Newbie house flippers (and sometimes, experts) often face several challenges, like funding house flipping projects, calculating costs, and mostly finding good houses to flip.
While we have several guides in our house-flipping series to help with all these problems, this article focuses on how to find a house to flip— we expose the best secret strategies successful investors use.
- Best Strategies A Real Estate Investor Can Use To Find a House To Flip
- Methods You Shouldn’t Use: Not Bad, Just Slow
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Strategies A Real Estate Investor Can Use To Find a House To Flip
When it comes to flipping houses, time is a relevant commodity. The more homes you can find and flip in a short time– the more profit you’ll likely make.
That means there’s no room for guesswork; it’s best to follow proven strategies that, to a degree, guarantee success.
Here are some of those strategies:
Inbound Marketing With Helpful Content
Inbound marketing is a marketing model used in various business areas to attract leads.
Think of it as a hook and bait system— provide helpful content (bait) that attracts an audience and captures them using CTAs (hook).
While you might wonder where all this marketing jargon sits with real estate investing, some of the best house-flippers reverse engineer this method to rake in millions yearly.
Here’s how it works:
People mostly turn to the internet (especially Google) to find possible solutions to their challenges. If someone needs to sell their house quickly, one of their actions will be to search on Google.
For instance, Mr. X owns a house in Texas he wants to sell. His search query will look like the one in the image below: “Where to sell a house in Texas”
This query brings up several results of sites offering places and tips on how to sell a house in Texas, including this one from cashfortxhousesnow(dot)com (aka Jamie Buys Houses).
Jamie Buys Houses is a small group of real estate investors that buys houses in Texas.
There’s nothing special about them except that they use the inbound marketing model to attract homeowners who are possibly looking to sell their homes without contacting an agent.
Like other real estate professionals looking to go big, they have a website, but here’s what they are doing differently: They included a blog section that answers questions homeowners might have regarding selling their houses in their specific location.
So when anyone searches a query like the one in our example, Where to sell a house in Texas, an article from their blog section shows up alongside other results on the search engine results page (SERP).
Now they’ve got “the bait” in place, what next? They included links within the content to their service page that prompt you to contact them if you want to sell your house.
This is one of the best ways to find houses to flip simply because it works on autopilot. You can set it up once and get leads flowing without continuous efforts (unlike searching Craigslist).
Challenges With Using Inbound Marketing
- It often requires effort from an in-house website content team, including a writer, an editor, and an SEO expert to handle research, content creation, and internal linking processes
- Paying an SEO expert for a task like this is quite expensive
- Appearing on the top search engine result pages takes time, so this is more of a long haul strategy.
Everyone in the real estate business has, at some point, come in contact with Craigslist.
This Internet advertising network is an invaluable point of contact between buyers and sellers in every market, including housing.
It has a fairly large user base, so most for sale by owner (FSBO) ads will likely be listed there.
Searching Craigslist is like panning for gold— you’ll often find irrelevant listings and spam, and the search function isn’t much help. You have to filter through the dirt to get a valuable nugget.
But here’s the secret strategy to using it:
Searching Craigslist shouldn’t be an endpoint; rather, you can use it to source contacts. The first thing you want to do in your search is collect the contact details of landlords with listings under rentals.
Many landlords want to sell their properties but can’t because of how much it costs to fix and flip a house, so they list it for rent instead.
To find properties like this, check the rentals section under housing or real estate.
You’ll usually find many listings from real estate companies and private resorts— you’ll know because you’ll find the company’s name in the home description.
But that’s not what we are looking for. We need properties listed by singular landlords (like the one in the image above). Once you’ve found those listings, click reply to get the landlord’s contact details.
Often, these landlords may not intend to sell their homes, but chances are they know someone who wants to sell.
In some rare cases, you’ll find landlords who want to sell their homes and buy new ones, so you can make extra money if you have a house to sell.
The goal of this method is to network with landlords who will most likely sell their house or refer you to one sooner or later.
Another rather common Craigslist strategy is checking the “house for sale” area and adding an alert to notify you whenever there’s a new listing with a particular keyword.
Craigslist doesn’t have an alert function (at least not yet), so real estate pros set alerts using IFTTT. This automation platform sends you an email whenever someone lists their property on Craigslist using any keyword you selected.
Challenges With Using Craigslist
- You’re more exposed to scammers
- It takes much more time to find a property, especially if you’re looking in the wrong subcategory
- Craigslist is oversaturated with listings from real estate companies, so it’s hard to find a house from singular homeowners who aren’t running a big empire
Networking With Nodes
The term “Nodes” was used by Malcom Gladwell to describe highly connected individuals with an outstanding active contact base.
While Malcom had his theories about networking and society, we can apply some of them and get results.
We could all agree that for most businesses, the more people you can reach, the higher your customer base grows. To this end, you should try to network with as many people as possible— which is hard work.
A better approach is connecting with a person who already has a large network of contacts and will gladly let you join the group.
Social media influencers and those who run large online communities are perfect examples of nodes. You can connect with them and tap into their already-established networks.
