Off Market Real Estate: Understanding the Basics

Are you struggling to find good deals in the current real estate market? While it may seem like supply is low and demand is high, there may be hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Many properties are sold each month without ever being listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), otherwise known as pocket listings. These off-market properties can be a great source of leads for those who know how to find them.

In this article, we will provide you with tips on how to locate off-market properties. By implementing these strategies, you can increase your chances of finding great deals and expanding your real estate portfolio. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets of finding off-market properties.

What Is Off-Market Real Estate?

Off-market real estate refers to properties that are available for purchase but are not publicly advertised on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or similar portals. Instead, the sale of these properties is made known through word of mouth or the broker’s network. Off-market real estate can be an attractive option for buyers who want to avoid competition and bidding wars. However, finding off-market properties can be challenging, and buyers may need to work with a well-connected real estate agent or broker to gain access to these exclusive listings.

8 Ways To Find Off Market Properties For Sale

If you’re an investor looking for off-market real estate deals, there are several ways to identify them. Pursuing more than one strategy at a time can ensure the best results. Here are ten of the best ways to identify off-market real estate for sale:

1. Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is one of the most efficient ways to find off-market real estate deals. Define your target home seller and send out postcards or other ads that express your interest in purchasing their home. Homeowners don’t always know they are ready to sell unless presented with an attractive offer. Before implementing this marketing strategy, research the traits of your target audience and the best ad venues to reach your ideal customer. From postcards and yellow letters to bus bench ads, the options are endless. Keep in mind that you may not see results right away, but this remains one of the best ways to identify off-market real estate deals.

2. Online Resources

While online websites like Zillow and Trulia primarily feature properties listed on the MLS, they can be used to find off-market deals occasionally. Zillow allows sellers to list their properties 30 days before the property is listed on the MLS. To take advantage of this, investors should regularly track these sites to stay ahead of the competition. Several websites feature off-market real estate listings. Websites such as Opendoor promise various perks for buyers and sellers; most notably, they allow real estate transactions to occur without ever being listed on the MLS. Unlike generalist property listing sites, HouseCashin Investment Property Marketplace concentrates on off-market, distressed, and other property types searched by residential real estate investment professionals. Keep in mind that while identifying properties online is cost-efficient, you may have better luck with more proactive lead generation strategies.

3. Networking

Networking is arguably the best lead generation strategy in the real estate world, which holds true with off-market properties. Search for real estate events in your area and ask your existing real estate connections to build your network. Because off-market listings are just that, off-market networking is often the most popular way to identify and acquire such deals.

4. Real Estate Agents

While real estate agents are most familiar with properties on the MLS, they can also be just as savvy when finding off-market deals. To improve your chances of success and to get ahead of the competition, contact a Realtor who is familiar with the market you wish to purchase in. Agents are often privy to which properties are just about to go on the market. Curate a list of the top agents in the market area you wish to buy-in. You can reach out by phone or email and ask for any off-market listings they may be aware of. Additionally, keep in mind that even if a particular real estate agent cannot offer help with your current search, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future.

5. Builders & Contractors

Builders and contractors are good friends to have if you’re an investor looking to find hot, off-market deals. Local builders are usually “in the know” about properties where the homeowner or investor abandoned the job mid-project because they didn’t have the financing to finish the construction. While this situation is unfortunate for the seller, it can be quite fortuitous for the investor ready to swoop in, finish the job, and turn a profit at closing. Contractors and other tradesmen are constantly in touch with people in the business. If you’re lucky, they can lead you directly to pocket listings in your area.

6. Wholesalers

Wholesalers are great friends to have if you’re an investor looking for off-market properties. Because wholesalers specialize in real estate wholesaling, often, those discounted properties wholesalers find are off-market properties. Keep in mind that working with a wholesaler is like working with a middleman, meaning you likely won’t get as good of a deal as if you went directly to the source. Networking with wholesalers is a great way to stay in the loop of off-market homes in your area.

7. Public Record

Keep up-to-date public records, which will often feature pre-foreclosures or short sale properties, both of which can offer lucrative investment opportunities. Survey newspapers and state and local government websites to do so. Occasionally, these sources will also mention real estate properties that will soon be listed, offering yet another opportunity for savvy investors. Set up alerts on websites like HUD Home Store, which can let you know when up-and-coming properties are listed online.

