Today, we’re going to talk about how to find houses to flip.
There’s already a lot online about this. They say to look at expired listings, contact people delinquent on their taxes, send out mailers to the elderly, etc.
But those aren’t generally the tactics that yield the best results.
When flipping houses, you’re not just looking for distressed sellers. Usually, you’re looking to provide a necessary service. You want to purchase a property from someone who needs to sell it at a fair value and then renovate it using your knowledge, skills, and connections.
A house flipper isn’t just a real estate investor when done right. They’re someone investing in and improving their community. They’re putting old and damaged housing stock back onto the market.
So, in looking for “distressed sellers,” what I’m looking for is people that I can help the most. I often find that this doesn’t just lead to profit; it leads to a stronger business, a better reputation, and a revitalized community.
So, let’s look deeper at my favorite strategies for finding houses to flip.
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How To Find Houses To Flip – My Top 7 Favorite Strategies
Keep this in mind. If you needed to sell a house fast, where would you go? What would you do if you had a property that you had to offload, but knew nothing about real estate, real estate investing, or house flipping?
1. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
This may sound crazy, but people are selling houses through online marketplaces. They aren’t closing these deals through PayPal but are trying to source a buyer as an FSBO homeowner.
It only makes sense. As real estate professionals, we use Craigslist and Facebook a lot, too.
I like these venues because they usually want to sell their houses fast but don’t know how to do it. Many don’t trust real estate agents because they’ve had problems in the past. They want a cash home buyer but don’t know how to find one.
Some of them inherited property with problems. Others know that their property isn’t going to pass a house inspection. There’s an opportunity there to help and revitalize the community. And a lot of them are already motivated to sell.
One thing: Look out for scams. When people can post anonymously, there will always be scams. Don’t do any wire transfers, don’t buy anything sight unseen, and always distrust a deal that seems to be too good to be true.
2. Zillow, Trulia, Etc.
This is a mixed bag today. It used to be better. You can find FSBO listings for flipping houses on Zillow, Trulia (now owned by Zillow), and others. You can even pay for leads. The problem is that Zillow is also buying houses, too. So a real estate agent will often discover that all the really good deals are already taken.
At least for now, Zillow has paused its direct real estate investing. A lot of people today want to do self-service. They want to sell their house without an MLS listing or an agent, so they list it on Zillow and wait for potential offers to come in.
And, of course, a lot of this is because they don’t trust agents. But if you connect with them, you can address some of their concerns and, hopefully, make them a little more comfortable with the process.
When looking through Zillow and Trulia, pay attention to the houses selling under market value; there’s a reason. Zillow and Trulia tell people what their “property is worth” (even if it’s often highly inaccurate), so listing under that amount means that they want to sell fast or that there’s something wrong with the property.
3. Your Local Neighborhood
Sometimes the best way to find flip houses is to drive around your neighborhood. A lot of people selling their houses just put up signs. When flipping houses, you know that seeing the house is the most important part.
What do the neighbors look like? How far is it from the interstate? What condition are the roof and foundation in? As a real estate agent or investor, you probably already know which neighborhoods are best for flipping homes.
Someone with a sign in their yard is already willing to commit to a real estate deal. They’re a motivated seller, and they’re hoping to get an offer. If you can come in with something approaching fair market value, you’ll have a flip house in no time. This is also a great way to find a rental property.
Be aware, of course, that many homeowners are wary about people “buying up homes” to flip or sell to a corporation. Be prepared with a script to address any concerns that they might have, to explain that you genuinely love and want to improve the community, and to walk them through the process of finding someone their “forever home.”
You might even find people who not only want to sell their current home but who need to buy their next.
4. Other Local Professionals
Many real estate investors make the mistake of only networking with other real estate professionals. But there are a lot of industries that may be helpful if you’re looking to flip a house.
Estate sales professionals, estate auctions, senior living communities — often, these individuals know about properties before they hit the market. Think about people within your community who might be able to give you a referral, even if they aren’t in your industry. Join groups with other professionals and business owners. Make it clear that you can help people who want to sell properties fast.
Personal networking is one of my favorite strategies for anything related to real estate investing. Once people know that you’re a “house flipper,” they’ll come to you with houses that they think are great investments.
Malcolm Gladwell talked about “nodes”; highly connected people who know thousands of individuals and actively keep in contact with them. In this digital-first world, it’s easier to recognize who is a “node” in your community. Do they have thousands of friends on Facebook? Tens of thousands of followers on Twitter?
By interfacing with savvy professionals and business owners in your community who function as networking “nodes,” you’re more likely to get deals straight to you.
5. Targeted Advertising
Targeted advertising is an exciting and relatively new method of finding houses to flip. You can target advertising on Google or Facebook to people interested in bankruptcy or foreclosure. To be even more creative, you could target those looking up information about a foreclosed home, what it takes to recover a foreclosed property, or how to navigate a short sale with a lender.
The positive about targeted advertising is that it brings in leads who are already looking for someone like you. The negative is that you need to pump a lot of money into it, and once you stop putting money into it, you stop getting leads.
