They say you can’t always tell a book by its cover, right? Book publishers go to great lengths hiring artists to compose a compelling book jacket to encourage you to pick up the book and buy it but if the story is well, less than what you expected, even finding investment propertythe most glamorous book cover can’t make up for a lousy book. Is it the same with a real estate investment? Can you tell from the outside if a home will make for a profitable investment?

 When it comes to real estate, you might very well be able to judge a “book by its cover.” For instance, you’re driving around in a new area getting a feel for a neighborhood. There are several homes in the area that look to be maybe around 10 to 20 years old, but no older. You notice one home however that has missing shingles, the porch seems to sag just a bit and the lawn needs more than just a little tender loving care. Can that tell you about the inside of the house?

Sure it can. Property owners who can’t afford to maintain a home’s outside are also likely not able to take care of the inside, either. The interior walls need painting and the carpeting is probably stained and worn. Basic maintenance items are left unchecked such as leaky faucets, an air conditioning system that doesn’t quite cool and a furnace that makes too much noise.

Such is the condition of many property owners who are in financial straits. With a little homework, you might find out that the property has more than a few outstanding liens on the home and the mortgage company has filed a Notice of Default.

You can certainly judge a property’s condition by its curb appeal, or lack thereof. And if you see such a property, it might be time to contact the owner to see if a sale can be negotiated. That's how bargains are found.