Finding the right real estate deal is a huge part of being a successful real estate investor. So are there certain ways savvy investors find deals? There absolutely are, and some of them might surprise you.
Finding real estate deals is very competitive, so the more methods you have of locating potential deals, the more likely the chances are that you will find exactly what you’re looking for. Here are 18 different ways you can locate potential deals.
1) Use CraigsList
CraigsList is still the world’s largest online classified section. You can find deals here both by posting and browsing through the website. Often people who want to sell their property will go on CraigsList to connect with investors who are looking to buy.
So you can generate potential leads by putting up a post like “I BUY HOUSES FOR CASH”. There is a section on the site called “real estate for sale” where you can search out owners who are looking to sell. This can be a great way to connect with very motivated sellers.
2) Find Foreclosed Properties
If someone hasn’t paid their mortgage, their property will be foreclosed on by the bank. This can be an excellent opportunity to get a good deal. There are a few different ways to find foreclosed properties.
- Search bank websites. Many large banks often list foreclosed properties for sale on their website.
- Look for government owned listings. The Department of Housing and Urban Development lists properties on their website which you can potentially purchase for a good price.
- Visit the local county office. Foreclosure information is filed at the local office for your county and is often posted online. Sometimes you can even show up at the courthouse and purchase foreclosed properties on the spot.
- Pay for a foreclosure listing service. There are multiple services available online where you can access nationwide databases of foreclosed homes and homes approaching foreclosure.
3) Drive Around To Find Off Market Distressed Properties
While this one may be obvious, in the online world of today, some real estate investors neglect this method and can miss out on big opportunities.
What to look for when driving around:
- Boarded up windows
- Overgrown grass
- Overflowing mailboxes
- Code enforcement taped to the door
- Piled up newspapers
- For sale by owner signs (this usually indicates motivated sellers)
Tip for when to drive around: Drive around in the morning on trash day. That way all of the occupied homes will have their trash out front, while any vacant properties will not. This can help to identify potential off market deals that don’t have any other obvious signals.
When driving around make sure to take pictures of each property along with the address and any other notes. That way later on you have all of the data and can do the necessary follow up research. The next step is to find out who the owner is by any means necessary, including googling the property, searching public records or even asking the neighbors. Once you have this information you can attempt to get in contact with the owner and make an offer on the property.
4) Use The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Effectively
The MLS is an excellent place to find real estate deals. While it is very competitive, there are a few things you can do to use it to your advantage.
- Set up email alerts. You can set up the MLS so that whenever a property is listed that matches your criteria, you receive an email alert.
- Look for pending sales. Many investors overlook pending sales. But not all sales that are pending close! So by looking at these, you may be able to swoop in and pick up a great property if a deal falls through.
- Expand your search criteria. If you’re looking for a motivated seller for example, try using search terms like “must sell”, “considering all offers”, “probate”, “trustee”, “executor”.
5) Network With Everyone
Many of the best deals are going to be presented to you through your network. And you should be networking with everyone possible, even other real estate investors. While it may be counterintuitive, other investors can help you.
For example, an investor may find a deal he passes on for various reasons (working on another deal, doesn’t have enough cash etc.) which he can then pass over to you. A great way to meet other investors is to join a real estate club. That way you are around like minded people and you can start informing others of what exactly you are looking for. The main point here is to let everyone know that you are looking to buy property. You never know who might be aware of a property that is just about to be listed.
6) Send Direct Mail
Direct mail can be expensive, but it is still effective. The drawback with using it for finding real estate deals is that if you do a general mailing to your area, not everyone is going to be interested in selling. But you can generate good leads by using direct mail. A simple postcard informing people in your area that you buy property, with a brief breakdown of what you’re looking for could land you a fantastic deal.
7) Purchase A Tax Lien
When someone stops paying their property taxes you have an opportunity to purchase the property at what can be an excellent price. Tax lien purchases are typically done auction style either in person or online.
When purchasing a tax lien you should be aware of any potential problems the property might have in terms of maintenance or repairs. Sometimes when purchasing these types of properties you may also have to evict the current residents, so be aware of any costs associated with this such as legal fees.
8) Search The Bigger Pockets Marketplace
There are tons of deals available on The BiggerPockets Marketplace. In addition to being a database for deals, it can also be used to network with other real estate investors. BiggerPockets has paid features as well that give you access to software that can help you analyze your deals.
9) Rent a Billboard
Put up a billboard in the area where you are looking to invest that lets everyone know that you buy property. Billboards can be more expensive than other forms of advertising, but you can generate a lot of leads this way.
