Reaching Owners of MLS Listed Homes

10 Replies

Hey BP!

Does anyone have ideas they'd like to share on ways to get in contact with the owners of homes on the MLS? I've got 4 ways and they each have their pros and cons. If you have another way I'd love to hear it!

Method #1: Contact the Listing Agent


Relatively easy. Most agents (although not all) have their contact info on the listing. Or you can hire your own buyer's agent.

Agents are either hard or impossible to deal with.

Method #2: Knock on the Door or Personally Leave Your Contact Info


Very easy to do.
Gets the highest response.


How far are you willing to drive?
If the house is vacant your info might not reach the owner.
Not really scalable.

Method #3: Direct Mail


Very scalable.


Fairly expensive here in Canada.

Method #4: Cold Call




Hard to get accurate phone numbers.

@Doug Pretorius

Agent rules require that any and all written offers be presented to the seller based on the instructions that the seller gives to the agent. They might want the offers right away, or they might want to pile them up and review them while spread out over a table. It's up to the seller. Verbal offers have zero legal standing. At least for real estate. So, they have to be in writing. And, the seller has no obligation to respond.

There is a rule that an agent can request a signed form stating that the offer was presented to the seller. But, it's rarely asked for.

There's no reason to hold off on offers. The offers are either good or they aren't. And it's not about the highest price. It's usually more about which one has the best chance to make it to the closing. Of course, this makes it really tough for buyers that are putting down the minimum amount of money in a competitive market.

@Christopher Phillips I understand what you're saying, but none of that applies to me. I'm an investor. Take everything you just said and turn it around 180 degrees.

I buy from motivated sellers. There are no competing buyers. And I don't make offers, I solve problems.

Now instead of rules let's talk reality. If I contact 10 sellers directly who have houses on the MLS I will get at least 1 who's interested in doing a deal with me. These are consistent results over the course of 18 years investing in real estate, across multiple locations, in both buyer and seller markets.

But if I contact 10 listing agents, 5 of them won't respond at all, 3 will just flat out say no without talking to the seller, and 2 will promise to present the offer to the seller but I'll never hear from them again.

It makes no difference if I do it verbally, written, or do handstands naked outside the real estate office.

How do you explain that discrepancy? I'll tell you. The seller's aren't hearing what I'm offering at all. I ran a test. 700 offers. ZERO response. Contacted the sellers directly, not ONE of them had received my offer through their listing agent.

So... back to my original question. Getting in touch with the sellers of MLS listed houses.

@Doug Pretorius

You are correct. Reality speaking, even as an agent, some agents don't pick up the phone when I call and/or leave messages. It's usually the folks doing shortsales. My local board has tried to clamp down on this issue. However, not all agents are members of the board and there's a state MLS that some people use for shortsales and foreclosures. That creates a system where there is no one there to police them.

On the buy side of things, I typically try to chat up the seller when I'm showing the house to buyers. At least in my area, sellers tend to be around for showings. There are a handful of listing agents that will show the homes, but not often. Obviously, there's no one to chat up with vacant homes.

I can't personally call sellers that are on the MLS because that would get me in trouble for interfering with someone's contract.

However, you as an investor are free to contact sellers to ask them questions and see what they might entertain. If anyone tries to bust your hump about it, just report them to the board.

Part of the problem we have with these wild-wild-west agents is that not enough people report them for rules that are already on the books.

@Doug Pretorius - Forget the agent, call the broker. If the agent is the broker, well, you have a dead end. But the Broker is the one that the agent reports to, so its worth a shot, if you have a house you really want. 

Days on Market - If a house just comes on the market or is under the average DOM for an area, you may want to wait, contact the agents of expired listings. The seller may be highly motivated to sell. There are many ways to get the list of expireds. Use a service like Spokeo to get the number of the seller and call them directly then. 

@Christopher Phillips is right, there are many really shaky agents in the systems now. Many who have little to no training and are only in RE until the next crash. In our area, we have seen crazy growth of agents, and the MLS will say one thing and do another, because each agent is a $500 a year meal ticket and you are talking about millions of dollars in revenue. Money talks.

Best of luck to you! 

@Doug Pretorius very interesting strategy -  and good point about contacting the listing agents. 

Are you finding that the sellers are receptive to negotiating below market value prices with you? This is my main concern with contacting listed properties, I've rarely found that the sellers are motivated enough to give a significant discount. That being said, I haven't worked on this as a specific marketing strategy yet.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you