Driving for Dollars 101: Tips from 5 Investing ExpertsReading Time: 4 minutes
Some investors are all talk and no action. They’ve read all of the books and attended all the seminars, but they don’t take any action. You can set yourself apart with one simple strategy: Driving for Dollars.
Unfortunate Hint: No, you aren’t driving around picking up money…
What is driving for dollars?
Driving for dollars is a real estate investing strategy that means driving through neighborhoods to look for properties that may turn into your next deal. Normally, you drive and search for houses in need of significant repair.
Some of the best deals out there can be found before they are even listed on a website!
Do this, get your boots on the ground, and learn about the neighborhoods in your market area. When it comes to driving for dollars, the key to your success is knowing what to look for and paying attention to the details.
These seasoned real estate investors know the benefits of driving for dollars. Their strategies help them find deal after deal before their competition.
Check out what to look for and what to avoid when you are out driving for dollars!
1. Mike Nelson takes his son with him as he drives for dollars looking for vacant properties.
Here’s his go-to guide:
- Pick your one area and focus on it.
- Look for uncut grass or overgrown bushes.
- Check for no vehicles in the driveway and a house that looks outdated.
- Get out of the car and talk to neighbors.
- Ask questions about the property and who lived there.
- Look up property addresses in the county tax assessors office – Are these absentee owners or do they live there?
Insider Tip: Skipping tracing is when you find the owners of a property who have essentially “skipped town.” You can often find this at the county tax assessors office. Then you can reach out to the owners and tell them you are interested in the property.
2. Frank Chen knows that driving for dollars is an affordable way to look for deals, train your eyes, and get familiar for neighborhoods.
Questions to ask when out driving for dollars:
- Which house doesn’t have a trash can out?
- Is the lawn unkempt?
- Are there HUD notifications on the windows?
- Is the mail overflowing?
- Is there a manual lock box?
Insider Tip: Give your business card to the mailman in the neighborhood and tell him you have a referral program for finding properties.
3. This House Flipping Ninja drives slowly through low and middle income neighborhoods to look for properties.
Signs that a property is vacant:
- There is debris in front of the house.
- There are locks everywhere on the house.
- You see a notification taped to the door.
- The house looks in worse condition compared to surrounding houses.
Insider Tip: Use the county tax assessor website to find the billing address for the property. This will help you locate the most recent property owner.
4. Michael Jake looks for the worst property in a good neighborhood. He often uses the weather to help him identify vacant properties.
Signs that a property may be empty:
- There are no tire tracks in the driveway after a snow.
- There are no window treatments.
- The gutters are falling off.
- You see newspapers stuck in the door.
- The paint on the house is peeling off.
- The roof looks beat-up.
- There is debris on the front porch.
Insider Tip: The property owner may not know the current condition of the house. Send a postcard with a picture of the property to the owner. This may turn a property owner into a motivated seller.
5. Todd Bockman drives up and down every street in a neighborhood and even gets out to walk around the house if he sees a vacant property.
This investor is looking for the following:
- A house with no curtains or blinds.
- A house that is empty on the inside.
- An electric or gas meter that is missing (If there is no electricity, it is likely that the house is vacant!)
- An overgrown yard.
Insider Tip: If the house is boarded up, there is probably not a loan or a mortgage on it. This is an opportunity can get a good deal on the property.
Now that you know what to look for and how to find the owners of a property, get started! Grab a friend or your kids, pick a neighborhood, and start driving. Challenge yourself to collect 10 property addresses. Good luck!