9 Ways To Find Off Market Real Estate Listings
Off market real estate deals can offer a number of perks to investors, making them highly sought after. However, due to their desirable nature, many investors may be questioning how to find off market real estate.
There are a number of ways to identify off market real estate deals, all of which should come as no surprise to investors. I recommend pursuing more than one strategy at a time, to ensure the best results. For those interested in getting started, here are some of the best ways to identify off market real estate for sale:
- Direct Mail Marketing
- Online Resources
- Real Estate Agents
- Builders & Contractors
- Public Record
- Word Of Mouth
- Real Estate Auction
Direct Mail Marketing
One of the most efficient ways to find off market real estate deals is through direct mail marketing. Define your target home seller and send out postcards or other ads that express your interest in purchasing their home. Sometimes, homeowners don’t even know they are ready to sell unless they are presented with an attractive offer.
Before implementing this marketing strategy, however, be sure to mind your due diligence. Not only should you research the traits of your target audience, but also the best ad venues to reach your ideal customer. From postcards and yellow letters to bus bench ads, the options are endless. If you do try implementing a direct mail strategy, it is also important to keep in mind that you may not see results right away. Do not get discouraged if you find yourself strategizing more than one direct mail campaign without a response. This remains one of the best ways to identify off market real estate deals.
While online websites like Zillow and Trulia primarily feature properties listed on the MLS, they can be used to find off market deals occasionally. How? Take Zillow for example: Zillow allows sellers to list their properties 30 days before the property is listed on the MLS. To take advantage of this, investors should track these sites regularly so that they stay ahead of the competition.
There are also a number of websites that feature off market real estate listings. Websites such as FOMRE promise a variety of perks for buyers and sellers; most notably, they allow real estate transactions to take place without ever being listed on the MLS. Keep in mind that while identifying properties online is cost efficient, you may have better luck with more proactive lead generation strategies. Due to the popularity of the internet, even off market listings featured online may be highly competitive. That being said, do not completely rule out this strategy––you never know what you might find.
Networking is arguably the best lead generation strategy in the real estate world, and that holds true with off market properties. You may find that networking becomes easier with time and practice, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
When it comes to networking, I recommend searching for real estate events in your area. You can check out your local REIA, bulletin boards or Facebook, to find groups who may be meeting around you. Additionally, you may want to ask your existing real estate connections to build your network. Because off market listings are just that, off market, networking is often the most popular way to identify and acquire such deals. If you are interested in any form of real estate investing, I recommend building a network, but particularly if you are seeking off market real estate deals.
Real Estate Agents
While real estate agents are most familiar with properties on the MLS, they can also be just as savvy when it comes to finding off market deals. To improve your chances of success, and to get ahead of the competition, contact a Realtor who is familiar with the market you wish to purchase in. Agents are often privy to which properties are just about to go on the market.
For investors interested in pursuing this strategy, I recommend curating a list of the top agents in the market area you wish to buy in. You can reach out by phone or email and ask for any off market listings they may be aware of. Although, before reaching out to an agent, be sure to check their website; often times, their pocket listings will be cataloged online. Additionally, keep in mind that even if a particular real estate agent cannot offer help with your current search, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future. Leave your contact information with anyone you speak to, so they know how to reach you if need be.
Builders & Contractors
In addition to real estate agents, builders and contractors are good friends to have if you’re an investor looking to find hot, off market deals. Local builders are usually “in the know” about properties where the homeowner or investor abandoned the job mid project because he or she didn’t have the financing to finish the construction. While this situation is unfortunate for the seller, it can be quite fortuitous for the investor ready to swoop in, finish the job, and turn a profit at closing.
Contractors and other tradesman are constantly in touch with people in the business. If you’re lucky, they can lead you directly to pocket listings in your area—just be sure you’re completely transparent throughout all your networking experiences. Let people know you are an investor looking for off market properties. This way, you will begin to earn the trust and build the respect of other real estate professionals in your market.
Wholesalers are great friends to have if you’re an investor looking for off market properties. Why? Because wholesalers specialize in just that: real estate wholesaling. At its core, wholesaling consists of finding a discounted property, putting it under contract, assigning the contract to a potential buyer, and charging that new buyer a fee. Often times, those discounted properties wholesalers find are off market properties.
Keep in mind, however, that working with a wholesaler is like working with middleman, meaning you likely won’t get as good of a deal as if you went directly to the source. As a general rule, networking with wholesalers is a great way to stay in the loop of off market homes in your area. Remember, even if they do not present you with opportunities in the moment, they may reach out to you in the future if something comes their way.
It is a great idea to keep up to date on public records, which will often feature pre foreclosures or short sale properties, both of which can offer lucrative investment opportunities. I recommend surveying newspapers and state and local government websites in order to do so. Occasionally, these sources will also mention real estate properties that are soon to be listed, offering yet another opportunity for savvy investors.
One of the best tips for those looking for off market real estate deals is to set up alerts on websites like HUD Home Store, who can let you know when up-and-coming properties are listed online. Additionally, when surveying public records, you may encounter expired listings. In these instances, do not be afraid to contact the seller directly. As a real estate investor, it is a good idea to stay current on public records; after all, they may lead you to your next deal.
Word Of Mouth
No matter how you look at it, real estate investing is a people business. Anyone you encounter—from your family to your friends—should know who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. The more you employ word of mouth marketing, the more people will think of you when they see an off market property. This is similar to building a network; however, do not shy away from a potential connection simply because they are not directly involved in real estate. You never know who will lead you to your next investment deal.
Real Estate Auctions
Auctions are great for investors who specialize in off market deals because they always have a steady stream of foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) properties. Periodically browse auction websites to find deals that have potential. I recommend scanning websites such as RealtyTrac or Auction.com for potential leads. Both of these sources contain information on foreclosures, bank-owned properties and short sales. In addition to scanning online, you can also keep track of auctions at the county courthouse or through your network connections.
Once you find an attractive property, confirm its auction status, location and bidding procedure (and be prepared to act fast). Before showing up to a real estate auction, be sure you’ve done your research ahead of time. Thoroughly research the neighborhood and property specs, and set a budget that you won’t exceed. Following these steps will allow you to stay focused and within budget—should you find yourself ready to take on a real estate auction.