Driving for Dollars Bible: Finding Distressed Properties and Marketing

by | BiggerPockets.com

Driving for dollars, for those of you who are unaware, is simply the process of driving targeted subdivisions with the intent of locating distressed and or abandoned properties. This is a guide intended to help aid investors in locating distressed properties by “driving for dollars” from steps A to Z, from locating properties to marketing. This method can be utilized by real estate investors, wholesalers and bird dogs alike.

Defining a Market Area:

Before stepping foot in your car, it’s a good idea to establish an area to drive. This will depend on your target market area, exit strategy and multiple other factors such as: tax assessed value, house age, zip codes, crime rates etc. Whatever your criteria the same concept applies. Once you have your target area defined, make a list of subdivisions within that area you would like to drive.

In my example below, I am targeting subdivisions within a certain tax assessed value.


What You Will Need

  • Camera
  • Print out worksheet
  • Pen or pencil

Once your list of subdivisions is complete make a simple excel file to print out for use in the field (as shown in the image below). Alternatively, make a grid on paper. In addition, bring a camera to take pictures of any distressed and or vacant properties you may find. Note in your print out worksheet which camera pictures are associated with a given house.


Street Scene Analysis

The key component when driving for dollars it to be vigilant and observant at all times. In general, the best time to drive is from 10:00 a.m. to early afternoon during the weekday. At this time people are typically at work and it makes it easier to take your time driving through the subdivision.

This process becomes easier if you are driving for dollars during Halloween, Christmas or a trash pickup day. Why? When Christmas or Halloween is approaching a good portion of the neighborhood will have decorations of some sort on display. Likewise, during trash pickup day, garbage canisters will be out on the streets. Vacant properties stand out like a sore thumb, as they won’t have decorations during the holidays or a trash can out front on pick up day.


Red Flags to Look For

When driving for dollars there are several “red flags” you should pay attention to. For example:

  • Tall Grass
  • Boarded up or broken Windows
  • Mailboxes filled to the brim
  • Code Enforcement taped to the door
  • Piled up newspapers
  • Overgrown vegetation
  • Deferred maintenance

Record & Research

As you drive the neighborhoods and locate distressed properties, record the address and any additional notes in your print out worksheet. Take a picture or two of the property as well. Try and take the “best” worst picture of the property as possible, this will come in handy later.

After you finish your drive, return home and research the properties you located on your counties local Central Appraisal District (CAD). Now go through the list of distressed properties you jotted down in your print out worksheet. During the research phase you will want to filter out properties that do not fit your criteria. For instance, if you are looking for high equity properties you need to look for deed dates 15+ years back. Once you have selected all the properties that fit your criteria, create a final list. This list will be used in your marketing. Make certain that the current owner is not a bank, if so you will likely need to discard it.

If you are unsure how to find your local CAD try google searching “[your county name]central appraisal district” or “[your county name]tax  assessor.” Alternatively, you can research properties in the field with your smart phone or other wireless device on the CAD website.

Central Appraisal District Examples

Below is an illustrated example of what you will find when researching properties on your local CAD, although the format and presentation will vary from one county to another. When researching some investors like to delineate between absentee owners (land lords or inherited properties) and owner occupied homes (personal residence). It is very simple to check which category a property falls under when researching  on the CAD. If the owner address and property address match, it is a owner occupied home. If the owner address and property address are a mismatch, it is an absentee owner. Personally I mail to absentee owners and owner occupied homes alike.



Market to your Leads

Once you have finalized your list its simply a matter of selecting your marketing piece of choice, whether that’s a yellow letter or postcard. In my business I receive the best response rate by using custom invitation style envelopes and a letter template specifically designed for this lead source. Select one camera shot from in the field. You will use two versions of this picture. One copy will be inserted into the body of the letter, the other will be re-sized as a thumbnail to print on the envelope itself. This gets my response rate incredibly high, since before they even open the contents of the letter they can clearly see an image of their house in the upper left hand section of the envelope.

Make certain to use the owner address for your mailing address. If the property is owner occupied the mail will go to their personal residence, and if its an absentee owner it will go to wherever there primary residence is located. Continue to mail any leads you find in this manner every 2 to 3 months. Remember the key to success is to be consistent and persistent with your marketing campaign. You will yield the best results with repeat mailings.


