In a hot seller’s market, where sellers benefit more than buyers, finding the perfect home for a client can seem impossible. No sooner does a property go on the market that it’s marked as “sold.” A creative plan to find off-market property leads are in order.
That’s where off-market property leads come into play. Also known as “pocket listings,” these properties do not appear on multiple listing services (MLS) because they aren’t listed by real estate professionals. These include properties for sale by owner or pre-estate sale properties, and they depend on word-of-mouth or insider knowledge to buy and sell.
Knowing how to find off-market property leads will give your client more options in a hot market. Here are some tips to help you find off-market property leads for your clients.
Check Public Records
Follow your local newspapers and bookmark your local and state government websites for advanced information on foreclosures and short sales, which are a matter of public record. Foreclosure practices vary from state to state, but in some cases, there will be a public record about 30 days before a home is foreclosed on and available for sale.
HUD Home Store is another great public resource that can provide information about new and upcoming home sales. This includes listings of single-family and multi-family homes for sale by the government.
By keeping tabs on upcoming property sales, you can beat the rush and maybe even arrange a tour or offer before it goes up for sale.
In addition, public records can reveal expired listings — a great way to get off-market property leads. With these, you can contact the seller directly. In return, that could give you and your client more flexibility during negotiations.
Homes that have been foreclosed on or seized for defaulting on property taxes end up at auction. There are various auction websites available for tracking, including Auction.com. Local governments will also provide information about in-person auctions.
Buying homes at auction comes with risks. One downside of homes sold at auction is the lack of information available on the home. Without the full list of information regularly available on MLS, you will need to do more research. This can include:
- Viewing comparable homes in the neighborhood and community
- Reviewing public records of past sales or major home repairs
- Checking expired listings for the home on a MLS
In most cases, homes sold at auction are not available for viewing before they are sold. By collecting this advanced information, you can have a good idea about a home’s condition.
Often, people who buy and flip houses purchase auctioned homes. Try building relationships with local flippers, who will want to sell quickly to take advantage of a 1031 exchange. That way, if a house of interest comes up at auction, and they buy it, you will already have advanced information about a future home sale before it’s listed. Your client will likely end up paying more for the house than if it was purchased at auction, but they will have more information and negotiation power.
Get to Know Estate Attorneys
Estate attorneys are licensed law professionals who work with individuals and families to navigate how property is dispersed upon a person’s death.
In some cases, a home will need to be sold quickly to pay bills and creditors. By networking with estate attorneys, you can receive advanced knowledge about homes that are not yet on the market.
You can connect with estate attorneys by joining business and community organizations such as Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, or groups sponsored by your local business associations.
Befriend Local Builders
Like other agents and attorneys, builders are a great resource for keeping a pulse on the local real estate market.
In some cases, a home build is abandoned part-way due to financing issues or a change in plans. Home builders can tip off you and your client about abandoned projects. If you have a client who is ready and eager to buy, they could benefit by coming in to complete the project.
Home builders are also good at networking. They often hear about off-market properties and can give a heads up about upcoming opportunities.
Hit the Road
Driving for dollars is another way to find leads on off-market property leads. Get behind the wheel of your car or go for a walk, and travel through neighborhoods and areas that appeal to your clients. You can document information while you travel.
While you are on the go, look for signs that say “for sale by owner.” Also, be on the watch for vacant or neglected homes. Jot down the address, and check your local public records for more information. You can reach out to the homeowner to find out if they are interested in selling. That’s a way to really beat the competition.
Create a Paper Trail
When in doubt, direct marketing campaigns can be a way to create leads for off-market property leads. Do research on your target market before sending out postcards or placing an ad in a local newspaper or on Facebook. Figure out the best way to reach your audience.
Also, remember to be patient. It can take time to get results from a direct marketing campaign.
Buying homes off-market requires some extra legwork, but the results can pay off when your client finds their dream home thanks to your help.
Luke Babich is the Co-Founder and COO at Clever Real Estate, the nation’s leading real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers, and investors.