4 Simple Tips On How To Find Amazing Real Estate Deals You Won't Believe Are Real

When I was a child, every Saturday morning was the same: Wake up early, pile into the minivan with my mom and three siblings and start looking for . . . garage sales! Yes. I was raised by a "garage sale mom."

Because we didn't have a lot of money, we bought nearly all of our clothes, furniture, toys and pretty much everything else from someone who no longer wanted those items. And, let me tell you -- my mom was the master at those sales. She knew how to find the coolest gadgets, toys, games and appliances for pennies on the dollar. She could negotiate a 50-cent t-shirt down to 10 cents, and regularly did. She would even buy far more than we needed, just so she could resell those items at her own garage sales and make a profit to fund our family vacations.

Today, I do far less garage-sale shopping than my mom, but the lessons I learned from her haven't changed. I still want to find a great deal. Today, however, instead of 50-cent t-shirts, I spend much of my time hunting down great real estate deals, because I'm a real estate investor.

Whether I plan to flip that house, hold the property as a rental or go for something entirely different: Everything begins with a great deal. Here are four simple tips you too can use to find better deals on your own real estate, whether you're looking for an investment, a property for your business or simply a home for your family.

1. Consider buying a bank-foreclosed property.

When someone fails to pay a mortgage payment for an extended period of time, the lender will ultimately repossess the home and remove the occupants. Once the home is empty, the lender generally lists the house for sale on the market, using a local real estate to list it.

While the foreclosure, in itself, is of course sad (no one rejoices when someone loses a home), once the deed has been done, these properties can be some of the best deals you’ll find in real estate. Banks want to be in the business of lending money, not managing property, so they are often quick to offer large discounts just to get the deal off their books. Translation: You can get a great deal on foreclosed properties, if you know how to buy foreclosures right.

Because the foreclosure process can take several years, these properties are often in need of some serious repair or updating. So, further discounts may be given to compensate -- for buyers willing to brave a rehab.

Talk to a local real estate agent about the foreclosures in your area, and start checking some out. You might be surprised at the deals you can get.

2. Be the first . . . or the last.

In real estate, often the old adage holds true: The early bird gets the worm.

Oftentimes, it’s not the highest offer for a property that gets accepted, it’s simply the first. Therefore, if you are looking for a great deal, be quick about it! Get a pre-approval from a bank so you can jump at any property right away, and have your real estate agent set you up with automatic email alerts notifying you of any new property that hits the market.

Then, don’t delay -- check it out quickly, and make an offer the same day if possible.

Conversely, another way to find great deals is to look for properties that have been on the market for a long time. Those owners are often far more willing to sell for a discount, because they are tired of holding on to that property. Many times, they will have been making two mortgage payments for months (or years) and will entertain almost any offer.

Related: The 7 Tips Entrepreneurs Need to Know Before Investing in Real Estate

3. Approach absentee owners privately.

In a hot real estate market, like the one most of the United States is exp