What If You are Unable to Find the Owner?

The more difficult it is to find the owner, the less competition there will be and that means more opportunity for you.

Red Flags

If you drive for dollars long enough you will stumble upon circumstances where the owners’ address is not available. This creates a problem – how will you market to this lead if you don’t have their information? There are a few red flags to look out for that indicate additional research will be required to find the owner address. Some of the more common situations are shown below.

  • Scenario 1: You drove by a property that was clearly vacant; however, your Central Appraisal District (CAD) displays the property is still owner occupied. This is typically due to the appraisal district not yet updating their records, which can sometimes lag behind 3 to 4 months. For example if you drove by a property that looks like the image below, and your CAD indicates the owner still lives at that property, you need to continue your research to find the owners address because obviously they no longer live there.


no owner

  • Scenario 2: Returned yellow letters or postcards that were returned due to failed delivery
  • Scenario 3: When you research the property on your local CAD and you discover the owner address section contains no data. This may come in the form of being completely blank or display “No Data” (as shown in the image below) or perhaps a place holder such as “Current Owner”.

no data

Using Deed of Trust and Public Records to Track Down Owners

This is the first step in the process; we will pull data from public records and use it to mine Google for owner information. When your CAD lacks sufficient information you will use the Deed of Trust recorded in your county’s public records to track down the owner. To find your county’s public records simply Google search “[your county name]public records.”

The deed of trust will display all parties involved within the transaction, from grantors to individuals with power of attorney (as shown in the image below). This data is invaluable when attempting to locate the owner of the property.


Mine Google for Data

Once you have searched public records it’s time to take the owner (and any of the grantors names recorded in the Deed of Trust) and start plugging them into Google search.  For starters try searching their full name as displayed in the Deed of Trust. If that yields few results try combining their name + local phone area codes (as shown in the image below). This can often reveal:

  • Landlines or Cell Phone Numbers of the Owner or Grantors
  • New Address of the Owner
  • Any Websites they own
  • Company PDF contact sheets


If you are unable to locate the owner, but able to track down one of the grantors, you can often get the contact information you need by reaching out to them. Sometimes you will find PDFs or About Us profile sections on company websites and you can use this for updated contact information. If you find a website they own, you can do a “who is” on the domain and retrieve information that way as well.

Skip Trace

If all of the above fail, you might consider utilizing a Skip Trace service. If you take some time to research using the methods discussed earlier, you should not need to use a skip trace 9 times out of 10.


 Leave a Note on the Property

Tape a note to the property’s front door and or garage in case the owner returns to their abandoned property. You can bet if they find a note taped to their garage or front door, they will read it. You never know when the owner may return to collect mail or check on the house. You can write the notes manually if you would like, or you can print out a stack of them using a handwritten font. Either way, bring a stack of them with you into the field.


Exchange Business Cards with Neighbors

Oftentimes neighbors are willing to divulge information on the abandoned property owner. After all, no one wants a vacant property sitting next door and dragging their property values down with it. If you see a neighbor outside strike up a brief conversation, hand them a business card, and many times they will provide helpful information.

Recruiting an Army of Mailmen Bird Dogs

When driving for dollars keep a look out for mailmen of any sort. I approach them on their route, briefly introduce myself and my business and hand them a card that explains what I am looking for. Explain to them if they find a house that fits your criteria, and you are able to close on it, they will collect a handsome referral fee.  Mailmen know what’s going on in a neighborhood better than you do, since they drive these subdivisions every day. Get to know a few of them and you will be richly rewarded.


Avoiding REO Heavy Neighborhoods

In a previous blog post, someone emailed me a great question, and I thought it would benefit many of you to address it here. How do you determine if a subdivision is potentially REO heavy before driving it? The answer is by utilizing your local CAD. You can quickly sort through a subdivision and get a rough idea. As illustrated below, you can view the list of individual properties with the subdivision along with the owner’s name. You can quickly look through the subdivision at a glance and determine a rough density of REOs. This way you can include or discard subdivisions before wasting time or gas money driving them (assuming you want to avoid REO properties). Alternatively, use the MLS if you have access.


