Personal Development

Opportunity is Everywhere: How I Found Deals While Running Errands

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Landlording & Rental Properties, Business Management, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Commercial Real Estate
161 Articles Written

I have come to learn there are three types of people in the world.

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  • Person 1 sees opportunities everywhere.
  • Person 2 complains everyone else is getting the opportunities.
  • Person 3 says, “What opportunities?”

Hi, all. Liz back this week to talk about a recent and unexpected experience where I uncovered some real estate opportunities. You might be asking yourself, "What is the big deal?" Well, this really would not be a big deal, except that I found these deals unplanned while my 17-month-old son and I ran an errand for my husband. I hope you enjoy this case study and that it inspires you to look for opportunities everywhere you go!

The Story

Over the past several weeks, I’ve listened to my husband Matt complain about his car needing service desperately. I have had to hear about how his tail light doesn’t work, his car needs an oil change, and his windshield wiper is out of service. So, after having heard enough and being the good wife that I am, I told my husband that I would graciously switch cars with him and take his car to be serviced while I was looking after our little guy during the week.

Related: Opportunity is Everywhere: How to Uncover Hidden Real Estate Deals

So, with my very active and curious 17-month-old son, I headed over to the Mazda dealership. I did not make an appointment (since that seemed way too complicated), so I just showed up and asked how long it would take for our car to be serviced. They assured me that it would only be 45 minutes. So I thought to myself, there is a TV in the waiting room and between the snacks and toys I brought for my son, he should be all set! Forty-five minutes will go by in a breeze.

Well, I was completely wrong. (This seems to happen a lot as a new mom!)

After only 5 minutes, my son was done with his snack and was already bored with the toys I brought him. He had no interest in the TV show, and all he wanted to do was run around the dealership. Although he's absolutely adorable, this was very distracting to the dealership employees. I knew I had to do something different while we waited.

Luckily, I brought in his stroller, and it was a nice day out. So I gave the dealership my cell phone number to call me when my car was ready, and we were off to take a walk. I did not know the area very well, so I was not really sure where to go.

I found a couple of stores right next to the dealership; however, one was a grocery store and the other was an Italian restaurant. Although both seemed appealing, I was not in the position to enjoy either of them under these circumstances!

So I went back to the dealership and thought to myself, if worse comes to worse, I will just loop around and around the parking lot of the dealership with my son. I began walking around the dealership and saw out of the corner of my eye a housing development behind the dealership. It was a little bit of a walk, but I thought to myself, what else do I have to do?

I need to kill some time anyway!

I began walking towards this well maintained housing development. Immediately, I thought to myself, this would be a great place to do a buy-fix-flip project.

What made me think this, you might ask…?

First, all properties were single family homes. Secondly, most properties were nicely landscaped, well maintained, and had one or two car garages. I saw young moms walking with strollers, and kids outside playing together. I thought to myself, this must be in a great school district! I later found out that the area was actually in one of the top school districts in the county!

As I walked around, I wrote down the addresses for two different properties:

  1. Properties that were for sale. Not that we wanted to buy them, but I was curious what the asking price was, what amenities were included and what was selling in this area. In other words, this would help me understand the local market better.
  2. Properties that did not have a “for sale” sign up, but looked dilapidated and in desperate need of work. Now, in a nice area like I was in, this is a little harder to find, but it is possible.

Deals I Turned Over

During my long walk with my son, I took pictures and wrote down the addresses of about five properties. There were three properties that needed a lot of work, but were not technically for sale. I also saw two properties that were for sale and took down the address and realtor’s name/phone number.

This took me over an hour to do. Obviously it would have been a lot quicker if I was driving, but I moved as fast as I could while pushing my son’s stroller. I had more ground to cover, but an hour had passed so I decided to go back to the dealership.

Once I got my husband’s car back, I spent the next half hour driving around all the neighborhoods that I could not get to by foot. I uncovered a few more properties that were for sale and a couple that were dilapidated without a “for sale” sign.

A Learning Opportunity

Besides the fact that I learned about a great area and uncovered some buy-fix-flip opportunities, I also discovered the fact that there are REO (real estate owned) deals listed on specific bank's websites that are not listed in the MLS. While I was reaching out to a few realtors after I got back to my office, I spoke to one who told me to look directly on bank's websites for REO properties.

