I live in a small town in middle Tennessee with a population of about 4,000. I've been told it is difficult to find enough deals to survive in a town of this size. It's true that there are not as many deals here as in a larger city, but there is not as much competition either.
Almost a year ago, a couple called on my ad in the paper where I buy houses. They had a double-wide mobile home on approximately one acre and were about to be in foreclosure. They owed about $78,000.
I made an attempt at buying the home on a short sale at $55,000, and was turned down flat by the lender. After trying a little more negotiating with the lender, I finally just gave up on the property.
Then, about two months ago, I saw there was a real estate sign in the yard. By now, it is a bank-owned property. After taking another look at the mobile home, I made an offer of $42,000 through the Realtor, and it was accepted. Go figure!
By the time my purchase was closed, I had a buyer at $64,000 who wanted owner financing and had a $6,000 down payment. He and his family are now living in the home with a monthly payment of $550. His payment is on a 20-year amortization with a 5-year balloon. My payment to the bank in $355 for 15 years fixed.
I read the success story about the blind man in Washington state and was inspired by the fact that he was not willing to give up even if he had to do business 400 miles away from home. In the last couple of years, I have bought four properties between 75 and 100 miles away from home. It is more difficult to work that far from home, but the reward is worth the effort.
Update: Since I wrote this story, the folks living in the home just moved out without notice. I cleaned up the home, put a sign in the yard, and in less than a month I had a new buyer with $5,500 down and a monthly payment of $585. This new buyer just happened in January 2009.
So, it's not whether you win or lose; it is just which way are you going to win.