5 Ways Real Estate Investors Use to Find Properties FAST

With more arrows in your quiver, finding deals can be a repeatable thing for your business.

Finding real estate investment properties can be challenging, especially if you’re in a hot market. I’ve got five places to look for fix & flip properties besides the MLS. Want to know what they are?

What’s the MLS?

First, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about the MLS. The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is a database of properties for sale. It’s a great place to start your search because it has all the properties currently for sale in a given area. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using the MLS as your only source of information.

1) The MLS is updated every day, but not always at the same time as other sources of information. So if you’re looking for something specific, it may be best to check back later in the day or week when more recent listings have been published.

2)The MLS carries listings made by real estate agents and sometimes banks or auction houses. However, the details can often be vague (especially about auctions), and the information and pictures can be, let’s say, a little rough to get through (real estate agents, please just hire professional photographers!).

3)The MLS is designed for retail buyers, not investors. The verbiage, staging, info, pricing, everything on the MLS is tailored to those who are buying a home for their families and not as investment properties, so if you’re looking for fix & flips, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Wait, Why Shouldn’t I Just Use the MLS?

This may sound strange, seeing that the MLS is one of the most popular sites to find and potentially purchase a home. However, that’s the exact reason why you shouldn’t look there. It’s TOO popular.

Here are a few other reasons why you shouldn’t look on the MLS for fix & flip properties:

  • It has the highest competition – First-time flippers tend to take the easiest route. So, they all flock to the MLS. And then they get stuck in a massive traffic jam of competing offers until the house is sold to someone else.

  • It has the highest prices – It’s true you will find properties with not as much repair work needed on the MLS. However, sellers tend to use that to their advantage and hike up the listing price. With a high purchase price, there’s no way you can make a decent profit.

  • It has the lowest number of profitable opportunities – Solid fix & flip deals post on the MLS once in a blue moon. And once they post, a giant herd of half-crazed real estate investors comes flocking to create a bidding war before you can even get there!

So, now you know where you shouldn’t look, let’s focus on where you should look. Here are my top five places to find lucrative properties quickly:

The Five Places You Need to Look to Find Fix & Flip Properties Fast

1: Bank Foreclosures and Short Sales

Bank foreclosure listings are a phenomenal resource for the following reasons:

  • Properties seek to be sold quickly and at below-market prices
  • You can purchase foreclosures with less risk and less competition
  • Foreclosures are typically lien-free

While foreclosures usually sell for fantastic discounts, be sure to investigate the neighborhood and get a complete understanding of the needed repairs for the property. First of all, it won’t do you much good to purchase a home only to find it’s in a terrible area. Second, it doesn’t make sense to buy at a low price only to find it needs a new roof and has significant foundation issues.

Short sales, like foreclosures, are bargain-priced with very motivated sellers. Short sales differ from bank foreclosures in that the seller is looking to sell a property before the bank seizes it and goes into foreclosure. You can lock down a short-sale property more quickly if you already have a hard money lender and down payment or proof of funds ready to go.

Where to Look: For bank foreclosure listings, check out Foreclosure.com. For short sales, you can either do a regional search online or go to Foreclosure.com for short sales. You can also check out RealtyTrac and Re/Max.

2: Auction Listings

You can find some excellent properties selling for low prices at real estate auctions. To ensure you bid on the right property, go into an auction with the following information ahead of time:

  • The quality of the property location
  • The kind of repairs needed to make the property move-in ready
  • The maximum price you can bid for this property while still maintaining a solid overall profit

You can calculate a lot of this information using our helpful tool, the Advanced Deal Analyzer. As a result, you’ll get the solid numbers you need about the property and your potential profit. Once you obtain the numbers on each auction property, stick to those numbers. Don’t let the heat of an auction get the best of you. You don’t want to be stuck with a property you paid far too much for.

Where to Look: For auction listings, check out Auction.com and Hubzu.

3: Estate Sales and Probate Opportunities

So many flippers ended up securing a profitable deal just by attending an estate sale. Typically, estate sales are held by the relatives of an individual who recently passed away.

What’s interesting for investors is that the majority of the time, those relatives may seek to offload an older, outdated property quickly. We’ve seen many borrowers seek out estate sales and ask the person running the sale about the house. Then, they offer to take the home off their hands fast with an offer. More often than not, these relatives are incredibly grateful to find someone to take care of the property they no longer want to keep around. As a result of simply asking, our borrowers find themselves with an excellent REI deal.

