As 2016 approaches, the real estate industry shows no signs of slowing down. Every day, hundreds of new investors enter the business all across the country; each with their own vision and methods of finding deals. As popularity within the industry grows, it is increasingly important to come up with different ways of finding deals. In the past, it was probably enough to wait for your real estate agent to contact you when a new deal hit the MLS. While the MLS is still a good method in many markets, it is also ripe with competition. The best deals come from places that few, if any, people are looking. Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, you can always use more deals. Here are four ways to find deals outside of the MLS:
1. Direct Mail: Nothing has the potential to generate leads quicker than direct mail. That being said, if you don’t do it right you will become frustrated and end up losing money. Simply opening up the phone book and mailing random homeowners will not do the trick. You need to find a specialized group of homeowners to focus on. Most people don’t understand how much time, effort and capital is required. You don’t need a huge budget to mail, but you should be committed to any plans you set for yourself. It is always far better to buy a smaller list and mail it more frequently than to buy a huge list and send out mailings once or twice. You also need to be ready to act when your phone rings. Without a plan for handling call volume, you will end up wasting good leads.
2. Driving for Dollars: If you don’t have a budget for mailing, there are still ways to find deals. The most inexpensive way to find deals is also one of the easiest. All you need is a car, a notebook and a little effort. Every time you are in the car represents an opportunity to find deals. You have probably driven by a house that you thought needed work or saw a listing that has been on the market for months; these are both indicators that the homeowner may be having trouble selling. Properties with overgrown shrubs, debris in the front yard and a generally messy appearance are signs that they homeowner may have run out of money to make improvements, and could be looking to sell. As you are in your car (not while you are driving) take note of the address. If you are brave enough, knock on the door and strike up a conversation. Tell them you are an investor looking to buy homes in the area and to contact you if they know anyone who may be interested in selling. If you are lucky, they will begin dialogue on the spot. In most cases, you will need to follow up with them a few times. Even if you don’t knock on the door, you can send them a letter or once you find out their name send them a message online. You may get a few angry responses along the way, but all it takes is one disgruntled homeowner to turn into a deal.
3. Craigslist: The internet is full of ways to find deals if you are creative enough. Craigslist had a solid run as one of the leading resources for landlord and real estate investors alike. While the popularity has waned in recent years, it is still a very reliable source. Search properties for rent and reach out to the landlords. In much the same way that you did with door knocking, the more people you reach, the greater the chances you will find someone who is interested. There are many more disgruntled landlords than you may realize. You never know who has wanted to unload their property for some time, and is just looking for the right deal. The second method is to look at properties for sale. The point is to reach out to the seller, regardless of the property. They could have inventory they want to get rid of that may be a good fit for you.
4. Town Hall: There is plenty of information available at any given town hall. Most of it is available online, but there are times when you may have to get in the car and take a ride. Between eviction notices, probate listings, tax liens and tax records, you could spend hours sifting through information. Once you gather the information, send a letter, find a phone number or knock on the door to reach out. You know that you are getting the info from a reliable source, so it is just a matter of getting their attention and closing the deal.
These are just four of the ways you can generate leads without the MLS. If you use your imagination and think outside the box, you can find many more.