how to find off market real estate properties

How To Find Off Market Real Estate Properties

Off market properties are usually defined as any property that is not listed by a realtor on the MLS. While some new investors may think using an agent is the only way to buy real estate, there are actually many ways. Finding off market properties may not be as difficult as a lot of people think it is. With that said, below are the top 15 methods to use if you want to find off market real estate properties.

1. Direct Mail

One of the best ways to find off market properties is via direct mailing or postcards. What you want to do is send out mailings such as postcards to people whose homes you’re interested in. The way this works is the investor/buyer sends out many postcards to homeowners, and those postcards express interest in buying the homeowners’ homes.

Research areas that you want to buy a home in. Then find a company that specializes in direct mailing campaigns, and tell them what you want your mailings to say. Next, you have those mailings sent out to property owners.

Yellow Letters

You may have never heard of yellow letters. A yellow letter is just like it sounds. A letter written on yellow paper. There are 2 reasons this is effective and the first is because the yellow paper you use is uncommon and when a potential homeowner sees it they are intrigued by what it may say. The second reason is because you are going to hand write these letters. How often do you get a handwritten letter in the mail from anyone? Not often! That is why this will stand out and most of the time it will be enough for the homeowner to read your letter.

I’m sure you are imagining yourself writing out thousands of letters by hand and how exhausting that will be. Well, if you want to save money then yes you can do that. There are companies that will print these out and they will look like like you wrote them with a pen yourself. One of these companies is but there are several others too.

Remember, hundreds or thousands of postcards or letters typically need to be sent out before the responses start to come in. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t start seeing results right off the bat. Simply find the areas that interest you the most and then put together a direct mailing campaign. Before you know it, you’ll receive responses and might have a few homeowners that are serious about selling their home.

2. Ask All Your Friends

Another good way to find off market properties is by asking all of your friends, more specially asking them via Facebook. Let’s face it, everyone is on Facebook and even if you only have a handful of friends on Facebook, you can still get a good response because of the nature of the site.

The way to be successful at finding off market properties via Facebook is to keep your post short, but include your offer range. For example, you can make a post to let people know you’re wanting to buy a house and tell them what the price range is you are looking for. Then you can encourage your Facebook friends to share the post, and then you just sit back and wait for replies.

3. Send Out An Email To Your List

Do you have an email list? Most people have some amount of business contacts. If so, then why not leverage it to find off market properties? Similar to Facebook posts, you want to focus on creating an email that contains crucial info such as how much you’re willing to spend, as well as encourage your list to share the email with their friends.

If you don’t currently have a list, then focus on building one. Do this by running social media ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. The bigger your list is, the more of the chance you’ll have of finding great off market properties.

4. Foreclosure Websites

Foreclosure properties have always been highly sought after, and using foreclosure websites are great for finding off market properties. Foreclosure properties typically have to be bid on, and a lot of people struggle to locate foreclosed homes. Don’t worry though because there are a couple of sites that are completely legit and rank among the top sites for foreclosed properties.

The first site is the Hud Homestore website. Others you can check are and Just do a search for foreclosure websites to see what kind of properties are currently on the market.

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5. Driving For Dollars

Driving for dollars is actually a technique that people use to find off market properties. It’s a straightforward method because all you do is drive around until you find properties that look like they are in bad shape or in distressed.

When you come across those properties, you make contact with the owners and make them an offer. You can use county databases to find owners of properties and you can also try using a skip tracing services to get the owners info.

Here’s a tip, research markets before you start to drive through different areas. Take time to learn about the areas you are interested in. The more research you do, the better off you’ll be.


As the name implies, this website is where owners of properties turn to when they want to sell their property. A lot of buyers still don’t use the site to find off market properties, but they should. The site is one of the largest websites of its kind, therefore you should be using it.

All you have to do join the site and browse the listings. When you find properties you like, you can message the owners to make them an offer. is packed with great features, which makes finding affordable properties easy to do.

7. Wholesalers In Your Market

A unique way to located off market properties is to find wholesalers in your market. It doesn’t matter what market you’re interested in, the chances are you’ll find wholesalers that operate within it. Wholesalers do set the selling prices of the homes they’re selling at a higher price than what the sellers (which they contract with) are asking for. This is because they pocket the difference, as this is how they make money.

Craigslist is a good way to find the local wholesalers in your market. This is how a lot of them market their properties for sale. If you see distressed homes on their for sale, most likely they are from a wholesaler, the only way to know is to call and ask questions. When you tell them you are an investor, they will be more than happy to put you on their cash buyers list.