In Conclusion

Thanks for reading, hopefully with a little bit of legwork and persistence you will discover some gems when driving for dollars. Take action and you will reap results. If you have any questions, please leave them below and I will do my best to help.


About Author

Chris Feltus

Chris is an active real estate investor who buys and flips houses in the Dallas real estate market. He enjoys helping others along on their journey. In addition, Chris operates as a licensed Realtor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


  1. There I a lot if goo ideas in this post. Now work. I might add a couple other items to look for. The has company may leave a door hanger if they are going to turn of the gas and the city may mark the curb or street if they turn if the water. Our city spray paints the curb with an arrow showing where the water meter is and sometimes try even write “off” if they recently shut off the water.

    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks for the nice comment and taking the time to read Mark.

      Yes, door hangers are an excellent idea as well. In addition, I would suggest bringing business cards with you and some simple notes to tape on the front door and garage of any vacant properties you find.

      The post you tape to the door could be simply read “We buy houses for cash as is, if you are interested in selling please contact me [name/ business/ phone number/email here]”. The business cards can be used when talking to neighbors if you are unable to track down the owner of the home. Often times, neighbors are very willing to divulge information as they don’t want a ugly vacant property sitting next door dragging their property value down with it. I will be touching on this in much more depth in the second part of this series.

    • Doug W.

      I don’t (currently) buy in Washington, DC but when I was driving home from an event in the city the other day I noticed a bright neon side that the city had stuck on the street side of a house that said VACANT in big, bold letters.

      My first thought was “well, that makes driving for dollars easy” and my second one was “well, that makes it easy for copper thieves to know which houses to target”.

    • In almost every state it is illegal to pay bird dogs. Someone receiving a payment in furtherance of a real estate transaction for another is performing brokerage services. So if you pay your mailman a referral fee, you are both committing felonies. Great advice.

      • Tim Dalhouse

        Not true, Patrick. It’s only a violation if you are a licensed broker and paying referral fees to non-licensed people. Even In that case, it’s certainly not a felony; it’s a violation of a Real Estate Commission regulation, not a legislative statute, and is not punishable by jail time. State law doesn’t restrict referral fees between unlicensed people. It’s a free country and private citizens are free to pay someone for doing them a favor.

  2. Brandon Turner

    Awesome Post, Chris! This is really an awesome post with a ton of actionable tips that I hope to incorporate. I’m going to use your idea of the picture on the envelope! Thanks, and I look forward to your stuff!

    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks for the kind words Brandon! I wish you the best of luck in your business and hopefully a few of these tips will help yield some additional investment properties for you.

      Another tip, that’s not included in this post, anytime your out on the road you can be driving for dollars. When I am driving comps for an appointment I keep my eyes peeled for vacant homes in the same subdivision. When I am showing houses I keep on the look out for distressed properties. Sometimes I will go off my planned route if I see a distressed property from the road side (ask my wife I have done this on date night on a few occasions).

  3. Ron Ridgway on

    I’ve seen a good amount of these properties around but currently I’m not in the postion to make a move on them. That really kills me to see those possible deals just sitting.

    • Chris Feltus

      Simply open up Microsoft Word. Take the re-sized thumbnail version of the picture you would like to use and insert it into the word document.

      On the top menu bar of word (File, Home, Insert, Page Layout etc.) select Mailings. From here select envelopes -> options-> and depending on the letter size you are using select the appropriate fit, I use A2 the format for invitation style envelopes. Once you have done this position the image roughly where you want it on the final envelope (upper left hand corner in this case). Now insert a blank envelope into your printer (assuming your printer can print on envelopes, most should) and print out a copy.

      I put together a quick illustration to help you navigate through Word.

    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks for the compliment Jerry, means a lot. Three so far, but there will be plenty more where that came from. Several more that have the potential to be deals, but require follow-up.

      I also want to stress the properties I got under contract in this manner were from repeat mailings. In addition, I believe the format I presented in this blog post will only help increase your response rate. Compared to the standard yellow letter or postcard this is very distinct by comparison. Even if they are already receiving mail on the property, they will remember yours.

    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks for the nice comments Tim I am happy to help.

      In regards to a trust, personally I have not dealt with this situation yet, but it should be the same process. When you research the property on the CAD it will show the name of the trust and any trustees involved. I found a real world example in my local CAD and modified some of the information to protect the identity of the parties. Check it out in the link below.


