A Crash Course on Finding Off-Market Properties

Whether you’re looking to find a good deal on some property or seeking your next real estate investment, you might be interested in pursuing off-market properties. These present ample opportunities to the right buyer. Learn tips for finding off-market properties and reasons why you might want to.

What Is an Off-Market Property?

Most home sellers opt for using a local real estate agent who lists and advertises their property on the local multiple listing service (MLS). However, owners sometimes choose to market their property off-market. With a so-called “pocket listing,” neither agent nor owner actively market the property online or on the MLS.

Owners decide to keep the sale private for a number of reasons:

  • The seller might want to avoid the usual steps of tours and open houses.
  • The seller or seller’s real estate agent might have not got around to listing on MLS yet.
  • Someone who is in the early consideration phase of selling or buying a property might be waiting for the right deal to come along.

Additionally, an off-market property could be in the pre-foreclosure stage, not yet publicly advertised. Or, the owner or investor might just be considering selling the property, without yet making any efforts to do so.

Why Would I Want an Off-Market Property?

Some investors actively seek out hot deals in off-market properties. Finding off-market properties typically means you have less competition and a quicker sale. Agents who find an off-market property gets a head start on other real estate agents and the chance to gain an exclusive listing.

Tips for Finding Off-Market Properties

You can find off-market properties almost anywhere. But following a few proven methods for finding off-market properties will increase your odds.

1. Network With Attorneys

Networking with attorneys can become a good source of referrals as well as a source of inside information into properties that might become available in the near future. For example, estate attorneys are aware of properties that have issues, new heirs, or creditors requiring quick payment. Divorce attorneys have clients who need to sell common property.

2. Review Public Records

Public records can tip you off to short sale and foreclosure opportunities and properties that might soon come up at auction. Besides periodically checking with the county recorder’s office for new filings, you should regularly review the local newspaper. If you’re interested in residential properties, bookmark the HUD Home Store for alerts for off-market properties.

3. Befriend Local Builders

Local builders and contractors can be great resources for learning about potential off-market properties. They know about properties where the owner ran out of money and could not finish the job. They also know if an owner is fixing up a property as preparation for being sold. If the builder or contractor shares this information with you, then you can contact the owner before the property is listed.

4. Do Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing remains an effective method for generating prospect leads as well as finding off-market properties. An owner might receive a real estate postcard from you and suddenly consider selling. Or, if the owner decides later to sell, then you are more likely to be at the forefront of real estate agents that come to mind.

5. Drive Around

You or someone else can drive around an area and look for possible deals. For example, a distressed property could be a sign of an owner behind on maintenance because they cannot afford the property upkeep. Or a commercial building might have several vacancies, indicating possible financial struggles. If you reach out with an offer to buy, that owner might readily agree to sell.

6. Use ProspectNow

ProspectNow maintains a database of over 23 million properties that are predicted to sell along with databases of more than 140 million residential and commercial real estate properties, including detailed information about the property and ownership. Use the search and filter options to lock in on off-market properties in some cases even before the seller knows they’re ready to sell. Use the integrated suite of direct mail and digital marketing tools to contact property owners. To see how it works, start your free trial to see potential off-market properties in your area.