8. Word Of Mouth

Real estate investing is a people business. Anyone you encounter—from your family to your friends—should know who you are. Let people know you are an investor looking for off-market properties. This way, you will begin to earn trust and build the respect of other real estate professionals in your market.

5 Benefits of Buying Off Market Homes

If you’re looking to invest in real estate, you may want to consider purchasing off market homes. Here are some benefits that you could potentially gain from buying off market homes:

  • Less Competition for Buyers: Off market homes aren’t publicly listed, which means there is less competition for buyers. This can give you a competitive edge and help you avoid bidding wars or losing out on deals altogether.
  • Lower Sale Prices: Because off market homes aren’t publicized, they tend to be priced lower than homes on the market. This gives you the opportunity to purchase a property at a great price before it’s even listed for the public.
  • Smooth Negotiations: Since off market homes aren’t seen by most buyers, negotiations tend to be more relaxed. This can lead to contracts that wouldn’t be possible on the open market. Be sure to have your contingencies prepared and understand the terms you want beforehand.
  • Adjustable Transaction Times: Sellers of off market homes are typically not in a rush to sell, which allows you to take your time and conduct due diligence before making an offer. However, certain deals such as pre-foreclosures and short sales may require a quicker closing process. In these cases, the lack of time is usually made up for by a greater discount on the purchase price.
  • Unique Opportunities: Off market homes may be listed due to unfortunate circumstances on behalf of the seller. This can offer a mutually beneficial situation for both the buyer and the seller, as well as offer attractive contract benefits and profit margins for investors.

According to Anthony Martin, CEO of Choice Mutual, buying a home off market means less competition. When a home is listed on MLS (multiple listing services) there will be substantially more buyers looking at – and interested in – the property. By purchasing off market homes, you can potentially gain a competitive edge and find unique opportunities that wouldn’t be available on the open market.

Drawbacks of Off Market Properties

While off market properties offer many advantages, there are also a few drawbacks to be aware of. Here are the main ones:

  • Lack of Availability: Due to the National Association of Realtors’ new policies, there has been a significant decrease in the number of pocket listings that are bought and sold. While there are some exceptions to the rules, availability is not what it used to be. This means that finding off market properties can be more challenging than before.
  • Hard to Find: With the decrease in availability, it’s important to utilize multiple lead generation techniques at once. Relying solely on off market listings could slow down your portfolio’s growth rate and make it more difficult to continue securing deals. In order to find the best deals, you may need to expand your search and be open to different types of properties.
  • Inexperienced Sellers: For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties are exempt from MLS Statement 8.0 and do not have to be marketed the same way as other listings. However, investors may find it more difficult to navigate an FSBO transaction depending on the circumstances. Inexperienced sellers may not be familiar with the process and could make it more challenging to close the deal smoothly.

Overall, while off market properties can be a great investment opportunity, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks. By being proactive and using multiple lead generation techniques, you can increase your chances of finding the right off market property for your portfolio.

Benefits of Selling Off Market Properties

Selling off market properties can benefit both buyers and sellers. For buyers, the main advantage is the lack of competition. Since off market properties are not listed on public sites such as MLS, Zillow or Realtor, they are not easily visible and do not attract numerous offers from agents and other buyers. As a result, if you are able to locate a property before it hits the market and make a swift offer, you are more likely to beat out potential competition and avoid getting into a bidding war.

For sellers, selling off market properties offers privacy and convenience. You do not have to deal with the hassle of listing and advertising your property, which means your current tenants can live in the property at peace without nosy passers-by until it’s time for them to move out. A pocket deal will allow an agent to sell a property quickly without having to sift through and entertain buyers who aren’t qualified to begin with and aren’t serious about making good offers.

In addition, selling off market properties can also save time and money for both buyers and sellers. Since off market properties are not widely marketed, sellers may not have to pay for expensive advertising and marketing costs. Buyers may also save money by avoiding bidding wars and inflated prices that often come with competition in the market.

Overall, selling off market properties can be a smart move for both buyers and sellers. It offers privacy, convenience, and a lack of competition, which can lead to a faster and smoother transaction process.

Off Market Deals Vs. The MLS

When it comes to real estate investing, off market deals can be a great way to find unique properties and negotiate directly with the seller. However, with the increasing popularity of off market properties, it can be challenging to find these opportunities. In this section, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of off market deals versus the MLS, as well as the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy.

