If you plan to become a Property Preservation Repair Vendor or an REO Repair Vendor, you will be expected to complete itemized repair estimates, or “bids” as they are frequently referred to in this industry. You will also be expected to use some type of estimating software.
Property Preservation Repair Bids are similar to the itemized estimates completed by insurance adjusters. So if you have ever been involved in the completion of insurance claim repairs then you will have no problem.
If you only complete the basic maintenance type work then you will not be completing these types of bids on a daily basis; however, it is still extremely important for maintenance vendors to know how to accurately price a job.
Identifying the Winning Bid
Now comes the tricky part: calculating an appropriate bid that will secure you the work while also making sure you turn a decent profit. To stand a chance of winning the business, it is imperative that you understand how the system works. You’re in this for one thing: cash. There are a large number of elements that can influence what you can charge for your services. The appropriate fees can vary according to geography, your experience, the number of firms offering a similar service as yours in the area, the availability of skilled workers and the number of REO properties. However, while all this sounds very complicated, in reality, the basic cost structures are relatively similar throughout the country.
Producing an On‐Site Bid
Believe it or not, you can’t just rock up on site without a bid or preparatory work in advance. Specifically, you will need to take some basic items along with you. I recommend having the following available in your car:
1. A camera with a charged battery, memory card, and spare memory card
2. Flashlight and replacement batteries
3. A few copies of the on-site/manual bid forms
4. A copy of the Phone Bid Form that you completed when you were first contacted
5. Pens, pencils, and a clipboard
6. A hard hat
7. Measuring tape
9. Business cards
10. PPE such as gloves and goggles in case you need to inspect areas that are potentially unsafe
11. Any supplies and tools you may need to secure the property in the event that you’re asked to do so while you’re there
12. Basic tools, such as a drill and screwdriver, in the event that you are required to enter a property that has been boarded up.
13. A change of clothing.
14. A ladder.
In addition, you should:
• Wear suitable attire for the visit. This should consist of work boots, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers)
• Prepare a GPS printout of the exact location of the property
• Record your start and finish mileage for the purposes of your tax return
As soon as you arrive on the property, start taking photographs. You’re going to need to document everything for the purposes of your estimation and to provide later evidence of the work you have completed. Don’t be surprised if the neighbors approach you while you’re in the process of inspecting the property. Some will want to find out information about what is happening. Remain calm and explain that you are simply a contractor who has been brought in to take photographs. Tell them that you don’t know anything about the property and that they should contact the realtor/AMC for any information they need. This will usually get you off the hook.
When you’re performing inspections for the purpose of producing an estimate, you need to stay alert at all times and focus on getting the job done properly but within the minimum amount of time. If you’re surveying a property in a rough area of town, take an additional person with you. Be alert at all times, you don’t know what is lurking inside the property, or outside for that matter. Unfortunately, this work is not all roses around the gate, and it’s important that you are fully aware of the health and safety risks and take appropriate action to mitigate them. Recall the sticky situations we addressed on Day 3? Be ready and prepared for all eventualities.
Producing an On‐the‐spot Bids
You will frequently be asked to provide an on-the-spot bid when you visit a property. Sometimes, being able to produce a fair bid at a moment’s notice will actually win you the contract, especially if the realtor is in a rush. You will, hopefully, recall from an earlier section that there is typically a requirement for properties to be completely cleaned and junked out within five days of the initial inspection (external work within seven days). That is the work COMPLETELY finished, not the bid produced.
If you have visited a site, it is in your best interest to get your quote in as quickly as possible. Return to your office, produce the necessary paperwork and get the estimate submitted. It doesn’t matter how busy you currently are cleaning out and maintaining the properties you already have on your books; you simply have to find the time to produce bids. If you don’t win bids, you have no new work coming in, and you’ll soon run out of business.
In this industry, time is everything. By completing and submitting an estimate in a timely manner, you will enhance the view of your company as a reputable and professional provider and project the image that you are thorough and efficient.