10) Advertise On The Radio
Even in 2022, the average adult still spends 104 minutes a day listening to the radio. Putting out a short radio ad that lets everyone in the area know that you buy properties can generate tons of leads.
11) Look For Expired Listings
An expired listing is a property that was listed and advertised for sale, but was taken off the market. You can find some really good deals by looking at expired listings and getting in contact with the owners or listing agent. Most people won’t be looking at these types of properties anymore, but the owners may still want to sell.
12) Put An Ad in the Newspaper
Not as many people read newspapers anymore, but if you think about the type of people who generally do (older people), it’s clear that this is a good option. Often older people will be looking to sell after their kids have moved out for example, and you can pick up a good deal from someone who hasn’t publicly listed their home yet.
13) Post An Ad in a Local Landlord Magazine
Often there are local groups of landlords which potentially have magazines or trade publications. These can be great places to advertise looking for real estate deals. With the right ad, you could attract the attention of a local property owner and get an excellent off market deal.
14) Buy A Deal From a Wholesaler
Wholesalers buy up deals and sell them to investors for a small markup. While you might pay a few thousand dollars to get a deal, it can be a lot less effort than doing a lot of marketing yourself to find leads. Searching online for real estate wholesalers can work as well as networking in your local area.
15) Use A Commercial Broker
If you’re looking for commercial property, a knowledgeable commercial broker can help a lot. If you work with someone who knows the area and has a lot of connections, you may be able to find properties that wouldn’t otherwise be listed.
16) Search Loopnet
With 375,000 brokers and owners marketing their listing on Loopnet, this is definitely a place to search. Loopnet is the biggest online marketplace to find commercial property.
17) Search Crexi.com
Crexi is another great place to find commercial real estate deals. With over two trillion dollars worth of property listings, there are tons of options listed here.
18) Speak With Divorce and Bankruptcy Lawyers
If you can find a divorce or bankruptcy lawyer in your area you might be in for some deals. He or she will have the inside track on who might be looking to sell in the very near future. Obviously you would have to approach the prospective seller in a proper manner, but if done appropriately this method can land you deals that no one else knows about.
19) Do Online Marketing
Online marketing can be an excellent way to generate leads for buying real estate. The key here is to connect with as many people as possible in your prospective area who may be looking to sell. Here’s the general strategy:
Create a website. Your website should give information about who you are and what experience you have in real estate. This will be the place that any of your online ads lead to. You’ll want to explain what kind of property you’re interested in buying and give your contact information so sellers can get in touch.
Buy Google Ads. Google ads are great because you can target people who are searching for specific keywords. For example, you can target people who search “sell my house for cash” with an ad that says you buy houses for cash. These ads would link back to your website which would provide all the details.
Write blog posts. A blog is another way to get traffic to your website. You can write about your experience investing and generally what kind of properties you are looking to purchase. Write blogs someone looking to sell their property would be interested in reading.
Make an Instagram. Instagram is a great platform to build your brand as a property investor. You can post whenever you acquire a new deal and promote what type of properties you are interested in. It’s also a good way to stay connected with other investors who can also help you find deals.
These are only a few of the items a good online marketing program would include, but would be a good initial starting point. By effectively advertising online you can connect with property owners who are motivated to sell.
Tips From The ONE Street Experts on Finding Deals
Sunil Chhabra, who has done nearly half a billion dollars worth of real estate transactions since 2006, recommends going door to door in neighborhoods where you just purchased a property and asking for deals. He would go to neighbors and say, “Hey, we just bought the property next door and are renovating it. Let us know if you or anyone you know would be interested in selling.” That tended to drum up a lot of good deals. Another strategy that worked well for Mr. Chhabra was sending mailers in neighborhoods he liked with actual offer prices.
Sacha Moise who has managed multi-thousand unit multi-family, hospitality, and retail portfolios says that one of the best ways to find deals is to be a part of the community. He recommends spending a few days in the area you’re looking to buy in and getting a pulse for the people and community. That way you can get an idea of who might want to sell, what properties are available and who might be retiring soon. Mr Moise uses the mantra, “Think global, but act local.” He says there is no substitute for really being in the mix, talking to people, and finding out what is happening in the community.
The Bottom Line
Finding real estate deals is a lot of work. Using all of the above methods means you will have the best possible chance of finding all of the potential deals in your area. That way you can effectively analyze a large number of deals and find the best ones for you. Overall the key is to get the message out to as many people as possible that you want to invest. The more people you can make aware of exactly what you want to buy, the more likely you will find it.
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