Zero down doesn't really mean no down payment. Most sellers need something as a down payment if they are providing financing. Most banks won't do 100% financing on real estate that is purchased as an investment. Zero down just means that the down payment won't come from your money. So where will you get it? Can you really profit from real estate without having money to start?
The answer is clearly yes. At our local investor's meeting the other night, one investor told me that he recently found a fixer upper, but couldn't arrange financing. What did he do? He assigned the contract to another investor for $6,000. In other words, all he ever had into the deal was a $500 "good faith" deposit, and his time, and he made a $6,000 profit. This is called "flipping."
Not only did he not need a down payment, but he didn't even have to buy the property to make money. There was enough potential profit in fixing up and selling the house, that other investors were happy to pay to take his place. The key here was that he knew how to find a good deal, and his offer included the right to assign the contract to another investor if he wanted to.
Now, if he had put the $500 deposit on a credit card, it truly would have involved none of his own money, except enough for gas to drive around looking at houses. Of course, he would have paid a 3% cash-advance fee and 18% annual interest for a month. This would have reduced his profit by $22.50. Yes, zero down is possible and profitable.
More Zero Down Ideas
What if you want to actually complete the purchase, renovation and sale with zero down, and none of your own money invested at any point? There are dozens of ways to do it. One way is too find a partner. In fact, tomorrow I'll be talking to an investor who wants to use my money to complete the profitable renovation of a property. I want a share of those profits. Believe me, if the deal is good, there are people who want to bring their money into it.
Here is one example of how you might combine a couple investing techniques to keep your investment to zero. Let's assume you find an owner who is tired of being a landlord. He has a run-down house that he wants $80,000 for. You look at it and see that with $4,000 worth of clean-up and repair it could sell for $116,000. All the costs totaled will add up to around $9,000, leaving $27,000 potential profit in the deal. You have no money.
How about offering the seller more than he wants? Offer him $85,000, using a $500 credit card cash advance for a good faith deposit. The offer, however, is for $5,000 down, no payments, but the entire remaining balance to be paid within one year, with 7% interest. Why should he say yes?
You explain that he will get more than he wanted - maybe even a few thousand in interest too. His collateral will be safe, because unlike his renters who ran the place down, you'll be pouring money into fixing it up. He will have a first mortgage on a home that will soon be worth much more than what he is owed.
If he agrees, you find an investor who has about $15,000 to put into the deal. This will cover the down payment, repairs and other expenses, with a little left over for any unexpected costs. In return, he'll get his investment back and half the profits. If you complete the house quickly and on budget, this means over $10,000 for each of you.
The seller gets more than he is asking. The other investor gets a great return on his investment. You make $10,000 or more without investing a penny. Making sure that everyone wins is the surest way to make a deal work with zero down.