Ten Easy Ways to Market to Sellers for Under $200 per Month

by | BiggerPockets.com

Who doesn’t want to own real estate? Well, I certainly can’t imagine not owning any. But,when you decide to purchase a property, how do you find one to buy? And, if you really want to get into real estate investing, how do you get your phone to ring with sellers calling you (which, by the way, is much easier and more effective than you calling them) and, how do you get the phone to ring without spending much money?

We get a lot of students asking us just this and, with their help, we have created a list of some successful yet inexpensive ways to get prospective sellers to call. If you find that you have more time than money to invest in your marketing, some of these suggestions may be just the answer you’re looking for!

Ten Inexpensive Marketing Ideas

  1. Post-it notes – about $200 for 4000 printed at Office Depot. Stick these yellow notes on the front door where they look like a UPS notice. They have your company name, all of your contact information, and the message you want to leave with the homeowner. Putting out 100-150 takes about 1-1.5 hours. Do that 2-3 times per week and, before you know it, you have 800-1000 pieces of advertisement out in your target market areas.
  2. Post your “I Buy Houses” message on Craigslist. It’s free, but you’ll need to repost often as the ads on Craigslist fall off the first page quickly (more quickly in some locations than in others. FREE
  3. Thrifty Nickel – Check out your local Thrifty Nickel newspaper. Ours is called American Classifieds. Consumers pick them up for free and you can place ads very inexpensively. When starting out, I ran a 3 line ad for $256 for a year (and got a lot of calls).
  4. Neighborhood newsletters – Always looking for ads and articles to fill their space. Creating a newsletter can be exhausting so offer to help by writing articles or placing an ad for your company in the newsletter. Oftentimes FREE
  5. Business Cards – Put them out and hand them out everywhere. You can attach them to bulletin boards in coffee shops, grocery stores, etc. Many advertising spaces allow you to run your business card sized ad very inexpensively. Be sure your cards include all of your contact information: Your Name; Company Name; Email Address; Business Address; Phone Number; Website. VistaPrint.com offers FREE business cards. You pay only for shipping.
  6. Craigslist – Call for-sale-by-owners on Craiglist. No, they’re not calling you, but our group has had a lot of success buying at great discount and creatively by calling here. And, once again, it’s FREE.
  7. Mail – A first class (one once) letter mails for 46 cents and a postcard (4 ¼ x 6″) is 33 cents. How many can you mail out each month for $200? I prefer marketing that says something like, “We’re interested in buying a home in your neighborhood. If you know anyone who is thinking about selling, please give them this flyer or have them call us.” For more info, see What Exactly is a Direct Mail Campaign?
  8. Websites – You can easily create a marketing website that has all the information you want to share with potential sellers. Simply choose a template through WordPress.com and use the web address on all of your marketing. Anyone seeing your ads can go to the site and read more about you before making a call. Websites really ad to your credibility and the sites through WordPress are FREE.
  9. Tell Everyone – Be sure your co-workers and family know that you’re interested in buying properties. Word-of-mouth is a great source of potential deals. FREE
  10. Social Media – Post on Facebook and Twitter that you are an investor wanting to purchase single family homes in your particular market place. The more people who know you’re looking, the higher your likelihood of getting a referred lead. FREE

Some of us, especially when just starting out, have more time to spend than money. The above suggestions will help you get started with very little out of your pocket. Naturally, as your business grows and your returns come in, spending more on marketing will increase both the number and the quality of your calls.

One final thought. Need to market cheaply for buyers after you’ve purchased your property? Most properties sell/rent from the sign in the yard and marketing online with sites like Craigslist, Trulia and Zillow are all FREE. Can’t get any cheaper than that!

What can you add to the list?

About Author

karen rittenhouse

Karen Rittenhouse has been investing in real estate full time since January 2005. In that time, she has purchased hundreds of single family properties, opened a full-service real estate company, a property management company, a coaching/training business, and written three books on real estate.


