How to Find Motivated Sellers with Almost No Money

Posted on September 6, 2013 by

You can locate motivated sellers even if you have little or no money to work with. Way back in the early days of my business I used some very inexpensive techniques to locate very motivated sellers, since we only had a limited budget to work with like many people who are just starting out in the real estate business.

One technique we used was to develop a special flyer for ourselves. We then had it printed on legal paper in a bright color. Fluorescent paper works really well for this technique. The reason I used legal paper was because I could print two flyers to a page. That way I could get twice as many flyers for half the money. On a weekend, my husband and I would stick these flyers everywhere we could think of, in gas stations, phone booths, Laundromats, on public boards in grocery stores, home improvement stores, delis, bars, etc.

We would also take these flyers and lay them door to door during the weekend days at least twice a month. Each time we would lay the flyers door to door, we would pick a neighborhood we wanted to buy houses in. We kept a chart on the wall to show us which neighborhoods we had done and when. This was one way we could use to track the leads that began coming in. We ended up getting our exercise and doing something for our business at the same time, which was creating leads that turned into deals.

At the same time we were laying these flyers door to door, we would also be looking for vacant houses. Not only would we stick a flyer on the vacant house, we would also write down the address so that when we got home, we could try to locate the owner and call them. If we ran into a neighbor who was outdoors and lived near the vacant house, we would stop and ask them if they knew anything about the owner’s whereabouts. We made some really good deals doing this. We also use a service in our business to find the owners of the vacant houses for us so this makes it a lot easier to find the owners and create deals with them.

One of the other techniques we used to find motivated sellers was to take some of our flyers and have them laminated. Each one cost under a dollar. We would take the laminated flyers and put them on the public boards in the flea markets and grocery stores. We would staple them to the public boards and they would stay up for months. The other thing we did with laminated flyers was to staple them to poles and trees where people would see them. I will tell you that the first time it rains they curl up because they fill with water from the staple holes, but they will stay up for awhile and they will bring you leads.

We had a lady call us who needed to sell her home quickly from one of these flyers. We had stapled one of our laminated flyers to a pole near her home. Then it rained. The flyer filled up with water and then curled. The lady actually went and got a ladder to uncurl the flyer so she could get our phone number and call us. Now that was a motivated seller!! We bought that house and made about 25,000 on the deal.

Another technique we use regularly is to simply drive neighborhoods specifically looking for vacant houses. We make lists of all the vacant houses we find and then go home and research to find the owners. We call and write the owners of each of the houses we find. This was a very inexpensive way to find good deals. We usually do this on a weekend when people are home so we can tell for sure which houses are vacant.

We then started asking family, friends, vendors and co-workers to help us. If we got a deal from one of their leads, we would pay them a finder’s fee. This keeps them motivated to find more deals for us.

As we were looking for vacant houses, we would also write down the addresses and phone numbers of the houses that were for sale by owner. We would call them when we got home using one of our telephone scripts. There are definitely fewer deals to be made doing this, but it only takes one good deal to make a lot of money in this business, and these were basically free leads. And as you grow your business it is very easy to find someone to do this task for you.

We also order business cards in boxes of 1,000 at a time. We used a very inexpensive card the first couple of times because we didn’t know yet whether the real estate business would really work for us, plus we just didn’t have much extra money to spend. On the same days we were driving around finding vacant houses, we would also stop at restaurants, delis, bars, Laundromats, convenience stores, and storage facilities. We would ask them if we could leave a stack of our business cards on their counters. They almost always said yes. You see, we totally understood the concept of letting people know we were in the business of buying houses.

As much as we hated it, we also took the time to call on classified ads in the newspaper under “houses for sale” and “houses for rent” by owner. We also called on any “for sale by owner” signs we had driven by as we were looking for vacant houses. Later, we got someone else to do this job for us. But in the beginning, not only was it an inexpensive way to find leads, we also got a lot of practice at talking to sellers and learning to pre-screen them. Today you can also find great leads on Craigslist as well.

There are other lists you can compile and call on as well. You can go to the courthouse and get a list of eviction notices or pre-foreclosures and call these potential sellers. This is another free way to get some leads coming in. You can also get expired listing from a Realtor and call these sellers or simply send them a letter. I have a direct mail campaign you can implement to create leads from expired listings as well as many other types of sellers.

You can make offers on active current and old MLS listings. Old MLS are particularly good since these are sellers who are probably really tired of having people trounce through their homes week after week.

You can also go to estate sales and yard sales on the weekend while you are looking for vacant houses. Many times there are people who are selling the remaining items from a house so they can sell it. You may find someone who inherited a house and needs to sell it or you may find a pre-foreclosure situation where the owners are trying to sell enough “stuff” in order to make up past due payments. I have had both of these scenarios occur while going to yard sales and estate sales. This is another way to find good leads you don’t have to pay for and create profitable deals.

You could also create relationships with the owners of storage units, auction companies, cleaning companies, pest control companies, or moving companies to bring you leads. These are people who know of folks who are moving and may have houses to sell. They will know about these leads before anyone else does and they can be a real asset to your business. You can pay them either when they bring you a lead or you can pay them when you buy the property. Just set up this part of the plan from the beginning of the relationship. We use this technique on an ongoing basis to create new deals.

You can also call your local newspaper and ask them to do an announcement for you letting everyone know what kind of business you have and what you do. This is called a press release and your paper will provide this service at no charge to you.

As you begin to do more deals, start taking part of the profit from every deal you do to put back into your marketing budget in order to grow your business. As you do so, you may want to add signage, t-shirts, vehicle signage, bus benches, ads and direct mail to your marketing campaigns.

I know that in my personal business, all of the deals we ended up doing as the years went by all happened because we started using the “poor mans” marketing campaign to get our business started.

Kathy KennebrookKathy Kennebrook is a speaker, author and has been actively investing in real estate since 1999, Kathy currently resides in Bradenton, FL and is known as the “Marketing Magic Lady” because she is the country’s leading real estate marketing expert on finding motivated sellers using direct mail.

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