      • Micah Jordan

        I see that this is an old post and I am not sure if this question has already been asked or not but what if your county does not have an appraisal district website? I am from Dayton Ohio and I cannot find one for the Montgomery county area. Would the information be under a different title?

        Thanks for all the helpful information! Plan to implement soon!

        • Lou Cali

          Hi Micah. Every county should have a property website as all ownership is public record. Perhaps search “Montgomery Co real estate taxes”. Those sites usually have the owners listed. A last option would be to go to the county building and ask to see the records.
          Good luck

    • Chris Feltus

      Yes the BP Blog is a great way to learn some new tricks. I have learned a lot from BP and figured it was time to pay it forward and contribute some articles of my own. In regards to the 60/90 day lates, no I have not, but I see no reason why you couldn’t adapt this method to suit your needs.

  4. Derek Tyler on

    Chris thanks for the article, I like the picture idea you presented. I have just started driving for dollars but one issue that I have come across is that in the state of MD, most of these properties seem to still be on record with the previous owner however it is actually owned by the bank. The property will be on file with the previous owner however they have bank maintenance papers, etc on the doors. It gets a little hard to distinguish between bank owned or not. Do you run into this problem at all and do you have any advice?

    • Chris Feltus

      Hey Derek, thanks for taking the time to read through my guide.

      Yes, you will run into properties that show the previous owner on file but are currently bank owned. The reason why is typically the county clerk’s office that inputs the data lags a few months behind, which is why the information has not yet updated in the CAD.

      When you see bank maintenance or property preservation papers on a distressed property its bank owned at that point, and for my intents and purposes I discard the lead. I hope that helps clarify. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  5. michael watts on

    Thank you for all the information. I kind of being doing the same driving for dollars but I’m a beginner in tax lien and tax deed investing. So when I run across a vacant house, I do the research to see if the property tax have been paid on the house.

  6. Hi Chris,
    Nice tips. Much appreciated. How did you come up with the image above of the subdivisions based on tax assessed values? Is that something your county provides via their website?
    Also, you mentioned ‘make a simple excel file…’. Is that from data your county provides?
    I guess I am at a lost as to how you come up with the initial excel file of potential properties.


    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks for the nice comments.

      To produce the map shown in the blog post is actually a fairly involved process. You need to be able to query and manage databases from your local CAD. It allows me to produce helpful maps, but it is by no means required to conduct market research or needed when driving for dollars.

      In regards to the excel file, no this is not something the county provides. You create it BEFORE driving for dollars. It is simply a list you will create and print out to help keep track of the properties you encounter WHILE driving for dollars. For instance, if I am going to drive for dollars I will print out a copy or two of my excel template and take it with me to my car. As I am driving I will write down the address and notes of any distressed and or abandoned properties I come across. As I noted in the blog post you do not NEED to create this list in excel. You can just bring some notebook paper and jot down notes that way as well.

      This comes in handy later when researching the properties you found on the CAD, and allows you to stay organized.

      I hope that clarifies, let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks for reading!

  7. Very good information . I drive for dollars at least once a week . The week days works best for me also . Try driving on weekends didn’t work so well .

    • Chris Feltus

      Thanks Clayton,

      Yes I speak from experience when I suggest driving during the work week if possible. As I am sure you discovered, driving during the weekend can be an exercise in frustration. You need to be able to take your time driving through the subdivisions and analyzing the street scene. During the weekend cars will pull in behind you and it makes the process more difficult for certain.

  8. Nice post Chris!

    I do a lot of driving myself. You might want to look into using Evernote. It works pretty great for vacant properties.

    I have a notebook called ‘Vacant’s’, and when I come across a property, I create a new note, title it the property address, snap some pics and take some notes. Also, Evernote automatically geocodes the location of where you take the picture. I do this all from my iPhone (takes less then a minute), then when I get back to my computer, I have all my vacants on there, and can research at the office, or take my ipad to the country clerks and research the deeds, mortgages, taxes, etc…

    • Chris Feltus

      Great suggestions Ryan,

      I do occasionally use Evernote. In regards to geocoding, I was unaware of that feature. I actually use geocoding quite extensively in my day to day business operations, but that’s another subject entirely. It is a very powerful feature, especially with targeted lists such as vacant properties.