Probate situations are similar: someone has passed, and relatives aren’t sure what to do with their property. That’s where you come in and make an offer. You can snag an excellent rehab opportunity for a low price. Again, make sure these probate properties are in good locations.

Where to Look: Check your local newspaper and online obituary listings. You can also look in the classified ads for estate sales in the area. Another option is to request online probate court records.

4: Marketing, Mailers, and Signs

Have you ever seen those yellow and black signs around offering cash for houses? Guess what? They’re from investors, just like you! They pound the pavement and take advantage of strategic marketing to find deals. There are many ways you can get the word out, but here are a few of the best:

  • Blast social media – Post, share, tweet, Instagram, pin, do it all. You never know if a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook is looking to sell a house quickly. As a result of your post, you could end up with multiple properties! The more you can advertise on social media you’re looking for a fix & flip opportunity, the better.

  • Send out postcards and other mailers – This is a very effective marketing tool to get the word out to those who may not be on social media often.

  • Use the fancy black and yellow signs (bandit signs) – The great thing about this strategy is that it’s simple and effective. For your sign, all you need is an offer (we buy houses – cash) and a contact number (123-45-6789). That’s it. Those who may miss your online blast or mailers will drive down the road and see your sign. And since your sign will be plain and highly visible, they’ll have no trouble catching your phone number.

  • Hire some help – Many flippers hire people to search for properties for them. This is an effective method, especially if you pay a percentage based on when the deal is ultimately sold. First off, this motivates your hires to start searching right away. Second, it helps them focus on better-quality deals. You can pay a base and add a commission later. For example, for deals that get funded, they get a bonus due to their successful efforts.

Where to Look: You can design your own bandit sign online by clicking here. You can also send out mass postcards to mailing lists by clicking here.

5: REI Networking

To find profitable deals fast, networking is absolutely crucial. Here are some of the best people to know in the real estate investment industry:

    • Realtors – This is a no-brainer. Realtors not only know the business inside and out, but they have a lot of inside information regarding new properties which haven’t hit the market yet. As a result, you can snag a property quickly, ahead of the competition.

    • Wholesalers – Wholesaling is a phenomenal way to get your feet wet with real estate investments. Many investors wholesale full-time and are great resources for real estate hot spots. They can also help you learn more about the fix & flip process.

    • Lawyers – Like realtors, lawyers have the inside track on information and properties yet to hit the market. Many probate and divorce lawyers will know if their clients are looking to offload property to make the process easier, which gives you a leg up over the competition.

    • REI Groups – Attend your local real estate investment group. You can find them online, and most advertise on Facebook. You’ll meet a ton of seasoned pros who can help you with the next step and first-timers who know exactly what you’re going through. Needless to say, you can learn a lot from everyone there.
  • Friends and Family –  This is a less-than-ideal option since it’s not a resource you can tap regularly, but it can work if you’re lucky. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone who’s looking to sell, got a new job, are thinking of moving, going through a divorce, or any number of reasons that might require them having to move quickly.  
  • Hard Money Lenders – A lender is a very valuable resource. Not only do they fund your deal, but many provide investment tools and knowledge to help you start on the right and most successful track.

Finally, be sure to do your own research. There’s no substitute for doing your own legwork and finding the right property for you and your family.

Where to Look: First off, contact DoHardMoney. We can help you right away. You can also search Facebook and Meetup for local REI groups. Also, try your local Chamber of Commerce as they’re an excellent networking source for investors since it’s based around the local community. 

Bonus Tip: Just Ask!


Something I’ve noticed is that new investors get intimidated about reaching out directly to potential leads. I think this stems from being afraid you’re bothering them, hurting the relationship, seeming pushy, or whatever reason. That’s just the wrong mindset to have if you want to be successful. 

Real estate investing is about solving problems for others and is a completely ethical business so you should never feel like you’re doing something wrong or are imposing on someone. If you know someone who’s looking to sell or lease property, reach out. They may not have known you were interested, but they may be open to the idea now that they know you’re interested. Plus, it never hurts to ask!

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to find properties quickly and efficiently, but these are my favorite five. Be sure to use all of the resources at your disposal, including contacting professionals and groups, doing your own research, and checking out listings. Using these methods will help you find the perfect property for your investment portfolio.

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