How To Find Real Estate Deals

You don't need access to the multiple listing service to find great property investment deals. In fact, you can use creative ways to find real estate deals before they hit the market.

There are plenty of ways to find real estate deals that are off the market. Here are some top ways to beat the competition in investment real estate.  

It is all about who you know in real estate

If you want to know how to find real estate before it hits the market, you can meet people who are in the know. Meet other property investors. You have a shared interest, and even if you believe you are competitors, there are plenty of deals for everyone. Fellow investors can give you insight into other deals, property management and other shared interests. You might even get a piece of a bigger deal pursued by a group of investors.

You should also get to know mortgage brokers, who often learn about property before it hits the market. They will hear from a seller asking if they qualify to buy a new property once they find a buyer for theirs. In addition, lawyers who handle real estate transactions know when distressed properties are facing foreclosure before they go to market. And contractors like carpenters, plumbers and others who work on properties before they go to market may hear about a seller's intentions.

Monitor probate court records

You can regularly check probate court records in areas where you want to buy to find properties set to be sold by a court-appointed representative. These sales are often identified in court records. Properties sold this way are usually sold at a cheaper price than on the open market. 

Review the last six months or so of open probate matters to find property sales ordered as part of a will or to pay debts. You can contact the lawyer or executor handling the real estate sale to learn more about the transaction. They may be willing to sell to you directly.

Target motivated sellers with direct mail

Direct mail can help you find real estate deals. If you want the best results, make sure you target a specific group of potential sellers. For example, you can limit your direct mail to property owners who are 65 years old and older, who may consider retiring to warmer climates and take you up on your offer to buy.

The most effective direct mail is a hand-written letter, or a printed letter with at least some hand-written note. Make sure it does not look like a mass solicitation, even if it is.

Keep an eye on properties with recent eviction notices 

One group of potential sellers are investment property owners who are tired of dealing with evictions. Look for eviction records to identify multi-family housing properties with a number of tenant problems. These property owners may be motivated to sell. 

Of course, you will have to resolve the tenant problem if you acquire the property. But a review of eviction notices to find trends for specific properties is a good place to start if you're looking for ways to find real estate deals.

Check social media sites regularly for property sales by owner

Some property sellers who don't want to deal with real estate agents use social media sites to market their properties. You may find good deals on Craigslist, NextDoor, Facebook and other sites. Keep a close eye on these sites for potential investment opportunities and motivated sellers looking for buyers.

You can save money here by negotiating directly with property owners and can avoid paying commissions and other transaction fees.

Take a drive and look for distressed properties

You can find some motivated sellers by searching for properties that are not being care for. Drive through areas where you would like to buy and search for the signs of neglected properties - tall grass, overgrown bushes, broken shutters and boarded-up windows.

Find out who owns these properties through local real estate records. Chances are they might accept an offer to unload the real estate. 

Attend real estate auctions

Although real estate auctions will likely attract numerous buyers who will compete with you, it is worth going. You may find a good deal to buy. But you might also learn something about future properties that may go up for sale. You can also meet others who keep an eye on auction properties who may offer you tips in the future.