Benefits of Off Market Deals

Off market properties provide investors with a chance to break away from the competition and find unique financing arrangements. With off market deals, investors can view a property and negotiate directly with the seller without the added pressure of a hot real estate market. Additionally, off market listings can lead to unique financing arrangements, such as seller financing, that could allow investors to expand their portfolios more quickly.

Drawbacks of Off Market Deals

One of the biggest drawbacks of off market deals is that they are increasingly hard to find. Investors waiting on off market deals may miss out on valuable opportunities listed on the MLS or other platforms. Additionally, off market deals require investors to build up connections with agents to access exclusive listings, which may require more effort than before to access.

MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy

The MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy, enacted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in 2020, requires real estate brokers to submit all property listings to the MLS within one day of marketing the property to the public. This policy was put in place to increase cooperation among real estate professionals.

While this policy does require brokers to post more properties on the MLS, it does not necessarily mean the end of off-market real estate. Brokers are still allowed to create limited off-market listings to preserve seller privacy or create an office-exclusive listing. In these cases, brokers and agents can choose who can see the official MLS listing, giving investors access to exclusive opportunities.

Finding Off Market Deals

Investors can still market directly to motivated sellers, such as owners with distressed or vacant properties, to find off market deals. These properties are often not listed, but that does not mean the owner isn’t ready to hear about direct offers. Additionally, For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties can still avoid being listed on the MLS, giving investors another avenue to find unique properties.

In conclusion, while off market deals can provide investors with unique opportunities, the MLS still offers valuable opportunities that should not be ruled out. With the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy in place, investors can still access exclusive off market listings through their connections with agents. By leveraging both off market deals and the MLS, investors can find the best real estate opportunities for their portfolios.


Off-market real estate sales can provide investors with several benefits, including less competition and flexible negotiations, resulting in wider profit margins. Despite not being listed on the MLS, investors can employ various tactics to find off-market real estate deals. It is recommended that investors utilize multiple strategies simultaneously, as off-market real estate can offer lucrative opportunities to add new deals to their portfolios.

To take advantage of current opportunities in the real estate market, investors can consider taking a 90-minute online training class to learn how to invest in today’s market. The training class can provide investors with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the real estate market successfully. By staying informed and utilizing various strategies, investors can maximize their profits and grow their portfolios.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of buying off-market properties?

When you buy off-market properties, you have a higher chance of finding a good deal. Since the property is not listed on traditional real estate platforms, there is less competition among buyers, which can lead to a lower purchase price. Additionally, off-market properties tend to be owned by motivated sellers who are looking for a quick and hassle-free sale.

What strategies can be used to find off-market real estate listings?

There are several strategies that can be used to find off-market real estate listings. One popular approach is the “drive for dollars” method, where you drive around neighborhoods and look for properties that appear vacant or in disrepair. You can also network with real estate agents, wholesalers, and other investors to find off-market deals. Finally, you can use online databases and public records to search for properties that are not listed on traditional real estate platforms.

How can sellers benefit from offering their property off-market?

Sellers can benefit from offering their property off-market by avoiding the hassle and expense of listing their property on traditional real estate platforms. Additionally, off-market sales tend to be quicker and more private, which can be appealing to sellers who value their privacy. Finally, by selling off-market, sellers can avoid paying real estate commissions, which can save them thousands of dollars.

What does it mean when a property is listed as “under contract”?

When a property is listed as “under contract,” it means that a buyer has made an offer on the property and the seller has accepted it. However, the sale has not yet been completed, and there are still several steps that need to be taken before the property can officially change hands. During this time, the property may still be shown to other potential buyers, but the seller cannot accept any additional offers.

How does the “drive for dollars” approach work in locating off-market deals?

The “drive for dollars” approach involves driving around neighborhoods and looking for properties that appear vacant or in disrepair. Once you have identified a potential off-market property, you can research the owner and make an offer to purchase the property directly. This approach can be time-consuming, but it can also be very effective in finding off-market deals.

What distinguishes off-market properties from those listed on traditional real estate platforms?

Off-market properties are not listed on traditional real estate platforms, such as the MLS or Zillow. Instead, they are typically marketed through word of mouth, private networks, or direct outreach to potential buyers. Off-market properties tend to be owned by motivated sellers who are looking for a quick and hassle-free sale, and they often sell for less than their market value.

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