You also need a good website and a remarkable landing page to take advantage of targeted advertising. The better your landing page, the more likely you will get someone to connect with you and commit to the sale.
6. Content Marketing and SEO
Wouldn’t it be great that whenever someone searched for “How do I sell my house in [city]?” they discovered you? This is precisely what the biggest house flippers in the world are focusing on.
SEO is a long-term game, but real estate is a long-term business. It begins with developing an archive of content focused on people in your area who might want to sell — things like “Declaring Bankruptcy in Tempe, Arizona” or “How to Avoid Pre-Foreclosure in Salt Lake City, Utah.”
People who are behind on property tax, people who are interested in finding out more about the repair value of their home, people who are worried about foreclosure… These are all people who might lean toward selling their house. Even people with credit card debts looking up personal loans could be in this category. This also includes people who may be considering bankruptcy or have just inherited a house they need to sell.
Real estate professionals have a huge advantage in real estate; as an investor, you can target a specific geographic location. Depending on where you live, it may not be too hard for you to rank highly in SEO. From then on, whenever someone in your area wants to sell a house, they can find you.
7. Already Foreclosed or Seized Properties
Finally, property auctions and sites like Fannie Mae’s Home Path are great ways to find properties already foreclosed on or being auctioned off. You can often get good deals here because the banks want to offload the property as soon as possible. They don’t care about making a profit as much as they care about offloading the property before it sustains damage.
The downside to this is that you don’t always know what you’re getting. Many people wreck foreclosed properties before the lender gets their hands on them. For auctions, you also need to have cash at hand. If you don’t have hundreds of thousands in the bank yourself, you could need to go to a hard money lender.
But the benefit, especially when wholesaling, is that you can get properties that retail buyers aren’t even aware of — and you can close on them quickly.
Ultimately, the easiest way to complete a house flip is to find a motivated seller who wants to sell their property. And the easiest way to find a motivated seller is to have them come to you. There are a lot of people who will tell you to door knock, to send out mailers, to look up those who are elderly and who are in debt. It’s an option, but it’s more work than you must.
The Old Standbys – And Why They’re Not Necessarily That Great
If you look online, you’ll see a lot of advice. But most of this advice isn’t distributed by anyone who has performed a house flip. Some popular methods are looking up expired listings and tax debt and sending out physical mailers. These are all solid strategies that do work. They worked very effectively in the past.
But they’re also relics of the past. They’re things realtors used to do twenty years ago. Now that we have the technology, we have better answers.
1. Expired Listings
With the right script, an expired listing can be a great opportunity. But they aren’t my first go-to for two reasons.
First, an expired listing has usually expired for a reason. There may be incredibly costly repairs, or the seller might want too much for the property. All you know is that another agent already tried to list the property on the MLS and failed.
Second, a listing expiring doesn’t necessarily mean the contract has expired. So, you may be on hold, waiting for the listing to be available.
When used correctly, it’s still a solid tactic. But when you do a house flip, you want a good deal and low risk; you’re not gambling with other people’s money; you’re gambling with yours. So, a house that others have persistently passed on might not be the best choice, especially in this hot market.
2. Tax Debt
Another trick is to look through tax records and see who is late with their property taxes. And once again, this does work; it’s more than you need to do.
A significant issue is that it feels presumptuous; you don’t know whether that person wants to sell their home, and you know they’re in a bad financial situation. That puts people on guard.
And it’s time-consuming. There are better ways to find comparable properties for a house flip.
3. Physical Mailers
I like physical mailers like postcards to grow your network and build your brand identity. But try asking anyone you know how many mailers they’ve received from selling their house this year. There’s a lot.
There are so many that most people assume it’s a scam. I wouldn’t say you shouldn’t give out physical mailers, as I think you should. But they should be part of your overall marketing campaign rather than a significant way to develop house-flipping leads.
As a realtor, the ideal situation will always be that you want people coming to you. That’s how you make a profit. If you can find a potential buyer or seller by being known and visible in your community, that’s much better.
But if you can’t have someone coming directly to you, you at least want them to be motivated.
You will have the best luck in the real estate market by focusing on people who are already aggressively looking to sell. These people don’t need to be sold on the process. They’ve already made the decision. And with technology, you can get these people to find you online without much work.
Can you make money flipping houses?
In the real estate market, you always follow the 70% rule. You never try to buy a house for a purchase price of more than 70% of what you believe you can sell it for. Many people make money flipping houses, but just like any business, it’s about cash management, efficiency, and experience. Many people make money flipping houses, but you need to be realistic about each renovation.
How do you find houses to flip?
Like any real estate investment, it’s a lot of research. You should network, dig deep into your local community, and reach out to motivated sellers. You don’t want to buy just any house. You want to buy a house that will deliver the best return. If you’re doing everything right, the houses to flip will start to find you.
How do you fund house flipping?
If you want to flip property, you must first know where your financing is coming from. House flipping can be expensive. There are repair costs, closing costs, and (of course) the property. You can go with a renovation lender, a hard money lender, or a traditional investment property loan — but you need to have enough cushion to last if the property doesn’t sell fast.
Have you found any other intelligent ways to find houses to flip profitably? Let me know in the comments below.
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