Success in real estate investing begins with finding the best real estate investment deals. However, real estate markets in many areas have gotten very competitive, making it hard for investors to find good deals. In hot markets, finding real estate deals can be a very frustrating endeavor. So, what can you do? To gain a competitive edge, you need to look elsewhere for the real estate deals- not just the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). You can do so by searching for off market homes.
What Are Off Market Homes?
Off market homes or pocket listings are properties that are not listed on the MLS or any other sites that re-broadcast the MLS. A property owner may also be considering to sell but is yet to make any efforts to do so. Whatever the reason, off market homes are great deals for investors. When buying a house for investment, finding one of these deals means less competition, cheaper prices, and a quicker sale. In fact, these are the hot deals that savvy investors are constantly seeking. But, since they are not advertised publicly, how can you find them?
If you’ve been thinking about taking advantage of the benefits of buying off market deals but aren’t confident you know how to find off market homes for sale, you’ve found the right resource. Here are 10 easy strategies you can use:
How to Find Off Market Homes for Investment
1. Real Estate Agents
While real estate agents are generally more familiar with MLS properties, they can also be of great help when it comes to finding off market homes. With their knowledge and experience, they are usually privy to the properties in the area that are yet to go on the market. Some agents even have their own websites where they list their pocket listings.
However, not all agents are the same. Make sure you work with a real estate agent who is familiar with your target market and has experience with off market homes. They are more likely to know where off market properties are located in the area. When you find a neighborhood that interests you, contact and interview real estate agents that work in the area to find one that is a good fit for you.
Related: Working with a Real Estate Agent: What Investors Should Expect
2. Word of Mouth
Real estate investing is a people business. Therefore, one of the best ways to find off market homes for sale is through word of mouth. Basically anyone you encounter, even if they aren’t directly involved in real estate, can lead you to pocket listings. Start with people you know like friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and other professionals in your life. They may have an off market property they intend to sell but don’t know you are interested or they may know someone who has one. Also, be friendly to other people you interact with and let them know that you are looking for off market real estate properties. They may be aware of such opportunities and offer to help. You never know who will lead you to your next off market real estate deal.
3. Online Real Estate Websites
The easiest way to find off market homes is probably using websites. Not only is this a cost-efficient method, but anyone can gain access to these sites with ease. Some real estate websites allow agents and sellers to advertise their property some days before it is listed on the MLS. There are many websites that feature off market real estate listings, including Mashvisor. However, to take advantage of online off market listings, you need to track these websites regularly so that you stay ahead of the competition.
The Mashvisor Property Marketplace is one of the best tools you can use to search for and analyze off market properties to find the ideal investment opportunity for you. It has a vast supply of off market properties, including tenant-occupied rentals, foreclosures, and more.
Related: What Are the Best Real Estate Websites that Every Investor Needs to Know About?
4. Real Estate Wholesalers
Wholesalers can also lead you to off market homes. They are middlemen who specialize in finding distressed properties that are yet to be listed for sale, putting them under contract, and selling the contract to buyers. They will do the leg work of finding off market properties and finding buyers to wholesale to. Therefore, networking with wholesalers is a great way to find off market deals in your area. However, since a wholesaler is a middleman, you will pay a bit more than if you went directly to the source.
5. Real Estate Auctions
Real estate auctions are great for those looking for off the market homes for investment because they always provide a steady stream of off market properties. In fact, many investors have found great off market real estate deals at their local real estate auctions. You can find auction properties, including short sales, foreclosures, and real estate owned (REO) properties by periodically browsing auction websites like Auction.com and RealtyTrac. You can also keep track of auctions at your local courthouse or through your current networks.
Once you find a property you like, confirm the auction status, do your due diligence on the investment property, understand the bidding procedure, and set a budget before you decide to buy at auction. Keep in mind that you will also need to act quickly.
Related: A Quick Guide to Buying Property at Auction
6. Estate Attorneys
Estate attorneys can be great resources for knowing about properties that might be coming to the market soon. Network with attorneys by joining local networking groups. Work to build relationships with them and talk to them about your investment work. You want to be at the top of their minds when potential off market homes arise. This way, they will be able to clue you in.
7. Local Contractors
Local contractors and other tradesmen could also lead you to hot off market real estate deals. They are constantly in touch with people in the business and are likely to have insider information on investment properties that might become available soon. For instance, they may have been on a job, which for whatever reason, wasn’t able to get completed. You can ask the contractors that you regularly work with or others in your area to see if they know of any properties that might become available soon. These can offer great opportunities for real estate investors to step in, complete the work, and make a profit.
8. Examine Public Records
You can also find off market homes by examining public records. Keeping up to date on public records can tip you off to homes that may be going up for auction soon. This may include pre-foreclosures and short sales, both of which can offer profitable investment opportunities. To get leads on such homes, check your local newspapers and government websites. You can also set up alerts on websites like HUD Home Store so that you know when up-and-coming properties are listed.
9. Driving For Dollars
Another effective, easy, and free strategy you can use to find off market homes is driving through local neighborhoods to scope out any potential deals. When driving for dollars, pay attention to vacant or distressed properties. They are usually easy to spot since they often have overgrown yards, boarded up windows, or look dilapidated.
As you find potential leads, note down the addresses and search for the property owners. You can use Mashboard’s database to find out who owns a property. When you get their contact info, you can then reach out to them and inquire about the status of the home. Determine if the house is for sale and if it might be a good real estate investment.
10. Direct Mail Marketing
Direct marketing is one of the most efficient ways to secure off market homes for investment. You can send direct mails or postcards to property sellers saying that you’re interested in purchasing real estate properties. You could also advertise in a local newspaper expressing your interest in buying property. This could be an incentive for home sellers that haven’t listed their properties publicly to contact you. Actually, some homeowners may not be ready to sell unless they are presented with a good offer. To implement this strategy, make sure you do research to understand your target audience and pick the best advertising venues to reach them. This can be a costly endeavor, so make sure you are getting a good return on investment.
The Bottom Line
Even though finding off market homes is not easy, it is definitely worth it. They make for some of the best real estate investments. Finding these properties can give you a competitive edge over other investors and help you get better deals. With these strategies, you will be able to easily find off market property and grow your portfolio.
To start looking for and analyzing the best off market investment properties in your city and neighborhood of choice, click here.