      Thanks for your comment, I am sure it will help benefit some of the readers here.

  9. Great article, Chris. I’ve been collecting rundown/vacant properties while out looking at open houses. I have a couple of other direct mail campaigns going on but this will be my first that came from driving for $$$. I’m kicking myself for not having pictures of the other houses right now! I’ll be stealing your picture idea and using it often. Thanks!

    • Chris Feltus

      Tax assessed value is used when determining subdivisions to drive. It gives a broad ballpark range of the neighborhoods value. For instance if I am looking for properties that have an ARV of 120k it makes no sense to drive a subdivision with an average tax assessed value of 65k.

      As you can see in my original post, I map out all the subdivisions within the cities/counties I am interested in and I can very easily target my specific demographic.

      • Working from tax assessed values may be helpful to some, but for many that is just not a good enough indicator of true ARV. I have rehabbed three properties that had a tax assessed value of around $50K. I sold them for 104K, 108K and 115K.

        • Chris Feltus

          Andy, I think you misunderstood me.

          I use tax assessed value as a ballpark range ONLY for creating a map of target subdivisions to drive. The tax assessed value can be averaged out for the ENTIRE subdivision, and I can then color code the subdivisions on my map based on tax assessed value. For instance 80-100k brown, 101-120k yellow etc.

          I literally have every single subdivision within Dallas Fort Worth color coded by tax assessed value, and this allows me to do quick market research and gauge which subdivisions to drive. As shown in the image in the link below


          When it comes to determining the ARV of a given subject property, yes absolutely used comps off the MLS.

  10. Thanks for the new strategy, Chris. I really like the idea of having a picture of the house on the envelope…who wouldn’t open after seeing that?

    On a side note, you mentioned you stay away from banked owned (REO) properties – is this because the banks are not allowing you to assign or double-close on these properties? Or do you believe there’s just too much competition from other investors, making it difficult to have offers accepted? Thanks for the post.

  11. Shari Posey on

    Do you use blank perforated cards in your own printer or send them to a service? I’m wondering how to print the photos on a small envelop?

    It seems really labor intensive compared to a letter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and I’ve already been out collecting photos and addresses but I’m wondering how to simplify it and still get results.

    • Chris Feltus


      You can outsource it or do it yourself. If you are wanting to use small envelopes, such as the invitation envelope, you will need to use the A2 template in your printer and word. Not every printer is able to do this. If your printer does not have the ability to print on small letters (or its becoming frustrating) just use the standard No. 10 business letter envelope size. Its just as effective and any printer should be able to accommodate this size.

      There may be a little bit of learning initially, but once you get the hang of it the process is very simple and easily repeatable.

  12. Thank you Chris for this valuable post. I have one question about banked owned properties, if we find one can we short sale it? And also are there other assumptions to verify that its a banke owned property?

  13. Hi Chris,

    I am coming to this a little late, but I am just trying to learn about everything. Thank you for being so clear. Even this post about one part of the process is the first time I am beginning to understand what wholesaling is and the efforts it may entail. I’m going to find the rest of your articles that are referred to in the comments.


  14. Hi Chris,
    I’ve found your information very helpful, but I was wondering if you could release a little more information on using queries on the TAD website, with respect to neighborhood tax rates?

  15. Chris this is amazing post you sent out highly helpfull i am new and getting all what you said together i will be doing some serious walking and find me some properties thank you chris can i ask you any question regarding wholesaling is okay

  16. Chris,

    Do you have any experience or knowledge whether this strategy can directly be applied in Canada as well? I am not sure if we have a database like the local Central Appraisal District (CAD).
    Regardless, great post. Loved it.


  17. Lance Van Buren

    I feel that this blog about Driving for Dollars part #1 and #2 has got to be one of the all time best, information packed articles on BP. I am sure others on here will agree with that assessment. I cant thank you enough. I read it today and I am already incorporating into my lead generation.


    Chris would you mind if I contacted you via email. I have a couple questions.

