county to try to sell. On the sheriff sale site, there will be a time and location (often the courthouse), and it is an auction where the house goes to the highest bidder.

Buyers do not necessarily get to see or know the condition of the house. There is usually a reserve price (a starting bid), and the home tends to be sold in “As Is” condition. The risk, of course, is not knowing the conditions of the home, unless you have snooped around it- which I confess, I encourage.

Be aware of  the “As Is” contract. In most contracts, the home comes with disclosures. The contract between buyer and seller is based on the agreement of the truths of the disclosures.

If the roof is leaky, and the seller lied, there are legal means the buyer can get out of the contract. Not in an “As Is” contract.

Our experience with buying through a sheriff sale was great. The reserve price/starting bids sometimes are surprisingly high, but those we just walked away from.

The homes eventually go up for auction again for another opportunity to buy at a lower reserve. Keep an eye on them. Go in with a set price you want and try not to budge.

Auction.com

This is an interesting company which I compare to ebay for houses. Sometimes Zillow will link to an Auction file for a home. These again are bank repossessions.

The fine print really needs to be read for these homes because sometimes the foreclosure process is not as far along as you would hope. Closing could take a long time, and may not close at all..

Banks go to Auction.com to try to get a sale on their homes. These run the same risks as the sheriff sales with the “As Is” conditions.  

I registered for a user name, and it was very easy to do. I also easily placed a bid. Four days later, after no one upped my bid, we won, and I was kind of in shock in the fact I had clicked a few buttons, and now we had bought a house. So, this was easy to use.. Almost too easy.

Auction had people contact me right away. Communication was very quick and also helpful. I would say Auction had good customer support, but they are an even more distant third person seller than a sheriff sale.

The one hiccup we had was the abstract never came to us. We ended up having to pay for getting a new one made. Abstracts run between $1000- $2000. Still, overall I would say our experience with Auction was very good.

Connections

Getting in touch with the real estate agents in your area can really save time on the searching; however, one thing to know is often times real estate agents already have a calling list of established real estate investor; be persistent!

Call and politely inquire. Really present yourself as someone ready to renovate or invest. If you can get a trustworthy, strong relationship with a real estate agent, that really sets you up for more success in the search.

Luck

Sometimes after all of that time, nothing will show up. Sometimes, it really just takes a little luck and good timing.

Learn how to choose the right property for investment.

How to start investing in rental properties

Something we heard repeatedly as we looked into renting properties was screen your tenants.

The quality of tenants can make a world of difference in the experience and the profit of your real estate. You must be careful to be fair, however; and it is illegal to deny tenants for reasons related to sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc…

We did applications for our tenants. Applications serve a lot of purpose. You have the right to know who will be living in your property and the potential tenant can show their initiative and a bit of their character by fully completing an application.

You need fair rules for your screening. Check your state for laws on being a landlord.

When it comes to screening tenants, I would say of the most important things to include on the application would be information about the following:

  1. Criminal record: look into their records. I suggest state online court records. I also suggest looking at facebook.
  2. Work history: Look for steady employment.
  3. References: Call the references. You could even have something for the references to fill out.

You want responsible, respectful, and financially able tenants.

Eforms have tweakable applications for free and can be downloaded as a word or PDF file.

Are rental properties a good investment?

We purchased two rentals at about the same time a year into the start of our small real estate business. After a successful renovation and sale of our first flip, we rolled the profit we got into two low cost homes.

They have been doing great for us in bringing a nice stream of income. We have had good relationships with our tenants, low maintenance requirements, and a steady stream of income.

I highly recommend rental properties as a fairly  passive income. We continue to be on the search to add more rentals to our binder, and will be happy to move on the right property.

The pros of investing in rental properties

1. Doesn’t require A giant capital

You are usually not looking for ritzy and glamorous homes. For the rentals we have, we never went in to transform them; we cleaned them. That’s it. Rentals are a good starter up project for passive income in real estate.

2. Passive income

With good screening practices, there should notbe a lot of the hands on stress of maintaining a good property with good tenants.

I do not think I need to say how great passive money is. Really we are just sitting back from a month to month basis, and we have an investment which is an asset to our financial folder bringing in income.

Again, assuming you have good renters, the property is for the most part maintaining itself. The home is truly an investment, growing in value with the market under the care of the renters and a little bit of your overseeing.

The steady monthly income is not huge after considering costs, but it is better than nothing. It is a $450 check a month in our hands that offset any of the costs, so we are losing nothing and coming out ahead.

3. A double money maker

After the home has provided affordable living for the rentee, and brought in a nice income for the renter, it can be brought up to date for resale.

Whether you have met the break even point or not through the renting period, the home can bring in a profit should you decide to sell.

The cons of investing in rental properties

1. Money gets tied up

Money gets tied up specially if you have a mortgage on the rental. I almost said a steady trickle of income above in the pros. The costs of mortgage, taxes, and insurance, not to mention maintenance, take away from a strong flow.

Make sure to do the math that you are coming out ahead. This is a slow and steady journey to break even, and your money is not as fluid to roll into other investments.

As an example, we have one rental we put $4000 down on. Based on our carrying costs and the rental amount, it will be about two years for us to break even on it.

2. Renter drama

We have not experienced renter drama. We have been fortunate to have great people renting. I’d like to say we did a good job screening.

But even with screening, tenants can go wild and thing can get legally ugly. The time taken to meet your renter’s needs and establish a respectful relationship is so worth the while.

3. Property damages

Things break. My husband has done some dryer troubleshooting. We have had to buy a new refrigerator all of a sudden. There has also been hail storms where we had to deal with a lot of insurance and hiring for repairs.

