30 Ways to Find Amazing Real Estate Investment Deals
You probably read previous articles, blogs, and other forms of content that has enticed you to either start investing in real estate or revamp your current plan to find more deals. Either way the hardest part of real estate investing will always be about finding deals. So where do we find them
Taking the rapid-fire approach, here are 30 ways to find great deals. Here’s the disclaimer: Every single method has been proven to work and it is up to you, the investor, to make it work for you, by any means necessary. What works for others may not work for you so be sure to pick a method, implement it, test it, evaluate it, and then make whatever changes needed to improve it’s efficiency. In that order!
Ready? Ok. Here we go!
The #1 source of all property listings. 80% of homes listed for sale are placed on the MLS (multiple listing service). Depending on what county you live in will determine which MLS you would use. The largest is Garden State MLS (GSMLS), which covers majority of north New Jersey including Essex, Union, Passaic, Middlesex, and Morris County to name a few. Just go to gsmls.com and search away! Zillow and Realtor.com are also forms of a MLS so it doesn’t matter which you use, just use it consistently and keep a close eye to spot potential deals. Your agent can help you analyze deals as well. Search for keywords like: Reo, as is, estate, TLC, fixer upper, handyman special, short sale.
- Driving for Dollars
The budget friendly way to search for deals. Jump in your car and drive around the neighborhood you would like to invest in and identify the homes that either look vacant or are in disrepair. Is the grass overgrown? Are there never any lights on? Is the mailbox full? When you locate these properties, write them down for your record and either send them a letter (assuming it doesn’t pile up with the other mail), or knock on the door to see if they’re home. Check your county’s tax records to see if the owner still lives there or lives somewhere else and has a different mailing address. With the internet being the information beast that it is, don’t be surprised that you can even find the owner’s phone number. Either way, find a way to contact them!
- Bandit Signs
Have you ever seen those signs that say “I buy homes cash” or “Facing Foreclosure?”, something like that? They’re usually posted on telephone poles or street signs near intersections and streets that have a lot of traffic. The more eyes that see the sign the better. I heard this strategy works really, really well. I, personally, haven’t tried this method yet but I may have to face the fact that it simply works. This will definitely get your phone ringing with seller leads.
- Networking with other investors
Eventually as you get your investing business off the ground, you might find yourself taking on too many projects at once. You may look to provide deals for other investors that you have a relationship with. The same scenario can be reciprocated and an investor that you know may have run out of funding and needs to outsource a deal. Be sure to network, meet and help other investors. It will come back to you for sure.
- Networking with other Real Estate Professionals
Agents, mortgage officers, attorneys, title representatives, and contractors are all individuals who come in contact with home owners and are handling real estate transactions (just to name a few). They may know someone who is looking to sell and sell quickly. Meet those who are in the presence of sellers as part of their daily job.
- Networking with Financial Service professionals
Reverse engineer a distressed seller’s situation. Before things get really bad, you can assume other professionals were sought out to prevent the inevitable. Sellers probably consulted with their accountant, financial advisor, banker, or related service field at some point to gain information on how they could possibly alleviate their situation before they found themselves needing to sell. Make sure to stay on the top of these professionals’ mind.
- Networking with Mail carriers to keep you informed on vacant homes
Do you know someone that works for the post office? They’re out in the field daily going from home to home so chances are they know exactly which homes have been vacant or hasn’t picked up last week’s mail yet. Provide them with an incentive to keep you in the loop. They can be an excellent resource.
- Direct Mail
I’ll dedicate an entire section to this method as this is my personal favorite. This is also the more costly approach as you will need to spend the money needed to reach a certain amount of people with your direct mail campaign. However, this will DEFINITELY get your phone ringing with those who are interested in selling their home. It’s up to you to assess their situation and create a win-win situation for both you and the seller. Don’t do the bare minimum like most people! They send out one batch of mailers and expect to quit their job. It does not happen like this, but also understand that consistency and your specific market will be the determining factor of your success. Here are some target markets you can explore using direct mail:
- Direct Mail to Absentee Owners
These are owners who no longer occupy the property as their primary residence. They may now live in a different county or even another state. Whether they have a mortgage on the property or not, they will ALWAYS have to pay property taxes on the home. If there is a mortgage, that’s just more money the owner has to come out of pocket just to not to get foreclosed on. It can become financially draining and they may look to sell to ease the pain.
