5 Places to Find Off-Market Investment Properties

With U.S. housing inventory sinking to a record low in 2022, home sales on pace for the worst year since 1993, and mortgage rates recently hitting 8% for the first time since 2000, now can be a tough time to be a real estate investor. 

Finding your next investment property may require getting creative. Instead of looking at publicly listed homes, you may need to expand your search to off-market deals.

What is an off-market property?

An off-market property is any property that isn’t listed for sale publicly or on the multiple listing service (MLS), where agents and brokers share their listings. The owner may or may not be open to selling. 

Investors who find an off-market property for sale tend to face less competition from other buyers, leading to unique investment opportunities and lower home prices. 

Here are 10 places you can find off-market properties: 

1. Real estate agents and brokers

Many real estate agents and brokers know about private, non-listed properties for sale from working with many buyers and sellers. 

At times, an agent may have a “pocket listing,” a property that they have the exclusive right to sell but which is not on the MLS. This can happen if the owner prefers to keep the sale under the radar, e.g. due to divorce, death, or debt

By building relationships with agents and brokers, they may let you in on such opportunities. 

2. Property managers

Many rentals are managed by property managers. For example, Houston property management company Green Residential services everything from single-family homes to 150,000+ square foot Class A office buildings in the Houston and Austin, TX areas. 

As a result, they may know when property owners are looking to sell. Contact a property manager where you are looking to invest to see if they have any leads. They may even offer information about a property, such as its condition, tenants, and financial performance. 

3. Public records

Another place to look for off-market properties is public records. These include records from your local county or assessor’s office. They have title and tax information regarding properties, which could reveal potential investment opportunities. 

Similarly, you can search the HUD Homestore, which has government-owned properties listed for sale. These are typically foreclosure or tax-deed properties that the government is trying to get rid of.

4. Real estate auctions

Real estate auctions are another great way to find off-market deals. When homeowners default on their mortgage and the lender (or the government that backed the loan) repossesses the home, it often ends up at auction. This is because the new owner doesn’t want to own the property and is willing to pass it on to the highest bidder. 

In many cases, you can end up with homes for pennies on the dollar when buying them at auction. However, be prepared to pay in cash and take the property as-is. You often won’t be able to inspect the property beforehand either. So there are some risks and potential renovation costs involved. 

5. Driving for dollars

Driving for dollars means driving around a neighborhood looking for potential investment properties. You might notice distressed homes that could make for a good fix-and-flip or a duplex that could make for a good house hack. Write down the addresses of properties you’re interested in and take notes. 

From there, you can look up the owners’ contact information in public records and call them. Some homeowners may not be interested in selling, but you may be surprised. 

The bottom line

At the end of the day, there are many ways to find off-market investment properties, and we didn’t even cover them all. The key is to keep your ears and eyes open so you don’t miss an opportunity. Network with others in the industry and build a reputation as a good businessperson to work with. Eventually, deals will come your way. 

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