Generating Estimates Over the Phone
You may be asked to supply a bid for your services over the phone. Where possible, you should avoid doing so for a number of reasons:
1) It will be difficult to generate a quote. Without seeing the severity of the junk and the condition the property is in, you have no idea what truck to hire, how many people you’ll need and how much time it is going to take you to clear/maintain the place. It is only through seeing the place first-hand that you can generate a realistic bid. If you get your bid wrong, you could end up providing your services free of change… no one wants that!
2) You don’t want to give away your competitive position. You’re operating in an environment in which the lowest bid usually wins. If you’re contacted by phone, the person telephoning you may actually be your competitor trying to find out your pricing. Knowledge is power after all! If you are contacted by phone and can’t be sure that you are speaking to a real customer, ask the caller to provide the exact address of the property. If he or she is unable to answer immediately, you should remain cautious about what information you share. The same is true if they refuse to give you their full contact information and the name of the company they work for.
3) You will miss out on an opportunity to up-sell your services. One of the advantages of visiting the site for the purposes of producing a quotation is that you will have a chance to really understand what needs doing. You can then provide a basic quote as well as an additional list of things that are “optional.” For example, if you are asked to provide a quote for cleaning out junk but then arrive on site and find that the roof is leaking, you can include it in your optional section. However, remember to exclude the optional items from your quote for the services you have been asked to bid for. Otherwise, you’ll appear to be much more expensive than your competitors.
So if someone legitimate does contact you to request a quotation, how should you respond? Before you give any information away yourself, start by asking some basic questions to ascertain the following:
1) Name, job title, firm and full contact details of the person calling.
2) Full address of the property that requires servicing.
3) Gate code, if relevant.
4) Size of the property, number of stories and accompanying land.
5) Entry information.
6) Whether photographs will be required with the bid
7) Whether or not an initial inspection has already been performed.
8) The general condition of the property, how long it has been empty, etc.
9) Whether there are any known hazards or organic material on site.
10) The type of services that will be required.
11) The deadline by which the bid needs to be submitted.
12) Where the bid should be sent and who it needs to be addressed to.
13) The timescale in which the services will need to be provided.
Pricing Your Services
Of course, in addition to submitting your bid in a timely fashion, you also need to ensure that it is fair, realistic and accurate. To do this, you need to be aware of what the going rates are for foreclosure cleanups and property preservation and maintenance. Once you have this information at your disposal, you can produce bids that are competitive and realistic.
When producing your bid, you should take a number of factors into consideration:
- The scale of the work/the number of properties you may be required to service for a given customer. If you expect more work, you may wish to consider a bulk pricing approach.
- The extent of the services that you will be providing at the same property.
- The number of competitors in your area and the amount of business you are currently competing over.
- The area in which the property is located.
- The complexity and scope of the job.
This industry isn’t particularly complex. As such, pretty much 99% of the time, the business will be awarded to the lowest bid. This means that your task is to figure out what that bid will be and how you can perform the work for that price while also turning a profit. It many ways, you are going to need to get creative.
Bidding for Interior Cleaning Jobs
The contractor that wins the job for the junk out will pretty much always get the clean up work as well. When you submit your estimate, include two different bids, one for clean up and one for junk out, but also specify a special price if the two are contracted together.
There are two types of cleaning services when it comes to REO properties: Basic clean and detailed clean. You can learn more about cleaning in the Maid Services page.
The two services have very different scopes. In general the following applies:
- Lenders and AMCs will usually only require a basic clean. If remedial work or repairs have been performed, they may ask for a detailed clean after the work.
- Investors usually want a detailed clean but will only be prepared to pay for a basic clean. Don’t forget to include the full scope of work in your bid to avoid any misunderstanding in this area. If you’re dealing with an investor, quote for the detailed clean unless you’re specifically asked otherwise.
Bidding for Ongoing Maintenance Activities
Some recurring services may be provided on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Touch-up cleans don’t tend to pay too much, and most lenders have a monthly budget of around $100 per house. As such, it is usually better to offer a once monthly clean to make it worth your while. Generally, it will take a team of three people about an hour to provide a touch-up clean to a property of around 2000 square feet.