  1. Karen, thanks for a great consolidated post on getting started. Here’s another one to add to your list: walk the hood you want.

    This morning my daughter had a make-up music lesson in a downtown neighborhood I really love and drive through often. Instead of running errands for 45 minutes or cruising the streets in a car, I walked the neighborhood on a beautiful spring morning, met some neighbors, and typed addresses into my iPhone that looked like tired rentals. Nothing better than walking a street to really understand its character.

    Next step: send out a letter campaign to all of the addresses. I had a great time, got some exercise, discovered a hidden street and got a list of about 20 properties. Fun AND productive. Well, if eyeballing real estate is your idea of fun, that is.

  2. Great post Karen.

    I would recommend starting a blog once you have your WordPress site set up. Make the blog component a part of your lead generation site and lead generation strategy. I would suggest having a static front page that tells what you do and who your site is for. Then have a blog “tab” on the site.

    -If you are looking for houses, then blog about staging, tips for selling houses etc. Blog about the advantages of working with a professional real estate investor; the pros (fast cash, low hassle, quick sale, and all the rest) and the cons (lower selling price). Just talk about how you can help them and give useful tips.

    -If you are looking to build a buyer’s list or raise private money, use the format but change the articles.

    -Be sure to submit some articles to Ezine and other sites. Put a link to your site in your bio. This will drive traffic back to your site. It’s one more way that you become the “authority or expert”.

    -Adding this blog component will give folks time to get to know you. (Know, like & trust factor).

    -Create a “giveaway” and get people on your list that might not be ready to sell now, but may become motivated later.

    Be sure to have a contact form on the site for people to have a way to contact you.

    COST? Free.


    • I love this, from Sharon, key projects to grow your business.

      My Tip, on the TBer side,

      If you are SFH RTO investing, think of passing out a letter to the immediately surrounding neighbors with a coupon for tenant buyers. Costs .05 cents and shoe leather.

      Go up and down near by streets of RTO Home you have under contract. Introduce yourself. Say you have a gorgeous home for sale on Rent to Own.

      ****You want the neighbors to help you find you a tenant buyer with the option fee you want.****

      And you offer the neighbors a $250 – $500 finders fee in your coupon!

      Pick your neighbor! Ask your friends! Earn Money!

      ***I would prequalify with income and down payment in the coupon.***

      I really love this article! Thanks Karen!

      • karen rittenhouse

        Thank you, Brian!

        We always mail letters to surrounding homes when we buy a property – “Pick Your Neighbor”. Shoe leather is certainly cheaper!

        And, before we had a real estate brokerage, we offered $500 for finding us a buyer (or tenant). Much cheaper than paying another month’s mortgage!

  3. Hey Karen,

    If the Information Age, free to your phone is great. Our company set up a twitter account specifically to market homes we are selling. We advertise “for more info, text FOLLOW (company twitter account) to 40404.” What this does its signs up their cell for SMS messaging so they get the latest “deal” going on straight to their phone with basic info with a link to direct them towards an online flyer with the ability to funnel. At any time they can opt out for not receiving future SMS messages once they find a new home. And the best part, it’s free!

    • That’s right, Tiffany, I left car magnets off the list. Only $50 for a pair of “we buy houses” magnets for the car doors. And, you can leave your car parked at any parking lot (like Walmart) as a mobile billboard.

      The website is not to generate calls, it is a place where you send potential clients through your marketing. Websites give you an added layer of credibility in their eyes.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. What a great post. I only wish I had this information when we got in several years ago. We have used some these techniques bit never within a $200 budget. Awesome! This is the easiest and least expensive way to get into the real estate market that I have ever seen! Most of what we found over the years is that we had to get our name out there, then build on the relationships and now we have tons of referrals but NO ONE will know if you don’t get your self out in the market!