- Direct Mail Landlords – Tenant/landlord cases
Maybe you’re looking for a multifamily to invest in for passive income. Tenant/Landlord court cases are public records so you can find out which properties have had evictions recently and target those landlords. The last eviction just might be the one that causes the landlord to throw their hands in the air in defeat and look to sell the property at a discount just to keep themselves from pulling their hair out. Where this is chaos, there is always opportunity. You can check with your county court house to see which properties have upcoming/pending cases.
- Direct Mail to FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner)
These are owners who have elected to sell their homes themselves without using an agent. The biggest reason why individuals will choose to sell their home themselves is to save money on broker fees. Look for distressed properties that are FSBO’s, if they can’t afford to pay for a broker to help with the sale of their home, that could be a sign that the owner may be struggling financially. There are various websites that you can use to search for FSBO’s. Even Zillow has a filter that will allow you to target strictly these types of sellers. Depending on the city you’re looking will be indicative of how many potential leads there are.
- Direct mail to those facing foreclosure
“Lis Pendens” is the served notice that a property receives when a lawsuit has been filed against the owner. This occurs right when the homeowner stops paying their mortgage or tax payments. This starts the foreclosure process which could last 6 months or 5 years, It’s all dependent on the mortgage holder and city court system. Lis Pendens, latin for “suit pending” can also be found right at your city’s public records. See which homes have been served a foreclosure notice and target those properties to see if anybody is willing to sell. While the homeowner has the opportunity to bring their payment back up to date, chances are, they usually don’t or they wouldn’t have found themselves in the position to begin with.
- Direct Mail to individuals who have inherited homes
Imagine you’re relaxing in your backyard on a nice summer afternoon with a cold beer when all of a sudden, you receive a phone call that you somehow, someway have inherited your cousin Vinny’s home due to his unfortunate passing. On top of that, you happen to remember that cousin Vinny had a beautiful home overshadowed by high property taxes. Welp, now you’re responsible for those taxes!
(you may want to take another sip of that beer – mayyybe one more to be sure).
Do you think you would be looking to sell asap? You may have enough funds to keep the property in your possession, but then again, you may already find yourself trying to juggle your own monthly expenses and a big added expense can make things difficult. That’s exactly how other sellers in this position feel as well. Target them !
- Direct Mail to Section 8 Landlords
There’s a stigma regarding Section 8 tenants – they leave your rental a complete wreck. Landlords who have had a terrible experience renting to Section 8 tenants may be willing to sell more than ever to avoid another nightmare. It gets expensive fixing up a rental each and every time a renter leaves the apartment a mess. Not to mention that it is now hindering the income potential the property would normally have. You can obtain a list of all Section 8 apartments and homes in your desired area online.
- Direct Mail to Estates
As natural a death is, it’s always an unfortunate scenario. When someone does pass away, the family has to decide what to do with the home, after all, it will inevitably be inherited by someone else. In the tax records, the owner’s name changes from “Jane Doe” to “Estate of Jane Doe” or some similar variation of that. You can look at your county’s tax records to see who owns a property that is an estate. You can also have your agent set you up on a search that includes Estate sales.
- Mailing to homes that have liens on the property
Another list you can obtain from your county. Any time a property has a lien (claimed interest), it must get paid. A mortgage is the most popular and understandable lien. Other liens can include:
Construction liens – was repairs or renovations done to the home and not paid for ?
IRS Tax Liens – do they owe Uncle Sam ?
Judgements – Did they have a court case and didn’t pay ?
Child support – Are the behind ? Do they even pay ?
These are just some of the various liens that can be placed on the property at any point. Your city will have an open record of properties who have these liens against the property. You can also find this information by requesting a title search.
- Direct Mailing to those who have code violations
Each city has their own ordinances on how homeowners should upkeep their property. Did any property receive code violations? Code violations can range from high, uncut grass to sidewalk deformities. If these violations are outstanding for some time, that could be a sign that the seller either no longer lives there, or no longer cares which could be a signal of distress.
- Direct mailing those who are behind on taxes
Tax Delinquents! Your city’s tax assessor will have a running tab of every parcel of land in the city. Their system will also let you know who is current and who is behind on their taxes. Taxes are paid quarterly so don’t waste your time with individuals who are just behind for the quarter, chances are they will pay. Instead, look for those who haven’t paid for a minimum of 3-4 quarters. They might be behind on their finances and may be in the position to sell if they can’t handle their tax payments.