  18. Dale Hinkley

    The problem I’m running into in my neighborhood is every house I run into is already bank owned. They have a paper in the window stating the property is being managed by… and the house has been winterized by… I’m getting frustrated because I’m on a tight budget and driving for dollars is my best option as we are starting out as wholesalers. My wife ran into a few properties where the elderly parents passed on or moved out and spoke with the families about if they wanted to sell ect.. and all of them went the realtor route. So far driving for dollars isn’t working for me. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  19. Maria Graciela Wysocki

    Great post, Chris, with excellent ideas. Thank you, you just gave me the push up that I was looking for. I am new in BP and REI.
    I would like if you or anybody can give me an advice. As I have only a few thousands, I was looking in areas that are less than $60,000, handyman kind of, single family homes. Knowing that the profit I can make is low, no more than 10,000 or 15,000. My family wants me to go to bank’s loan and go for something in a better area. I prefer to start slowly ,adding more cash every time I sell a house.
    Any idea ? Thank you

  20. Tom Harrington

    Like everyone above stated, great article. I am new REI and to your blog. Great actionable ideas. One question for you. Where did you have the birddog cards made? I would like to get a few of those in to my mail carrier’s hand. And some of his co-workers too!

  21. michael dunn

    Question Please,
    How would you ago about submitting and trying to find / get ahold of the Owner of the Property, If you Do NOT have Cash on hand to purchase the Property, but instead HAVE TO use Bank Financing for the Purchase, as well as the Rehab ….. So a Portfolio Loan ?

    Thanks so much for the help and for a great article

  22. Benjamin Voorhis

    Anyone have an idea of how to find out how long the current owner has lived in the property? Looking on my districts tax site only showed me the previous owner’s deed date and not the current owner. Maybe Im missing something… great post too!

  23. Nghi Le

    Have you tried printing the picture of the house on photo paper and using it as a postcard (putting your message and a stamp on the back)? It might stick out to them more than a small picture on the front of the letter.

  24. Christine Nicolella

    Wow, what an awesome post! So much great information, thank you. I’m new to bigger pockets and found your post one of the best I’ve read so far. Do you get the majority of your deals this way? I’m thinking this is the best way for me to go as I love to drive and look for properties.

  25. Julia Shevchenko

    Thanks for an awesome crash course in driving for cash. I’m wondering if I can use a reverse technique for finding properties, for lease options for example. As in keeping an eye on listed properties that are not selling for a long time, and then contacting the owner to see if they want to sell privately or do a lease option deal. I also don’t want to undercut any realtors, and do it in a legal matter.

    • Ryan Dossey

      You would have to do this when it hits the “expired” phase. Or… be prepared to pay the 3% +/- that they are due for their commission. Most listings are exclusive agency listings meaning they get paid if it sells regardless of if they brought the buyer or not.

  26. Marilyn Mike

    Hi Chris
    Love this post!! It was so helpful in me getting started, getting ou there. Haven’t got deal yet, but I’ve done mailers after having driven for dollars looking for distressed, abandoned properties and absentee owners. I have some distressed “financially” property owners still in house. How would be handled? Have you ever done any of these?

  27. AJ Randle

    Love it and very useful information! Ohh BP how you come to our rescue! My direct mail campaign to absentee owners resulted in a few vacant property returned mailers. I’m interested to see how the follow-up goes upon reaching the newly found address for the property owners. I am particularly interested in one. She’s 73 years old, recent widow (4 years) has two properties and I am almost positive this could be golden! Great Post Chris!

  28. Aj Randle,
    I myself have just done the Direct Mail to Absentee Owners as well.

    What please did you write on the card that you put in the Envelope?
    I ask, because you got replies from these Absentee owners , and I may need to tweak somethings on my cards to get responded back too

    Thanks so much

  29. Steven Martin

    I’m preparing to start driving for dollars in pursuit of my first flip (I’ve only done buy-and-hold rehab deals off the MLS so far), and I just gleaned some solid tips from your article, Chris. Figured I’d thank you for sharing, and share a related idea of my own . . .

    One thing I’ll be doing that’s not mentioned yet in the comments: biking for dollars. My market is York, PA—a small (pop. 40K) and condensed urban area. And I’m an avid cyclist. A bike will actually get me between the areas I’m targeting faster than a car will, and get me through each of them at a perfect pace for scoping any properties. Plus, I get to get some cycling in, which I hardly have time for anymore, given my full-time gub’ment job, my part-time job as a loan originator for a brokerage, and my REI activity. Epiphany: your mention of soliciting postal carriers has me only just now realizing, my fellow cyclist pals would make good bird-doggers! Another thanks to you, Chris, for inspiring the insight!

