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Google Maps: A Fix and Flip Investor's Most Important Tool

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Give a man a hammer and every problem is a nail.”

This may be true, but hammers are awesome. Especially sledgehammers. As a matter of fact, the sledgehammer is the only tool our crews allow us to use at our fix and flip projects in Phoenix and Milwaukee (if you’re fixing and flipping houses and do some, or all of the work yourself, read this article to find out why you shouldn’t be).

We use a lot of “tools” to evaluate our properties and determine after repair value (ARV), including a deal analysis worksheet and scope of work.

I’m also on the multiple listing service (MLS) in Phoenix and Milwaukee almost everyday looking for new properties to buy. However, my favorite tool is Google Maps. And more specifically Google Maps street view.

Last week, while shopping on the Milwaukee multiple listing service for new distressed properties to buy, I stumbled across this listing. Check out the photo and property info…

Looks pretty nice right? Well, besides all of the snow.

The home is a duplex and is priced right, about 60% below after repair value. It’s also in an area of Milwaukee we like to buy. Once I come across a possible deal my next step is to check the address in Google Maps. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  1. How the home is situated on the street

  2. What the homes next door and down the street look like (pride of ownership)

  3. Proximity to busy roads, businesses, etc.

An aerial view will show you all of this, but the best way to get a feel for the area is to click the street view option. Check out what I found out about this cute little bungalow that I thought was a killer deal…

The property is wedged in between the busy I-94 Interstate and two high-traffic surface streets. There may as well be a racetrack surrounding this house. The location is awful. Unfortunately, there will not be many retail buyers (or tenants) that would consider living in this property.

Shopping for houses to fix and flip can be time consuming. I’m always looking for tools to make this process more efficient. And after 14 years in the business, Google Maps is one of my favorites. Best of all, it’s free.

It allows me to quickly rule out a deal and move on to the next. But as much as I appreciate Google Maps, hammers are still better.

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