But to get the best of this method, you’ll first need to identify nodes operating within your required audience. This could be influencers who review houses or admins of home improvement communities like DIY Chatroom.
Relationships with such individuals can help you reach more homeowners who’ll likely want to sell their homes.
Challenges With Using Nodes
- If your relationship with a node doesn’t already exist, you’ll likely pay to use platforms to give you access to them
- Connecting with a popular node can be tricky; several other people are vying for their attention as well
Building Advertising Campaigns on Google
Another marketing strategy converted to find houses to flip is using Google Ads.
Usually, businesses use this method to get their products to appear on SERPs without doing much of the SEO tasks. For instance, using our query of Where to sell a house in Texas, you’ll find several results appearing atop tagged “Sponsored.”
These are results from those using advertising campaigns on Google.
Unlike the organic inbound marketing method we discussed earlier, building campaigns is a faster, but more expensive method, to reach those who want to sell their homes.
Challenges With Using Advertising Campaigns
- You’re billed for every click on your ad, even if you don’t get a house to buy
- Your ad has a lifespan and expires after you stop paying for it
- You’ll need to continuously update and pay for your ad to keep it fresh and running
Checking REO Listings
Real Estate Owned (REO) listings are more like an aggressive method house flippers turn to find cheaper houses than those at foreclosure auctions, especially when buying wholesale.
Banks and private lenders foreclose the properties in this list from those who couldn’t pay their mortgages or debts. Usually, the bank puts the foreclosed property up for auction, but when it doesn’t sell, it goes into the REO listings.
You’ll often find these listings through several platforms. One place to check is bank websites— they’ll often have lists like this, since they are responsible for foreclosing those properties.
There are also specialized foreclosure platforms that allow you to locate and track foreclosed properties for a fee. One of such platforms is RealtyTrac.
Challenges With Using REO Listings
- You’ll often find houses needing more expensive rehabs because their former owners were most likely not leaving them in a decent state.
- The previous owners may have uncleared property taxes as part of their debt, which might be an issue when you take ownership.
Checking Zillow (Or Other MLS Databases)
A Multiple Listing Service offers some of the best opportunities to flip houses. Compared to other MLS databases, Zillow stands out when it involves finding trustworthy properties.
You’ll find several listings from real estate firms and agents on Zillow like you will on Craigslist. This is because FSBO homeowners are often not allowed to list properties on most MLS platforms like Zillow.
However, you can contact the real estate agent for details on the home sales, which is a more expensive, but higher quality option. It’s also worth mentioning that you must be registered to access all of Zillow’s listings.
Realtor.com and MLS.com are also some of the best MLS listing websites you can check out for houses.
Challenges With Using MLS Listing Websites
- You can’t directly contact homeowners, which makes it more expensive to buy a house
- Most MLS lists require a paid subscription for membership
Methods You Shouldn’t Use: Not Bad, Just Slow
Besides the methods we’ve discussed, some investors use other means that are legal but most likely out of fashion. These methods, like the ones discussed below, no longer produce good results and aren’t worth the while.
Classified advertising often involves placing an advertisement under a section of a print publication like a newspaper. While this method can still work, there’s the question of how fast it works.
The problem with using classifieds is almost everything is going to the internet nowadays. Unlike a few decades back, we can’t say the print media is as popular as it used to be.
For one, most properties in expired listings have probably gone through several real estate agents who couldn’t sell them. Reasons often being: the properties are too damaged, or their selling prices are way above the real estate market value in the area.
While finding a good deal there is possible, it might take significant time scraping through the options to find something worth investing in.
One of the old ways that has managed to survive the digital age is using physical mailers.
In this method, real estate investors craft letters addressed to homeowners, pitching to buy their properties. And if all works well, the homeowners can reach out to proceed with a transaction.
The problem with sending out physical mailers these days is that it has become a common method beginner realtors use to find houses.
To make things worse, it’s also a technique several scammers used in the past, so homeowners are weary of physical mailers.
Your letters might very well end up in a garbage can for recycling.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Flip a House?
Most house-flipping estimates say it takes about 6–12 months to flip a house.
That said, the faster a house is flipped, the more profitable it is. You’re less likely to bleed cash through holding fees, like property taxes or utility bills.
What Is the Hardest Part of Flipping a House?
If you’re looking to flip houses, finding the real estate deal at the right price point is the hardest part. Having sudden structural issues that turn the house into a money pit is also pretty challenging.
What Skills Do You Need to Flip Houses?
House-flipping skills include having an eye for a good investment, using the right tools to find and flip properties, and utilizing your negotiation skills in closing deals. Having a construction, design, or real estate background is also a huge plus!
Finding a house to flip requires effort, but it shouldn’t be a pain— the first time is usually the hardest, but as time goes on, you might find it a fun activity.
We are curious what other methods you’re using to find houses. Have you tried these methods we gave before? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section. Also, your friends might find this guide helpful, so share it with someone looking into investment properties as a side hustle.