So, I looked on and found a couple of deals in the area I was looking that were bank owned, but not listed on the MLS. I called the realtor about the property, and she is going to call me as soon as the property does go on the MLS. Therefore, we will be one of the first investors in line to receive the head’s up on this property!

Related: Potential Seller Financing Flipping Opportunity: What are the Options? (Follow-up… I Got an Offer!)


When I began that ordinary Wednesday with my son, I thought I was going to achieve the goal of helping my husband out with an errand. Instead, I found some fix/flip deals to research further, made some new contacts with realtors, and learned about a new way to find more deals.

Every day we all are given the choice to be the person who sees opportunities everywhere, to be the person who complains everyone else is getting the opportunities, or to be the person who says, “What opportunities?” I truly believe there are opportunities everywhere if we just open our eyes and become present in the moment.

I hope this story inspires you to keep your eyes peeled and remain open to possibilities all around you.

Have you ever found a real estate opportunity unexpectedly?

Please share your experiences with me in the comments section below!

Matt Faircloth, co-founder and president of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, i...
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    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article! When in a business like this, one needs to not hesitate when an opportunity presents itself, no matter where it’s presenting itself. Thanks for sharing your insight!
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks Jordan for reading the post! I appreciate your comment! All the best to you as you look for opportunities!!
    Anna VW Finance and Investor from Calgary, AB
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hello- this is my first post. And i agree with Jordan, thanks for the inspiration ! Sometimes you have to follow your intuition 🙂
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Anna, First and foremost, good for you for taking action and getting active on BP! BP is a tremendous community with terrific members and amazing insight! And you are so welcome! Glad the post was inspiring to you. All the best to you on your investing journey. Remember it is not a sprint – it is a marathon! All the best to you!! Good luck!! Liz
    Val Dychok Software Developer from Conway, Arkansas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great story, thanks Liz!
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks Val! Appreciate you taking the time to read the post and comment!!
    Emmy K. Real Estate Agent from Louisville, Kentucky
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I called a “for rent” sign and fingers crossed my husband and I will close on our first investment– a 12 unit apartment building 20% less than last years appraisal! I too walk our two year old often and scope out neighborhoods. Checking bank websites now, thanks for the tip!
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Emmy – That is absolutely great! My husband and I found our very first investment property many years ago (a duplex) by calling “for rent” ads as well! Good for you guys!! All the best and fingers crossed for a terrific closing!!! So glad that the “bank website” tip was helpful. Good luck to you and thanks for commenting! Liz
    Tekesha Jackson from Kirkland, WA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article and good information. I never would’ve thought to look on the bank websites. I’ll definitely be walking my neighborhood instead of driving. Thank you for the tips!
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Tekesha, Thanks so much! I tell you – we have been in the business for over 10 years, and continue to learn new things every week! I guess that is what makes it interesting! Good luck to you and thanks again for commenting and reading! Liz
    Courtney Merricks Wholesaler from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hi Elizabeth, Great article! Definitely thank you for the wonderful tip with searching the banks websites for REO properties. Being a newbie, I do a lot of driving for dollars. Also I need to make sure I am calling the “For Rent” signs I normally see in my area. I see that there could possibly some deals there. I would normally see a for rent sign and continue driving without writing the contact information and property address down. I honestly did not think those property owners would be interested in selling. Again, thank you for writing this article and the wonderful tip… Many blessings to you, your family and your business. Courtney
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Courtney, Thanks for your comment and feedback! So glad the tips and suggestions included were helpful to you! All the best with your adventure in real estate investing! Many blessings to you as well!! All the best, Liz
    Teresia M. Real Estate Investor from Cartersville, Georgia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Fantastic, way to discover a new area and hidden gems just be running errands. I’ve made several discoveries just that way. When I drop my daughter off at school, I often go back home via another route or when I go shop or visit a different area, I plan extra time to tour the surrounding neighborhoods. There are hidden gems everywhere. Thanks for sharing and love the tip on REO properties.
    Elizabeth Faircloth Real Estate Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Teresia, Thanks for your note! I love your idea of driving home a different route! I am going to try this idea this week! Glad the other tips helped you as well! I completely agree – there are hidden gems everywhere!! Thanks again for reading and commenting! Best, Liz
    Account Closed Real Estate Agent from Flint, Michigan
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Excellent and inspiring! I don’t tend to look in developing areas for deals, but you have inspired me to be more open minded in my search. Thanks a million!