I have one big warning before answering this question. In many states, it is illegal for you to receive a fee or other compensation for helping someone find real estate opportunities, unless you have a real estate license. In California, for example, only licensed real estate professionals can find opportunities for flippers and receive a fee in return. To find out about your own state, check out Appendix E with the list of all state real estate licensing commissions and bureaus. Call, or visit their websites, and ask about any restrictions for your state.
In my own state of Alabama, for example, it is a Class A misdemeanor to receive compensation in exchange for scouting properties for someone else. It is punishable by up to one year in prison, and up to a $6,000 fine.
If allowed, you can be a scout for investors or flippers. As you can probably already tell, a flipper has to sift through a lot of information to find the right property that will translate into big profits. In order to work efficiently, a flipper will often pay scouts a small fee for tips regarding opportunities. The fee is usually $500 to $1,000, and the fee is paid only if the flipper buys the property he or she learned about from the scout. While the fee is not a lot on any one deal, if you are really hooked into your community, you could easily earn six, twelve, or even twenty scout fees a year. If an extra $3,000 to $20,000 a year would make a significant difference in your lifestyle, then you might want to think about this route.
To be successful, the scout needs to know almost as much as the flipper about the particular type of deals that interest the flipper. If you are just giving random, possibly useless information to your flipper, then you are the equivalent of a junk mailer, rather than a valuable resource. You will be ignored fairly quickly as you lose credibility.
Many scouts build up nest eggs from the fees and valuable experience gained from watching and listening to their flippers. Once their investments in these two areas reach critical mass, they are ready to go out and do their own flips.