Unearth Hidden Gems: How to Find Distressed Properties

Unearth Hidden Gems: How to Find Distressed Properties

4 min max read

For those in the know, real estate investing represents a world ripe with opportunities, specifically when it comes to distressed properties. Often overlooked by the general property-seeking public, these hidden gems offer significant profit potential to those who are patient, resourceful, and strategic. Whether you're an experienced investor or a newcomer to the field, understanding how to find distressed properties can significantly boost your investment portfolio.

What Are Distressed Properties?

A distressed property is essentially a property that's under financial, physical, or legal distress, due to reasons such as imminent foreclosure, the owner's inability to maintain the property, or a court order necessitating sale. Imagine them as diamonds in the rough of the real estate industry. They're assets with an underlying value that, due to the circumstances surrounding them, can often be purchased at well below market value.

The Importance of Distressed Properties in Real Estate Investing

In the dynamic world of real estate investing, distressed properties hold a unique position. For one, they can offer unmatched discounted prices, providing the potential for high returns once repaired and sold or rented. To illustrate, consider an investor that locates a distressed home worth $200,000 selling for $120,000 due to foreclosure threats. With repairs amounting to $30,000, his total investment sits at $150,000 - a good $50,000 below market value.

Comprehensive Guide to Finding Distressed Properties

Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of the process. Employing multiple strategies can increase your chances of finding these lucrative opportunities.

Pre-foreclosure and Foreclosure Listings

These are collections of properties that are on the brink of foreclosure or already in the process of becoming foreclosed properties. Many websites offer these listings, and some local governments post them as well. You can also pull a list of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties using technology like DealMachine. Cold calls or direct mail can be effective tools in reaching out to these homeowners.

Auction Properties

Often, when a property is foreclosed on, it is sold at a public real estate auction. There is potential for substantial profits, but it's also important to recognize the risks. Properties are often sold as-is, making them unpredictable investments.

To find out when and where auctions are happening you can take a look at your county website or look at websites like Auction.com.

Bank-owned Properties (REOs)

These are properties that have gone through foreclosure and weren't sold at auction, leading to the bank or lending institution taking ownership. Banks usually want to dispose of these quickly and thus, they can provide great real estate opportunities.

Real Estate Wholesalers

Wholesalers scout for distressed homes, place them under contract, and then sell them to interested investors. This removes the hustle of driving for dollars, advertising, and negotiation.

Driving for Dollars

If you are a wholesaling real estate scouting for distressed properties you can find properties by driving for dollars. This tactic involves physically or virtually driving around a neighborhood and recording which properties look like they have signs of physical distress.

Some signs of a distressed house can be things like tall grass, peeling paint, messed up siding, overgrown landscaping, etc.

While you are driving around searching for distressed properties you can write them down in a notebook which is very budget-friendly but could bottleneck your processes. There are also tools like DealMachine that advance the way you can drive for dollars. Not only can you add properties to a list but you can tag them as you go to filter your leads later. Then you can instantaneously cold call that lead while on the drive or send them direct mail.


Never underestimate the power of a robust professional network within the real estate market. Cultivating relationships with real estate agents, other investors, or even estate lawyers can lead to tip-offs for potential investment targets.

Not only that but network with individuals in your community. Let them know that you are a real estate investor and are looking to buy distressed properties.

You never know who's second cousin's grandma's sister is selling their house. Or any familial or friend relationships. That's the great part about real estate. Deals can come from anywhere.


Multiple Listing Services (MLS) - platforms where properties are listed for sale - can also be a source of distressed properties. A savvy real estate investor can use MLS listings to spot potential properties by focusing on key phrases that suggest a homeowner's willingness to sell lower.

Tips & Strategies to Identify Best Distressed Properties

There are strategies to keep in mind. First, understand the golden rule of real estate investing - due diligence. Scrutinize the properties, environment, market trends, and repair costs. Avoid chasing every lead which can stop you from focusing on the most promising ones.

Furthermore, patience is crucial. While the idea of buying distressed properties at a low cost and quickly flipping them is appealing, remember that the process often takes longer than expected. Finally, come up with a strategic investment plan and adhere to it.

Are You Ready to Dive into Distressed Properties?

Finding distressed properties presents a thrilling opportunity for real estate investors. With knowledge, patience, persistence, and a bit of driving for dollars, you can unearth high-potential properties that others might easily overlook. Remember, to your advantage is the fact that distressed property owners are often motivated sellers. So equip yourself with this comprehensive guide, keep an eye on market trends, and start your treasure hunt in the real estate market!

Samantha Ankney

About Samantha Ankney

Samantha has been a media specialist for DealMachine for 2.5 years. She produces, edits, writes, and publishes all media that is distributed to the DealMachine and Real Estate Investing community.