Legacy Wealth Holdings

10 Easy Ways to Find Off-Market Real Estate Deals

I usually tell people to look for off-market real estate deals.

Let me preface this with saying I don’t have anything against on-market deals. In fact, I think a lot of people neglect looking on the MLS or Loopnet or some of these other sites. Because they neglect it, there are a lot of deals just kind of sitting there.

On-market deals aren’t (necessarily) bad! At the end of the day, you’ve got somebody who raised their hand, called up a realtor, said I want to sell my property, and then listed it publicly for everybody to see.

That’s a pretty motivated seller, if you ask me.

However, the secret to always having deal flow is not only attacking the on-market stuff, but having multiple paths of off-market – direct to seller, no competition – types of deals. That’s what we will be talking about here today: 10 easy ways to find off-market real estate deals.

#1 Existing Email List

I remember early on in my career, I collected all these business cards from people, and I just dumped them into a drawer. And eventually I just didn’t want to look at those business cards anymore. So I put them all into an Excel spreadsheet. I organized them into different tabs with all the lenders in one, the contractors in another, attorneys, and appraisers, and all the different people that I met in the real estate world.

Flippers, wholesalers, brokers, agents, whatever.

And I never knew what I could eventually do from it. And then I realized that I could do email marketing, and that was an easy, low cost, shotgun approach to finding deals.

But the messaging had to be accurate and had to be quality in order for people to want to 

1) open up the email

2) to read the email and 

3) respond to the email. 

A lot of the initial deal flow I got was from sending an email to that organically grown email list saying, “I’m looking for apartments in Cleveland, Ohio, up to $5 million. I’m sitting on cash. Send me everything you’ve got. If you send it to me, I’ll either pay you a fee or maybe kick you some equity in the deal.” Something like that.

Here’s what that does: it’s very specific. If you just generally shoot out “Hey, I’m looking for properties in this area,” you’re gonna get a bunch of crap.

So be specific: I’m looking in this area, this size, this asset class. That way people can very specifically identify the things that you’re looking for. 

Then from there, what’s in it for them?

Why would they ever want to take the time to send you something? What…just as a favor? 

No, I’d actually tell them that I’d pay them either a fee or kick them some equity in the deal for making the referral over to me. I don’t get into the granular side of how much it is or what percentage or anything like that.

They send me the deal based on how good of a deal it is. They know what the specifics look like. I can either give them a little bit more equity or a little bit more of a fee, or a little bit less, or whatever that looks like, but I’ll make sure that they’re taken care of.

So if you don’t already have some sort of an email database created, go out and create one.


Another place that my team looks for off-market deal flow is through For Sale by Owners and For Rent by Owners. Obviously with FSBOs, there are places like Craigslist that you can look at, and you can drive around and look for For Sale signs.

But the For Rent by Owner is pretty interesting because you can call up and look up for a rental, call up the owners and say, “Hey, I’m not interested in renting your apartment. I’m interested in buying the whole building. Do you have any interest in selling?”

And that gets you directly to the seller having a conversation. They’re not marketing for sale, so there’s not a bunch of brokers or other buyers hitting them up. 

You can have a very direct conversation with them about buying that deal. Maybe go take a walk-through and develop that conversation, because now you have their phone number and you can follow up with them on a regular basis.

#3: Driving For Dollars

I just mentioned driving around looking for For Sale signs. Driving for dollars can be a great way of finding deals! 

Just like there are single family houses with boarded up windows and tall grass that look, there are apartment buildings with boarded up windows and tall grass. You can drive around and identify those that might not be on the market.

They might not be leasing units because they could be vacant, but you can identify those too. Talk to the neighbors on either side or call the building department. Figure out who the owner is. Look it up online. Do a skip trace and then start sending emails or text messages or phone calls or hell, even snail mail.

#4: Google Reviews

This is one of those sneaky, around the back door kind of strategies.

If you look up apartment buildings in your purchase area – say Sheboygan, Wisconsin – look at the Google reviews. The ones with the lowest reviews typically have angry tenants, which means things aren’t getting taken care of.

Phone calls probably aren’t being answered, deferred maintenance isn’t being handled, and there’s probably some sort of distress management situation and distressed financial situation in those deals with low Google reviews.

Find out who those owners are. Again, go through that process of skip tracing, reaching out to them in many different ways, and hop in there and say, “Hey, looks like you got some problems. Looks like you don’t have a lot of very happy tenants. I’d be interested in taking on those problems, taking them off your plate, letting you move aside. And I’ll buy that apartment complex or that commercial property from you.”

See what they say!

#5 Public Records

Another great way is a public records search. Just look up who’s got delinquent taxes. Or maybe there’s some that have delinquent water bills or liens on the property, things like that.

You know that those properties are not paying their bills, which means they’re probably in a distressed financial situation, which creates opportunity for somebody like you and me who want to come in, buy the property, help eliminate a headache from the current seller, and then create a big upside for us to come in and reposition that asset.

#6 Online

MLS, Loopnet, Zillow… these are just a few places to look online.

But wait, those are on market listings.

I’m talking about the off-market portion of that: the expired listings, the withdrawn listings. These are properties that sat on the market for months and did not sell at the price point that they were asking because they were asking for too much.