Wholesalers typically already have a list of sellers. This is why they’re a great source to turn to when you want to find off market homes. As a general rule of thumb, you should contact at least 2-3 wholesalers.

8. Delinquent Tax Auctions

When homeowners fall far behind in their taxes, eventually the state or the federal government will take possession of their homes. In order to recoup their money, the properties will be put up for auction. These auctions are known as delinquent tax auctions.

A quick internet search can reveal the nearest delinquent tax auctions. Most counties only have 1 per year. When you find ones that interest you, then you can join the auction. If your bid is high enough, then you’ll become the owner of a property. Here’s a tip, you should attend as many as possible.

9. Courthouse Auctions

Courthouse auctions are exactly that, auctions that take place right at the courthouse. When a home becomes foreclosed on, then sometimes it will be put up for auction at a courthouse. Other reasons can come into play when a house ends up being put up for auction at a courthouse.

Finding off market properties via courthouse auctions is easy. Find at least a few courthouse auctions and reserve a place if required. Then you show up on the date of the auction and place bids on the properties that catch your eye. Courthouse auctions are great because you can find gems being sold at bargain prices.

Don’t limit yourself by going to just one or two courthouses in the immediate area. Take a look at courthouse auctions in other towns, cities and even states. In our area, they have them several days per week. You never know what you’ll find at a courthouse auction, which is why it’s a good idea to expand your search for auctions beyond your area.

10. Landlords

You might be surprised at how many landlords are out there that are sick of being landlords. Landlords often want to get rid of their properties, but they think it would be too difficult to do so. In fact, a lot of landlords would probably be more than willing to sell their properties if they were approached with an attractive offer.

This method takes a bit of work. It involves finding landlords of properties, and then contacting them with an offer. Thankfully, there are several ways to find landlords.

11. Craigslist

Craigslist is a classified website where you can find everything and anything on there, including properties for sale. When you go to the site, you can head over to the real estate section, which is where you’ll find properties for sale.

Before contacting the person who posted the Craigslist ad, you want to view the photos of the property. Do a bit of research on the property by performing a Google search. It shouldn’t take too long to determine whether or not the seller is legit.

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12. Bandit Signs

A bandit sign is what investors use to attract potential sellers. If you want to find off market properties, then bandit signs could very well be the best method. A good example of a bandit sign is “we buy homes fast”. You can create a similar bandit sign, but feel free to be creative with it.

Bandit signs are easy to make and they are affordable. The hard part is figuring out where to place them. Generally speaking, they should be placed somewhere that receives a lot of traffic, such as intersections of busy roadways. Just make sure you have permission to place them in such areas.

Many towns have codes against these types of signs and will take them down and dispose of them. If this happens in your area, you may have to be creative by putting them out on friday late afternoons and take them down sunday night while the code enforcement officers are not working. That is just one tip, but you can also just keep replacing them if they come up missing.

13. Mass Text Contacts On Your Phone

Send out a mass text message to everyone on your phone. Tell them you’re looking to buy a property and if they could spread the word, then that’d be great. There’s always a chance that one of your contacts will be interested in selling their home.

Also, don’t forget to encourage them to ask their neighbors (asides from spreading the word elsewhere) if they’d consider selling their properties. Getting the word out is one of the best ways as your friends and family are usually willing to help and most likely will know someone that is selling.

If you don’t have many contacts, then don’t worry. Ask people you know to send out a mass text. This is a great way to spread the word to as many people as possible.

14. Real Estate Meetup Groups

Real estate meetup groups is when real estate professionals and those in relevant industries get together to discuss all things real estate, and this includes what properties are currently for sale. These groups can be a goldmine when it comes to finding off market properties. There are probably many real estate meetup groups in your area.

Try to choose meetings that are established or ones that you know will have a good turnout. The more people who attend a meetup, the better the odds of finding properties for sale will be. Join at least 2-3 meetup groups if you want to find great off market properties. You can look on and usually find several groups in each city.

15. Contact Probate Lawyers

Another good way to find properties is to contact probate lawyers because they typically know of estates where homes may be involved. If homes are involved, then there’s a chance you can step in and make an offer. Here’s a tip, find 4-5 probate lawyers and contact them via email or phone. You will want to sound/look professional and tell them you are an investor that is looking for off market properties all the time. You may also want to offer them a bonus of $500 or $1000 if they refer a client to you that is selling a house and you end up purchasing it.

Those are the top 15 ways to find off market properties. By following the above tips and advice, you’ll eventually come across off market properties that appeal to you and that fall within your budget. Good Luck!

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