  5. Hi Karen,

    I’ve noticed a lot of investors use direct mail to find homes to buy. Does anyone use PPC (pay per click), for either investing or to find traditional realtor listings?

    How strong are the leads you receive from direct mail?


    • Hi Adam:
      I’ve never tried pay per click.

      Our leads from direct mail are very strong which is why we use it. We mail to the neighborhood and the houses we want to own so, when the phone rings, we know we’re interested. Not like blanket marketing where everyone calls and you’re only interested in 1% of the properties.

      Thanks for asking!

      • How many mailers would you guess it takes to close a deal? Do you calculate your ROI?

        Thanks for all the info, I have read all your articles, and they all seem to be sound advice!

        • Adam:
          We mail out 2000-3000 pieces to buy one house. But, the most important thing is not how many – but consistency – you must continue to hit the same market multiple times. Statistics used to say 7 touches to “hook” a consumer. Now, because we’re bombarded daily with so many ads, some say as many as 11 touches before a consumer remembers you.

          ROI, starting out took $1500-$2000 to buy a deal with $25,000 equity. Today, because of years of experience, we buy the same deal with closer to $400 worth of advertising.

  6. Ryan Hutchison on

    Thanks for all the good marketing ideas Karen Rittenhouse. My budget for marketing is $200 a month. I will be putting some of these ideas into my business plan I am working on.

  7. Hi Karen

    I’ve been a RE agent for some time, and I want to start building my investment website. Obviously only a small percentage of sellers that call you sell low enough to do a deal. Should I try to be listing the homes that won’t take my price, or am I setting myself up for failure this way by advertising a 2nd option?

    I would assume that a lot of the sellers don’t have 45-60 days time to sell the property or else they would? I don’t want to make an offer, and then have them ask me “why would i take this low price, if i can just list it with you for full price”

    Just wondering your thoughts.


    • Hi Adam:
      We have real estate agents in our office that often list properties when the seller wants more than our offer. That’s a GREAT second option.

      As far as the rest of your question, always slow down to think about what the seller is asking and what you are offering. Yes, you can list for them at retail, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ll get it. Our sellers often list for a time, then sell to us if they don’t get their asking price because we’re a sure thing. Listing price and selling price can be two VERY different things!

      Be sure to explain to them what their holding costs will be if they hold the property 6-8 months rather than selling to you today. There are many costs to waiting, including the mortgage payment which is probably largely interest payments that they will never get back. It’s a matter of really understanding how many advantages you’re offering them so you know how to handle the conversation.

      Thanks for your question!

      • “The costs of Waiting”!! Holding costs are often ignored!

        Karen, the costs to sell with an agent vs selling to me on terms is a great tactic!

        As Ron LeGrand said,

        “SW SW SW, (Some will, Some wont So What!)”

        On a $100K house, many times the “real net to the seller” when selling traditionally with an agent is $10% to 15% of the list price, regardless of what the seller thinks.

        So give the seller
        – a low cash (wholesale) offer,
        – a sub2 offer,
        – a contract for deed offer, and
        – a lease purchase offer,
        with different net to seller amounts.

        This is without an agent involved.

        Get more offers accepted!

        And you can do this on a “Letter of Intent” with a focus on the real net for the seller. Then go create the final offer.

        Many times this is called a Flex Option Offer.

        Thanks for such a great thread!

        • I like the idea of presenting multiple offers or options, does this ever confuse and overwhelm the seller and make him run?

    • We always prepare multiple offers before meeting with a seller. It absolutely can confuse them is you don’t handle the presentation correctly.

      We always present the offer we hope will be accepted first. If it’s not, we then present an alternative to see if they are more comfortable. Our final offer is always a lowball cash offer. It is amazing how often they’ll walk from a lot of equity because they want cash today rather than payments over time. We prefer payments over time so that our cash is not tied up, which is why cash offers are so low.

      Adam, you definitely need a coach/mentor to teach you negotiation techniques.

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