There comes a realization in a seller’s mind when a property sits on the market for six months. No acceptable offers come in and then it just falls off the MLS.

You being able to come in and have a conversation with that seller allows you to say, “Obviously this thing was overpriced. Obviously this thing isn’t worth what you were asking for. Let’s get a more realistic number in front of you.”

Now there’s an awareness that comes in with the seller. 

If you can’t get hold of the seller, just reach out to the broker.

The value there to the broker is that they already lost the listing, right? They have nothing else to lose and everything to gain by you reaching out and saying, 

“I’ll pay you the commission if you make this introduction or you present this offer to the seller, you already have the rapport built. You already have the connection. You already have an understanding of what they’re looking for. Let me make an offer through you. Present it to the seller and maybe we can get a deal done.”

That’s a very smooth way of approaching the expired listings and the withdrawn listings online.

#7: Local Meetups

There’s always stuff happening in different local masterminds, real estate investors associations, landlord associations or different kinds of real estate industry meetups that are happening in your town.

People who attend those meetings are all people with a common interest in real estate in some capacity, and they’re always coming across deals.

There are always deals being sold, always deals being bought, and there’s always funding in those kinds of rooms.

So make sure you’re plugging into those rooms! Make sure people know who you are and make sure you’re staying top of mind in your local community.

#8 Social Media

And if you’re doing it in person, make sure you’re doing it virtually as well on social media. There’s a ton of groups, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Instagram, even on TikTok. And make sure you’re staying relevant and posting on a regular basis.

I truly believe if you do not have a social media presence, you are irrelevant. You do not exist if people can’t look you up. Especially if you have a business that you’re trying to grow! 

If there’s one metric that is the most important thing that I do on a weekly basis, it is creating content for social media to continuously stay relevant in that space.

This then creates deal flow, money flow, opportunities, investments, and connections with people. All those kinds of things come from staying relevant on social media. So make sure you’re consistently creating content.

And there are companies that’ll do it for you. 

Reach out to Legacy Digital. They’re a phenomenal company that does all sorts of social media marketing and automates all of it, where they can stay consistent if you are consistently inconsistent. And they take that off your plate.

#9: Building Department Violations

Some communities have a list of properties in their community that have violations on them in their local building department. For instance, Lakewood, Ohio, which is where my office is located, has a list of every property, both residential and commercial, that have violations.

And this could be turned-up sidewalk, paint peeling, broken windows or roof shingles falling off – could be anything. Depending on the severity of those damages or how bad of shape the property is in, they rank it from 1 to 4.

You could take that list and then just do some reverse engineering on it to reach out to all the owners with a 3 or 4 ranking, maybe even the twos that have a lot of violations on the property. Those problems are obviously not being handled, so reach out to them to see if you can take those headaches off their plate.

Maybe you can buy the property, pay them out, get them out of the way. You take over those things. Now the city loves you because you’re taking the distressed property and making it clean, safe and functional. You can find some great deals that way.

#10: Eviction Court

Go to eviction court and start handing out business cards. 

Start figuring out who’s there dealing with headache properties – which real estate attorneys are there, which management companies, which landlords. Those are typically pretty motivated individuals, or they’re directly connected to very motivated individuals.

If you can be a resource to them to buy headache properties from a management company and be a good landlord and let the management stay with that management company, it allows you to get in between and find off-market deals. If you can get in with the real estate attorneys who are representing those landlords who aren’t taking care of properties or who have a bunch of problematic tenants, it allows you to step in and say, “Hey, if your guy wants to sell, let me know and I’ll come in and I’ll buy this property and I’ll deal with the eviction. I’ll deal with the headaches.”

Now I might not want to take on a distressed property today, but earlier in my career, I’d be all about that. And there’s definitely people in different stages of their journey who would be willing to take on a headache property.

So do not prejudge any opportunity. Do not prejudge any deal. Do not make up decisions in a seller’s mind that you don’t hear directly from their mouth. Reach out to everybody. You have got to make offers on everything because otherwise the answer’s always no.


Here’s what I want you to do. Here’s your action plan.

I want you to take 2 or 3 of these strategies at most and work them steadily for the next 30 to 60 days. Every day. 

Attack 2 or 3 of these different mediums of sourcing off-market deals and make offers every single day.

I would make it a goal of making at least five offers every day for five days a week, so 25 offers a week. Over the next 30 days, you’d have made 100 offers on properties,

Do this and you’ll start to figure out where the ratio appears and which different deal source is going to create the most lead flow and the most deal flow for you to close. And then you can lean in heavy on those. 

You might find a couple that don’t bring good lead flow at all, and you can discard those for your market and substitute in one of these other strategies that I provided.

But you’ve got to give it a minimum of 30 days.

Attack it for 30 days and see what kind of momentum builds and the ones you like.

Lean into the ones you don’t like, discard and keep on replacing the bad ones with better good ones. You’re going to keep on elevating your game and elevating your lead gen, proportionately as you do this over time.

As you put this into play over the next 30 days, I want to hear what your best strategy was and what’s working best for you in your local market. DM me on social media or leave a comment on the video we did on this, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beODzxLhI_k&t=619s