- Direct mailing to those who have had their car repossessed.
If you can find this list, chances are their home isn’t far behind.
- Connecting with Wholesalers
Wholesalers are individuals whose sole job is to find deals for investors. Connecting with a wholesaler can mean kicking your feet up and having them do the dirty work for you; bringing deals straight to your inbox. In a perfect world, these wholesalers would be the gift to the real estate gods, however, be careful on which wholesalers you choose to deal with. Most of them do not know how to properly analyze a deal and sometimes their numbers can be completely off. Be sure to check their reputation and deal analysis before pulling the trigger.
- Placing door hangers on distressed properties
This can be a tool in conjunction with driving for dollars. Simply leave a door hanger on the property stating your interest in buying along with your contact information. Play the numbers. The more you set, the more you have a chance of landing a deal. It’s inevitable.
- Targeting expired/withdrawn listings
Your agent will be able to look up all listings that were once for sale and were either withdrawn from the market or had their listing contract expired for whatever reason. These sellers have already mentioned that they were willing to sell. Target them! The more distressed the home, the better.
- Cold Calling
The stone age way to find deals. Literally picking up the phone, going through the online phone book and cold calling to see if there are any sellers that are out there who need your service. This can be extremely time consuming, however, it also is completely free so the ROI makes this method worth the effort. Again, this is a numbers game so the more you dial, the more you make. Simple. This is a good method for those who have prior sales experience or cold calling experience.
- Posting on Craigslist
There are still 60 million individuals that use Craigslist with over 50 billion average page views per month. Advertising that you buy homes is a free way to get your name out there. You might even be able to property for sale that offers a great deal for you.
- Social media
It’s 2017 right?! Almost everyone has at least 1 social media account. Tell the world exactly what you’re looking for and it will find a way to you. Social media marketing will get the right eyes looking at your business and learning what you do. Find a way to market to sellers.
- Facebook Advertising
Facebook advertising has become HUGE for businesses to promote their product. Consult with a social media expert to find out how you can start advertising on the world’s biggest social media platform. For just $5 you could potentially reach 5,000 Facebook users. Imagine If you advertised to distressed sellers?
- Nursing / Retirement homes
Do you know anyone that works in a nursing home or retirement community ? Chances are those that are applying for residency are in need of selling a home quickly. What’s even better is usually these individuals would have built up enough equity in the home which makes easier to offer a price to purchase that’s more in your favor.
- Door knocking
The physical form of cold calling. Going door to door in search of motivated sellers. From an efficiency standpoint, please don’t start on the block that has 25 newly renovated homes looking for a distressed seller. Look in the areas where there are multiple homes that look distressed to put the odds in your favor.
A perfect place to find discounted properties is at your city’s property auction. Depending on the city, these auctions can occur anywhere between once a week to once a year. When dealing with auctions, understand that you usually are not able to go inside the property prior to purchasing so you’re buying “sight unseen” which can make your rehab analysis a little cloudy. Auctions usually require a cash deposit of 5-10% down as soon as you become the winning bidder and the remaining balance, in cash, 10-30 days after so be sure to have your money ready. This method is very cash heavy upfront, but that’s the “price” you pay when getting properties at an extreme discount.
Similar to social media and Facebook advertising, create a website that you can use to market to potential sellers. Find out how to promote your website and watch the leads start pouring in. At that point, it will be up to you to convert them into an actual purchase. This can be a great method for a tech savvy individual or a team who has a marketing brain on the squad.
So there you have it!
All these methods have been tried and true for thousands of investors. The difference is they stuck with it and found out how to make their specific method work better for them and their goals. That’s why it is IMPERATIVE that you select one or two methods at a time to implement and test. You’ll find out how to make whichever method you choose better and over time you will learn what works for you or not – but you have to TRY!
There a deals out there and it’s up to you to go get them. There are sellers who have found themselves in a position and need to get out as quickly as possible. You are here to be the best candidate to help them and create a win-win situation for both parties. You have what it takes, the methods are there, and now it’s time to take a MASSIVE amount of action in order to have your real estate investment goals to come true. Go get them!