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9 Hacks For Finding Distressed Properties For Sale

Are you new to real estate investing or looking to try a new investing strategy? Finding distressed properties for sale can be a game-changer for investors. Distressed properties offer undervalued deals that can significantly increase...

Are you new to real estate investing or looking to try a new investing strategy? Finding distressed properties for sale can be a game-changer for investors. Distressed properties offer undervalued deals that can significantly increase your profit margin. In this article, we will discuss creative ways to find distressed properties and provide important tips for your journey.

What Is A Distressed Property?

A distressed property is a property that is physically or financially (or both) unmaintained by the current owner. When it comes to real estate investing, distressed properties (also known as pre-foreclosures) are homes where the owner has been unable to keep up with mortgage payments and is at risk of falling into foreclosure. It's important to note that a pre-foreclosure means the owner is at risk of foreclosure but not currently in the process. Some properties are in poor condition due to neglect or because they are at risk of being foreclosed upon.

Who Invests In Distressed Properties?

Both homebuyers and real estate professionals often choose to invest in distressed properties. Homebuyers who are looking for a fixer-upper or a lower purchase price can find distressed homes to be excellent opportunities. Distressed properties can also give homebuyers a chance to break into fast-moving markets with less competition. Real estate investors are typically interested in distressed properties for the same reasons. These properties often have a lower purchase price and highly motivated sellers, making them more likely to secure profitable deals.

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How To Find Distressed Properties: 9 Creative Hacks

Distressed properties offer attractive investment opportunities with wider profit margins and less competition than traditional deals. However, finding these opportunities can be a challenge. Here are nine creative hacks to help you find distressed properties:

  1. Look For Neglected Properties

To find distressed properties for sale, start by selecting a target neighborhood and be on the lookout for signs of neglect. Neglected properties often have multiple notices placed on doors or windows, peeling or faded paint, lights not turned on at night, overgrown weeds or neglected lawns, broken windows or needed exterior repairs, and uncollected mail or newspapers. A neglected home and yard may indicate a motivated seller willing to sell at a discount.

  1. Check Tax Records

Delinquent taxes are public records that could indicate financial trouble for homeowners. Those who can't pay their taxes may also struggle with mortgage payments, making them more likely to sell.

  1. Find Properties With Delinquent Mortgage Payments

Homes with delinquent mortgage payments are prime examples of distressed properties. Owners who can't pay their mortgage are at risk of foreclosure and may be willing to sell at a discount to avoid it. Public records of delinquent mortgages can often be found at local courthouses.

  1. Consider Probate Opportunities

Probate properties are those left behind due to significant life events such as divorce or death in the family. In many cases, those inheriting the home may not want it, providing an opportunity for investors to purchase it at a good price. However, making an offer on a probate sale requires a special process, as the property is being sold through an attorney or an executor.

  1. Peruse REO & Bank Owned Property Listings

Real estate-owned (REO) homes are properties that lenders have already repossessed. Lenders prefer to get rid of non-performing assets, so investors may be able to negotiate a discounted price. Check REO and bank-owned property listings for potential investment opportunities.

  1. Drive For Dollars

Take a drive around your target neighborhood and look for properties that stand out from others. Signs of distress can include overgrown yards, broken windows, faded or peeling exterior paint, notices posted on doors, and uncollected mail or newspapers. Seeing the property in person can provide insights that may be missing from professional images and help you determine if it's a sound lead.

  1. Talk To Out-Of-State Owners

Out-of-state owners may struggle to manage and maintain properties they can't visit frequently, leading to distressed properties and motivated sellers. Identify out-of-state owners through direct mail campaigns or networking. Mailing lists and networking can provide valuable information and potential investment opportunities.

  1. Check The MLS

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) can be a valuable resource for finding distressed properties. Look for properties with a listing status indicating distress, such as short sales or real-estate owned listings. Properties listed for longer than 90 days are often more motivated sellers, presenting potential deals for investors.

  1. Search Online

Utilize online resources to find distressed properties. Look for properties for sale by owner that are delinquent in taxes and mortgage payments, properties being sold through bankruptcy or divorce, probate deals, and properties owned by banks or the government. Local tax assessor websites and foreclosure listing sites are excellent online sources for finding distressed properties.

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7 Tips For Buying Distressed Real Estate

Finding distressed properties is just the first step. Closing these deals can be different and require additional preparation. Here are seven tips to help you navigate the process of buying distressed real estate:

  1. Choose a target neighborhood: Select a neighborhood that could potentially attract buyers and maximize your profit margins.

  2. Don't just look for the "distressed property" label: Sellers often do not label their properties as distressed. Look for motivated sellers by paying attention to how long properties have been on the market, re-listed properties, and withdrawn listings.

  3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage: Being pre-approved for a loan will give you an advantage when making an offer on a distressed property.

  4. Work with an experienced agent: Find a real estate agent with experience working with motivated sellers or in your target market. They can provide valuable insights and help you find opportunities.

  5. Get an inspection: Distressed properties may have hidden issues. Conduct a thorough inspection to identify necessary repairs and assess the potential return on investment.

  6. Familiarize yourself with the local jurisdiction: Learn about local government resources, auctions, and necessary websites to maximize your efficiency in finding distressed properties.

  7. Make a cash offer: Motivated sellers often prefer cash offers and may be willing to accept a lower offer. Having cash on hand can give you an edge in closing the deal quickly.

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Pros & Cons Of Distressed Properties

While distressed properties offer attractive prices, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider:

Advantages Of Distressed Properties

  • Lower than market value cost
  • Fix and flip opportunities
  • High profit potential
  • Easier financing options through bank-owned homes
  • Opportunity to buy in a nicer neighborhood than you could normally afford

Disadvantages Of Distressed Properties

  • Unexpected repairs
  • Increased competition
  • Cost of renovations
  • There is no guarantee the property will sell

Financing A Distressed Property

Financing a distressed property with a traditional lender can be challenging due to low appraisals and high repair costs. However, creative financing strategies like working with hard money lenders or silent business partners can be explored. Present a strong pitch to lenders, demonstrate accurate numbers for the investment potential, and be prepared for potential delays in the closing process.


Finding distressed properties for sale requires creative strategies and a thorough approach. By incorporating the nine hacks mentioned and following the tips provided, you'll be well-equipped to find these coveted investment opportunities. Remember to conduct thorough research, network with industry professionals, and be prepared for potential challenges along the way.

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