Real estate companies and investors have hit on the idea of hiring drivers from Uber and other ride-sharing firms to help them search for new properties to flip. The theory is that the drivers can serve as an extra pair of eyes for such companies, helping to spot rough diamonds on their routes that could be transformed and sold on for a profit.
The Wall Street Journal reports how one company, called CORI, has hired several drivers from Uber and Lyft. The firm has trained those drivers in what to look for in a home that could potentially be flipped, such as warning notices on the doors, abandoned cars in the driveway, overgrown yards and piled up mail.
“It’s a great way to be able to reach areas that I can’t drive around town all day,” Scott Sekulow, who runs a HomeVestors franchise in Atlanta, told The Wall Street Journal. “You don’t need a lot to know the house needs repairs.”
The drivers are paid in one of two ways – either a straightforward finder’s fee for each “productive” lead they find, or a commission based on the eventual profit of each home that’s flipped. The method of compensation varies per company, with some drivers simply being paid for photos of each property candidate they submit.
“You kind of have to make it worth their while because it can be a long time between when that deal comes in and when you actually close,” said Krystal Polite, co-founder of Polite Properties in Adamance County, N.C. She said her company has hired drivers to find potential flip houses in 20 states.
CORI’s cofounder Eric Richner told the Journal he’s hired around 100 drivers, and hopes to have as many as 1,000 helping him by the end of the year. One benefit is that Uber and Lyft drivers help reduce the time it takes for his company to find suitable properties on its own, he said.
House flipping has become a big business for some real estate firms. Indeed, real estate data provider CoreLogic says around 40% of all flips are performed by companies, instead of private individuals as was traditionally the case.