Finding Deals Every Other Investor Has Given Up On

by | BiggerPockets.com

Have you done much direct to seller marketing? This scenario might sound familiar if you have.

Maybe you drive for dollars, cherry pick the best properties off a tax delinquent list, find an awesome probate deal that has tons of equity, or use some other method to locate properties that check every single box.

Once you’ve found a perfect property, you’re excited! You start your postcard mailing campaign, or skip trace to find a few phone numbers and try to contact the owner, or perhaps you even leave a flyer taped to the front door.

Then… nothing happens. Silence. Crickets. No contract signed or deal closing.

What do you do now?

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Why Hard-to-Find Real Estate Deals Can Payoff Big

Do you have a process to dive deep into the depths of real estate and ownership data in order to track down property owners?

Most investors aren’t going to push past initial barriers. They are focused on volume and will simply move on to the next deal.

But when the market is hot, good deals are fewer and farther between. And that means those that are more difficult to locate might just be the best out there.

How to Dig Deep in Data to Discover Hidden Deals

If the vast majority of competition is eliminated before making contact with the owner, there’s seemingly potential for home run deals.

When thinking about going after these deals, I wanted to come up with a scalable process. The process needed to be one that wasn’t too time-consuming but could help me track down owners, friends, acquaintances, or perhaps possible past owners, who may be able to put me in touch with a current contact.

I would then use acquired addresses, phone numbers, and emails to launch a second-round marketing campaign.

I spoke to private investigators who could do this kind of work but was quoted bids of over $100 per address to begin these searches. If I could be sure to close the deal, this would amount to pennies on the dollar of the potential profit margin. But closing wouldn’t be guaranteed, and it was still a lot more than I wanted to spend.

coworkers in office point to screen of laptop on table

I determined an economical solution would be to find an effective data aggregation tool. These types of tools pull in lots of different types of data from several databases and organize all of it in a usable fashion.

I wanted something that pulled in family and ownership records, death certificates, employment information, and then layered that with county appraisal district and deed records.

Then, I sought out a skip tracing (or contact information) aggregator to pull in lots of additional information I could use to get in touch with friends and family members of missing owners.

Related: Want to Find and Close More Deals? Get Better Data!

Once You Have the Data, Here’s How to Market

Once I’d gathered sufficient contact information, I developed an efficient method to reach out to these people, largely through ringless voicemail drops or text or email campaigns.

The goal of these marketing touches was to figure out which numbers and emails were getting through to people. Then, I set up a phone call to explain what I’m working on and offer them a bonus of some sort if they are willing to help connect me with the owner.

Casting a wide net like this is the best way eventually find the decision maker and begin closing what others perceive to be un-closeable.

Is it a worthwhile use of time? It depends on your current deal flow and where you are in the evolution of your business.

Do you have more time or money? Can you use this as a pitch or “value-add” to bigger investors or wholesalers to help them track down hard-to-find owners?

fluorescent neon sign reads deals on brick wall

If you’re willing to do the legwork and coordinate the moving parts, this can be a very valuable skill or service. It’s definitely not the easiest or most straightforward way to locate a deal, but if it was, everyone would know about it!

If you’ve driven by the same falling down house on a prominent street every day for the past year, maybe it’s time to start digging and figure out the story behind the dilapidation. Even if the owners aren’t willing to sell now, you could be first in line when the situation changes.

Related: 5 Ways I’m Still Finding Deals in Today’s Real Estate Market

When a Difficult-to-Find Deal Goes Right

I’ll leave you with a personal testimony about the value of digging deeper into the data.

I recently purchased land for a small infill residential development. There are two pieces of vacant land behind and beside my lot. I used my data aggregation tool to track down numbers and ownership details.

Both owners initially said they weren’t interested in selling. However, during a follow-up touch I spoke with one for 20 minutes. We discussed several options and strategies, including selling the land outright to me, partnering on a development, or using the equity in the land to finance construction.

When chatting, the owner even said, “I’ve owned this land for almost 10 years now and received countless post cards, but you’re the first person to track down my number and call me!”

At this point, I’ve sent over an offer and plan to keep working on it until I’ve closed the deal or the owner decides to go a different direction.

Competition beaten, and hopefully another deal closed!

What deters you from pursuing deals? Any methods of locating difficult-t0-find deals (that you’re willing to share!)?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Author

Christopher Gill

Christopher Gill is a real estate investor and serial entrepreneur based out of San Antonio, TX. Starting with just $15,000 in working capitol in the past 5 years he’s owned millions of dollars worth of residential and commercial real estate. Come hang out and let's talk real estate!

5 Comments

    • Brian Bailey

      Excellent and timely article Christopher. Now is definitely the time to find more creative ways to find sellers. As Aaron said above, what is the data aggregation tool you mentioned? Is it proprietary or something that can be purchased? Thank you for the feedback! Brian

  1. Letitia Harris

    Great article! I worked for over 3 years, tracking down the owners of an abandoned, vandalized house. I eventually found a way to contact all the family members, wrote them all letters, and actually bought a preforeclosure from another relative, 2 years ago and flipped it. I finally bought the vandalized house last year, and It should be closing next week, nicely rehabbed, and the entire neighborhood happy to have the eyesore, bad element magnet fixed. You can’t dig deep enough, and hand writing personal letters works!

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