  30. Tiara Stewart-Cannon

    I read a ton of blog posts, but I don’t usually comment. I’ve also come across the concept of driving for dollars numerous times on BP and the forums. However, this article was so informative and presented in such an engaging way that I had to stop and commend you Chris! The picture on the envelope idea is really innovative too and I already plan to implement it!!! Thanks!

  31. Dustin Mellor

    Great article but I’m not sure where to look in my tax assessor website to find the owners name and address. I’ve found a “Property Detail Information” page and I’ve found the tax statements but nothing seems to have owner info. Anyone have any advice on where to look for this info? I’m sure each county’s site is different but should be somewhat similar. I’m looking in Clackamas County Oregon. Their site is http://www.clackamas.us/at/.

    Thanks for any help!


  32. Lee Ripma

    You can get the app Theodolite for your iphone and take photos using it. This allows you to a put a custom note on each photo with the address. It also stamps the photo with the date, time, and lat/long. Once you have a custom note on the photo it will copy it to the next photo. So you just change the note each time you arrive at a different address, very easy!

  33. “Vacant properties stand out like a sore thumb, as they won’t have decorations during the holidays”

    I have to chuckle at this statement, I don’t put decorations out for any holiday.

  34. Jason Duet

    As many have said already in the comments, great article! As someone who’s chosen wholesaling as my path to enter the REI world, I’ve read countless articles and blog posts, but what stood out to me on this particular one was the use of images. That made the information much easier to digest. Very helpful!

  35. Miguel Martinez

    Hey Chris! Great blog and very informative.

    I’m fairly new to REI and don’t have an office yet. My mentor advised me not to use my home address as the return address for these direct mails. My question is what’s the next best address to use then?

  36. Leonel Rodriguez

    Thank you for this info. I’ve been trying to get started on wolesaling but I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to. Now I’m getting more confident that this is something that I’d like to do, and now, know that I can do it.

  37. christopher williams

    Hello Chris, I just wanted to say thanks for this great article of information. I do have one questions, where did you get the map of the tax assessed value of the area you wanted to drive through. Is there a certain website or did you just google it?

  38. Kyle Good

    This is a great article! I’m actually headed out today to drive a few neighborhoods and wanted to brush up on all the info. This article goes above and beyond what I thought I knew. Good call on time of day to go. I didn’t even think about going around holidays to look for no decorations. Thanks for the info, I’ll let you know how it goes today.

  39. Christina Varner

    My husband and I went searching for abandoned properties in our area for date night last week and I found one that I immediately fell in love with. On Zillow, all it said was “Off Market” and there was no other information available. Initially, I was very disappointed, but I’ve been telling my husband for the past couple of days that “I’m buying this property!” I don’t care if it’s months, or years from now, I just know it is mine! Tonight, I stumbled upon this article and just spent several hours researching and following all of the steps to locate the owners. The CAD had nothing, but I kept looking and with the help of the Register of Deeds I finally got their name, address and phone numbers!! AND it turns out they live 2 streets away from me!! Thank you so much for all of your advice, Chris! I can’t wait to see where this lead takes me!

  40. Ryan Catchings

    I loved this article! Extremely insightful. Shoutout to you Chris!
    And thanks for the terrific reference BiggerPockets; it was mentioned here –> Investing in Real Estate with No Money and Low Money Down, if I’m not mistaken.

  41. Christopher Cavanagh

    JAKE MATHEWS on NOVEMBER 23, 2018 12:27 PM
    Thanks for all the great info in this article!

    One more thing I would add: Instead of manually searching for homeowner information on your local CAD, you can use a service to automate this and save literally hours of time. I personally use https://reiautomation.io, but i know there are others as well!


    I tried to sign up for the $49.99 yearly subscription at https://reiautomation.io. Instead of getting instant access it said they would email me in 1-2 business days. I’ve been waiting 4 business days for that email now and I’ve received nothing. I just emailed [email protected] tonight because that was the only email I could find on the site. Is this site legitimate? Has anyone else had success with this site?

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