The responsibility as landlords to the tenants can cause for some sudden stress.

How to get started in the flipping houses business

We had a first dream flip that started us out. There was a little luck involved. We found a home that had been sitting on Auction. It was a first flip home in consideration, so we were kind of weary of Auction.

The auction ended having not met the reserve. Now, most times, the homes go right back up and through another “auction.” We did not know this and called a local real estate agent. It just so happened, the bank had listed it with a real estate agent specializing in foreclosures, and we called the day she got it.

We ended up with it. Here are some of the before and afters.

It was a mess, but we got it for very low. Again, this price will be trivial because it totally depends on the city you are buying in, but we landed this home for $27,500.

After you think you have found a good house- low in price and shabby, but not too shabby, you will want to weigh the possibility of flippling.

Flipping takes a leap. It is risky, but you also can arm yourself with some risk minimizers.

Mistakes to avoid when buying a house to flip

  • Drug houses. Homes with ammonia smells are commonly associated with meth.
  • Structural issues. We just are not knowledgeable of foundation fixes, and we would have to hire it out. Foundations can be expensive.
  • Ugly Houses. This may be weird, but you should be able to have vision of what you can do to the house. We do not tear down walls and transform. This, I think, is a common mistake for new flippers. The goal is not to pour a fortune into making an entirely new house.

Here was another home. You can see how we really just worked on what was there; refinished the floors and painted.

How much money do you need to flip a house?

This is hard to go into because it will vary entirely on the region you are working in. I did just want to show a glimpse of some costs to consider.

For our first home, our most successful, here is the profit we got.

cost details of flipping houses, real estate investments

It is also good to keep track of how many hours you spend. We tracked our time doing all of the work as well as any expenses we made using a shared Google spreadsheet. We documented about 800 hours.

Keep the receipts and this documentation to help with income taxes, which as seen in the table is a big chunk we kissed goodbye.

Is flipping houses a good investment?

We were hooked on flipping homes on our first home, and it profited enough to get us rolling into more rentals and more flip homes.

Despite the hard work, the satisfaction and profitability makes flipping another great investment if you are willing to put in the work and time.

I have to sometimes remind myself of the great light at the end of the tunnel when we are in the middle of the project, sweaty and on our knees in renovations, but the investment is worth the while.  

The pros to investing in flipping houses

1. can be very profitable

I put this statement here ignoring its counter argument. There is risk, obviously of the opposite, a flop. Some homes can be huge money pits, and we have seen some in the walk through where it would take more renovations than you could ever get out.

With good managing, however, the profits can be huge- another whole income to the yearly income. As I showed in our table above, we nearly doubled our investment in the end in a year’s time. We walked away that year with an amount written on a check larger than we had ever seen on one little piece of paper.

We have not ever gotten into the larger markets around here (we have tried, but they are very competitive). We have stuck to rural locations with smaller home costs. The gross profit in the larger markets would be riskier, but as the saying goes, also could be much a much higher reward.

2. Being your own boss

Our flips have been done on the side of full time jobs. My husband would go to his job, and then off to the renovation home he would go. Or, he would come home to watch the kids, and I would go do my jobs. I am a stay at home mom, but I too consider that a full-time job.

We worked with our schedules, and it was manageable- tiring, but manageable! We both enjoyed having the power in our hands to make this business work.

3. Satisfaction

We have had great satisfaction in the end. Though the process is rough at times, the finished product is amazing. We had the opportunity to dive into something we really loved to do. This job is a job of being the boss of yourself.

I do believe, the harder you work in this job of flipping houses, the better the pay off. It takes a lot of time, bargaining, work, and sweat, but if all of those are played right, a hugely profitable reward comes.

The cons to investing in flipping houses

1. It is A LOT of work

The man hours we recorded were on the low end of 800 hours. On shows, you see crews getting homes done in a month. We, being just two people took a lot longer. It always seemed we would miss our goal to finish by a couple months.

The end is particularly difficult, getting the last touch ups and details done, cleaning all of the construction out. It is not glamorous; it is dirty, sweaty, ugly, and exhausting.

I also do not know I would encourage flipping without having some construction skills and background. The profit margin would be greatly reduced if needing to hire out the jobs.  

2. Flops happen

We have not had any loss, but it is tricky. The costs add up, and you need to be careful. Having said it is a lot of work, we have had a home come out to have $8,000 of gross profit. The return rate was still better than putting gaining interest from letting that money grow in a savings.

Still, better than nothing, but if you consider we put about 1000 hours into it, we were managing and working an $8 per hour wage. The type of work that goes into it this is not an $8 an hour job. Flops will happen. This market can be risky.

Do your research and GO FOR IT

If you have read all of this, I commend you. You are getting a good start with researching. If you have not already found “Bigger Pockets,” I definitely recommend their content and joining their network.

They have a vast amount of experience to offer dealing with most of the questions concerning investing in real estate, whether it is renting, flipping, airbnb, or whatever else. They have a podcast and blog, and they are both great with very relevant and helpful experiences.

A lot of being a successful real estate investor is to be proactive and not reactive. With any business endeavor, the more risk, the more reward.

Real estate is risky, yes. We have found it very rewarding. We have been able to use our skills, learn new ones, and pave a foundation for a working business we enjoy. I wish this fortune to everyone.

Thanks, everyone, and thank you, Ray.

Erin is a blogger at Erin Baby Steps where she ponders out and takes on a mission to spread an awareness for math as it relates to toddler home learning/education, finances, projects, and even date night activity ideas.
She would love any support and suggestions as she takes one baby step at a time in raising family and meeting some personal goals.