Business Management

2 Unexpected (But Invaluable) People to Add to Your Real Estate Team

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
99 Articles Written

There is a horrible property around the corner from me. There are at least 3 dead cars on the side of the house, the lawn is always armpit-high, and the mailbox is so stuffed with mail that the front doesn’t close. My dream home.

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I am a licensed real estate agent, and my MLS access gives me an easy in to the public record. A quick search showed the name of the owner. Another few mouse clicks, and I see his property taxes are up to date. Hmmm, with the state of this house, I can't imagine why someone wouldn't just sell it.

Then I see the lot on an online map. Ah-ha! Lightbulb moment. This property sits on a double-deep lot. But wait, there’s more! It is an “L” shaped lot, and the double-deep portion of the property next door is also part of this property. This baby can potentially be subdivided into 3 lots. In a very hot area of my very hot town. I see dollar signs and wish to purchase this property.

I search the property records to see if he owns something else in the area. The only way he is still in this property is if he is mummified. I find nothing in my county in his name. He has a unique name, and a nationwide search pulls up exactly one of him. A little digging shows where he went to college and that he used to own a property in Florida, but no longer. The trail grows cold, and every time I pass his house, I get antsy. Someone else is going to find this awesome, horrible house.

Related: The 10 Step Guide for Hiring Your Very First Team Member

The Mailman

My mailman has been on this same route for about 100 years. He knows everyone, and can tell you not only how long they have lived here, but also who lived there before them and where they moved to.

Me: “Hey Joe. You know that house around the corner – 123 XYZ Street? The one with the super tall weed farm in the front yard and the dead ambulances on the side?”

Joe: “Oh, I know that house. Their other house flooded two years ago, and they moved to the next town over. I keep telling her to forward her mail, but she never does. Her name is Jane Doe.”

Me: “Thanks, Joe.”

My 2-minute conversation with Joe has put me back on the trail of this house — and could make me some serious cash for a fairly small amount of work.

The Pet Sitter

Possibly my favorite person in my neighborhood is Kristina. She is a pet sitter, so she is in and out of houses all day long, all over the city.

We were at a park with our kids one day, and I noticed a strong farm aroma. STRONG. I mentioned this to her, and she said, “Oh yeah, don’t ever buy a house in that neighborhood,” pointing to the subdivision across the street. “On hot summer days, you can’t even go outside, the smell is so bad.”

This is the kind of information you can only get from boots on the ground, and your local pet sitter can be that person. Kristina has told me what neighborhoods have yet to come up, what houses are poorly constructed, and where the lowest water pressure is found in our fair city.

“This neighborhood doesn’t have any sidewalks, and the streets are narrow, making it difficult to safely walk.” I don’t think I would have noticed that if she hadn’t said something, but I see it now every time I drive through.

We had record rainfall two years ago, and massive flooding. Kristina has an amazing memory and remembers what neighborhoods flooded because she had clients all around town.

Related: 3 Highly Effective Business Professionals to Add to Your Real Estate Team

She has alerted me to sections of town I didn’t even know existed, and when an opportunity came up earlier this year for a four-plex, she had actually been in the property and gave me an enormous amount of information that the current owner might have left out — not to be deceptive, but because she may not have felt it was important.

Kristina calls me on a regular basis while she is walking dogs. “Did you see this house at 123 XYZ Street? It looks really cute!” or “There is a house for sale by owner at 456 ABC Street, want me to get the phone number?”

Both of these people have provided me with valuable information through their different experiences. Neither of them would think to just volunteer this information if they didn’t know I was a real estate investor.

Have you found someone off the beaten path who has proved to be a valuable asset to your team?

Share your stories in the comments section below!

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for almost 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

    Jarred Sleeth Lender from Washington, DC
    Replied over 4 years ago
    That house sounds like a heck of a deal! Great article, make sure everyone KNOWS you are an investor and you’re sure to improve your business.
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks, Jarred. I can’t tell you how many people in my real life think that house is a dump, eyesore, disgusting, etc. Almost no one gets why I would want to buy it. One more reason that BiggerPockets is such an awesome place – it is filled with people like us! During my real estate classes, they had an example from a very successful agent who said “I tell everyone I meet that I am an agent. I wear a nametag that prominently displays the name of my agency and my name and title. I always carry business cards with me. You never know who is looking to buy or sell, unless you talk to them about it.” I went out and bought a nametag as soon as I was licensed.
    Bob Baldwin Investor from Shelbyville, Kentucky
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I to use the local mail man / person to get leads on empty houses people suddenly moving etc; A good source lead for me has also been the Fed X and UPS drivers In My town and the surrounding towns they all seem to meet a lunch time which is usually at the end of their day at a certain Fast Food Joint on more than a few occasions I have gone down there and picked up their food/drink tab for giving me some leads .
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I haven’t had much luck with the FedEx/UPS guy, but I can see in different markets how they would be a good source. Thanks for the suggestion!
    Desiree Boston Investor from Hollywood, Florida
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hi Mindy, Love your post, will be looking to add these two to me team. Thanks
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for reading, Desiree!
    Terri B. from San Antonio, TX
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Love it! Thanks so much for giving me these ideas. Another one: Join (and be active in) your local woman’s / men’s clubs. They have usually lived in the area for DECADES and really have their pulse on the lives of our residents. Great source of information – and for making good friends!
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great idea, Terri. I am going to seek out a women’s club in my town. Thanks for sharing.
    Jacob Seaquist from Saint Michael, Minnesota
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great post! I’ve scheduled walk through’s during mail delivery times on more than a few occasions to shoot the ____ with mailmen/women to pick their brain on the area! Another great resource is the city inspector. They don’t have any interest in having an additional rental added to an already problematic area of town. Leal inSaint Cloud has never steered me wrong!
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    The City Inspector is another good source of information. They have been in and around town, and in numerous homes. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Cynthia Gillespie Investor from Seabrook, Texas
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Has anyone ever considered offering compensation to any of these sources as a form of motivation to really keep and eye out for potential deals? I’ve considered asking our carpet cleaning guy, handy man, Plumber, etc to be on the look out and simply supply an address of a property that meets our criteria. if the info leads to a purchase, we’d give them a “finder’s fee”. Just haven’t decided what would be an appropriate amount.
    Mindy Jensen BiggerPockets Community Manager from Longmont, CO
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Hi Cynthia. I get what you are wanting to do, but compensating someone for helping you buy real estate, when they don’t have a real estate license is against the law in most if not all states.
    Eliseo Medrano
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Mindy, holy smokes! Never even thought of that! I’m doing this asap!