The key to success is in evaluating the repairs necessary, and being realistic about your capability to do those repairs. Almost everyone is going to be able to trim shrubs back, mow and water the lawns and greenery on a regular basis. One of the common factors you will find with almost all distressed real estate is the landscaping needs some serious maintenence, but it's fairly easy to get things back into shape, and it's not horribly expensive to do.
The second common factor with distressed property is paint. You can drive through almost any neighborhood and find homes where paint is peeling, severely faded, or is just one of those "What were they thinking?" paint jobs. Although bad paint on a house doesn't necessarily signify a homeowner in distress, it's something to look at, and learn from. Many housing tracts were built with between 4 and 6 house plans. If you see a "sad" looking home in a neighborhood, find another home (same model) in that area where the landscaping is maintained and there is quality paint on the house. The difference in value and desirability is exactly what you are looking for when building sweat equity.
Real estate agents can be very valuable if you are looking for distressed property and homes in loan default. Picking an agent is something you should spend some time thinking about though, rather than just walk into a Realty office and start talking to the first agent you find. Some agents and offices work closely with lenders and asset managers to sell properties the lenders have taken back. If you want us to send you a free Foreclosures List please contact us and send us a request