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Why the Best Real Estate Deals are not in the MLS

By Jamie Richardson | May 1, 2018

Experienced real estate investors know that the last place to look for the best deals is the MLS. I’m not talking about stadium funding deals for Major League Soccer, this MLS is the Multiple Listing Service used by realtors across the country to market and source deals.

Sure, this service helps millions of homebuyers find their dream home but if you want to make money investing in real estate then you need to find the opportunities that are below the radar. With that in mind, here are some ways why the best real estate deals are not in the MLS and how you can find them.

Getting Started

As mentioned, the MLS is a great service and it benefits millions of homebuyers every year. However, making money in real estate is all about identifying those hidden gems in your market. This means that you need to know where to look for off-market properties. These are the properties that aren’t listed for sale and are the one where you as the buyer have more control over the purchase price.

While it is hard to know the exact volume of off-market real estate transactions every year, some estimates put the total as high as one-quarter of transactions in any given market. In some cases, these transactions are for transferring ownership between holding companies, while in other instances the off-market deal is a true change in ownership.

Anyways, the off-market real estate is where the game is played and if you want to be taken as a serious investor, then you need to have a conduit to these deals.

How Do You Find These Properties?

As mentioned making a splash in real estate investing means knowing where to find off-market deals, this can be through networking, marketing, or even by learning how to search public records or auction websites. In fact, the latter is the most cost-effective way to find hidden real estate deals when you are first starting out.

Now, you might be thinking that public records are available to everyone, and you would be right, but the reality is that very few people know are willing to go down to their local government offices to find what is hiding in plain sight.

Beyond this, public records searches can be a great way to identify who are the key players in your local real estate market. This can include the lawyer, agents, lenders, and investors that you will need to know. Identifying these people gets you on the path to opening a conversation with them – possibly by sharing some of the details you found in your research.

While this might seem counterintuitive, the fact is that coming to a key player in your local market with something of value will help to open the door – after all, these people are being constantly inundated with solicitations.

In addition, you want to find out which auction houses in your area are active in real estate sales. The reason is two-fold as some of the properties up for auction might be due to foreclosures, while other properties might be on the auction block as part of an estate sale – hint check the obituaries!

Beyond these options, another low-cost option to finding off-market opportunities is to connect with builders in your area. In some cases, they might be looking to unload inventory, while in other cases they might be aware of potential development opportunities that are waiting for the right investors.

Lastly, you could also consider marketing to find off-market properties for sale. However, this approach is not without its pitfalls – mainly the cost of running a sustained marketing campaign. As such, marketing might not be the right fit for a new real estate investor.

What Are You Waiting For?

There is nothing passive about building up your portfolio of real estate investments, in fact, it takes a lot of work. However, once you get going you will be able to find the best deals in your market and then turn the aggregate cash flow into something that could transform your family’s life.

What are you waiting for, go out there and start your research, build up your network and get you deal flow to a point where you are constantly looking at the best real estate deals – especially those which are not in the MLS. This might not be rocket science but finding these hidden opportunities make you a true player in your local real estate market.

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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