How to Find Off Market Properties in a Down Market

Gavin Finch
Written by Gavin Finch 

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If you’ve been paying attention to the real estate market, then you know the market has shifted. Rising interest rates have caused real estate sales to drop significantly over the past few months. While for sale signs dominated neighborhoods across the country a few months ago, now finding a home that’s listed for sale has become a challenge. Even cash buyers are slowing down as they wait for prices to correct. 

With these changes dominating the narrative of many influencers and media outlets, it may feel like the dream of becoming a real estate investor or wholesaler is slowly fading. But there are still plenty of investment opportunities available, they just aren’t listed with an agent. Here’s how to find off market properties, even in a down economy.

What are off market properties?

Off market properties are houses that aren’t listed with a real estate agent. When a realtor works with a homeowner to sell a house, the property is listed on the multiple listings service (MLS), which is a collection of private databases that help realtors work with their clients to buy and sell homes. In short, when a property is listed on the MLS, it’s like raising a large flag that tells agents that it’s for sale. 

However, some people want to sell but don’t list with an agent for a variety of reasons. They may not have the funds to fix damage to the house or they may be stuck in a situation that’s limiting them to a short time frame, like pre-foreclosure. They may also be involved in a probate battle or have an expired listing, which is a house that was listed on the MLS but didn’t sell. These are all considered off market properties.

How to find off market properties

As you can tell, there are a lot of factors that can motivate an owner to sell off market. However, most of these houses have one thing in common: they don’t have a sign in the yard that says “off market property for sale.” 

Because these houses usually don’t have any outward indicators that the owner is willing to sell, finding them requires specialized tools and strategies. The two most effective methods are real estate lead generation software and driving for dollars.

Real estate lead generation software

Real estate investing software gives investors easy access to detailed property information by aggregating data from public records and other data repositories. With this data, it’s easy to search for property owners who are experiencing some kind of financial distress, such as:

  • Pre-foreclosure
  • Recent divorce
  • Bankruptcy
  • Probate
  • Tax liens

This software doesn’t limit you to financially distressed properties. You can leverage the data to find practically any kind of off market property you want. For example, BatchLeads has over 300 data points on more than 150 million US properties. You can leverage these data points to put together hyper-specific searches like the following:

  • Two story homes on one-acre lots with swimming pools
  • Millionaire property owners 65 and older who have three or more properties in their portfolio
  • Three bedroom, two bathroom pre-foreclosures with more than 50 percent equity

Because you can use real estate lead generation software to build lead lists across a variety of data points, it’s a great resource whether you’re an investor or a real estate agent. 

Driving for dollars

While lead generation platforms are invaluable when it comes to finding investment opportunities, they won’t usually help you find distressed properties. To find these houses, you’ll need to drive for dollars

Driving for dollars is the practice of strategically exploring neighborhoods and looking for properties with signs of damage and neglect. These signs include:

  • Damaged roofs
  • Overgrown yards
  • Broken down vehicles
  • Broken windows
  • Fallen in porches

Because property damage is only recorded in public records when it’s bad enough to condemn a house, driving for dollars is one of the only ways to find distressed properties. However, there’s a lot of necessary information that you can’t get from simply looking at a house. 

That’s where lead generation software comes back in. A limited number of platforms have built-in driving for dollars tools that track your routes and give you on-demand access to property information with a single tap on your phone.

With this information, you can drive for dollars, identify distressed properties, and quickly learn everything you need to know about them. Then you can reach out to the owner and make an offer on the property while you’re sitting in front of it.

Virtual driving for dollars

With the right real estate investing app, you don’t even have to be on-site to find distressed properties anymore; you can drive for dollars virtually. 

Virtual driving for dollars is the process of using street view to canvass neighborhoods you can’t visit in person. It works just like the traditional approach, except it lets you explore neighborhoods no matter where you are. As a result, it’s becoming one of the top ways investors are breaking into new markets. 

Conclusion

With home sales declining, off market real estate deals are becoming increasingly important. Whether you’re trying to sell off market properties to potential buyers, add property investments to your portfolio, or find new listings, your best opportunities probably won’t be on the market right now.

Thankfully, finding off market properties has become easier than ever. Real estate lead generation software has made finding the kinds of houses you’re looking for as simple as clicking a button. If you choose a platform that has built-in driving for dollars tools as well, you’ll have everything you need in one place. 


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