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7 Simple Steps to Find Off-Market Properties

Looking for off-market properties?

They are the fuel for building a successful real estate investing business — if you don’t keep the tank full, your business will stall.

But what are they? What are the benefits of finding off-market deals? And, most importantly, how do you find them?

We’re giving you all of that.

We’re even going to show you the exact steps Ryan Dossey — self-made 28-year-old real estate investor with 145 properties that total over $8.8M in assets — uses to find off-market properties consistently and easily.

But first… let’s get the definitions out of the way.

What is an Off-Market Property?

In real estate investing, an off-market property is a piece of real estate that’s not listed for sale publicly, but that the owner is interested in selling.

Why would an owner be interested in selling but not list their property?

Sometimes, it’s because they don’t want to go through the hassle (and expense) of listing their property with a real estate agent. Other times, their home might require a lot of repairs and so they want to sell… but can’t do so the traditional way.

Whatever the reason, off-market properties are a great opportunity for investors.

Let’s talk about why that is…

Benefits of Finding Your Own Off-Market Deals

The main benefit of finding your own off-market deals — vs. using a real estate agent or working with wholesalers — is that it makes your business more sustainable.

By creating processes and systems to find your own deals, you’re not as reliant on others to keep your business going. You’re in the driver’s seat.

Additionally, off-market deals are usually less expensive than their on-market counterparts. That’s because you’re working directly with the seller and there are no real estate agent commissions to pay.

And, if you’re good at it, you can find off-market deals on a regular basis. You can build up a pipeline of potential properties to buy, giving you a constant flow of opportunities to invest in.

The most successful investors — like Ryan Dossey — find their own deals.

And now we’re going to show you how to do that.

7 Simple (& Proven) Steps To Find Off-Market Properties

Before we get into this, there are a few things I want to mention.

First, these steps are not theoretical.

They are not the mind-child of some freelance closet-writer listed on Fiverr as a “great real estate writer.”

These steps are tested and proven to work — in Ryan’s business and in many others. If you’re serious about finding your own deals and growing your real estate investing business, the information below is exactly what you need.

Second, be willing to put in some work.

Don’t skim through this article for a tip or two… read about the process, watch the videos, and seek to really understand what it takes to find off-market properties. If you do that, you’ll be more successful as an investor.



Start by watching this video…

Let’s get into the details…

Step 1. Set Your Budget (Minimum: $2,000 – $3,000)

Real estate investing isn’t free.

For this process, you’re going to want at least $2,000 to $3,000 to get started — but err closer to $3,000.


The reason is actually pretty simple.

Most real estate investors require about 35 leads to close one deal — that means 35 people calling on the phone.

How do we get those 35 phone calls?

Direct mail.

(More on that shortly)

Okay. But how many mailers do we need to send to get 35 phone calls from homeowners?

Well, let’s again look at some realistic averages. Most real estate investors get about a 1% to 3% response rate on their mailers — this means 1% to 3% of people call them after receiving the mail.

Let’s low-ball and call it 1%.

(It’s always better to be on the far side with these estimations)

So if 1% of people are going to call us back, then we need to send about 3,500-4,000 mailers to get 35 calls. At a cost of $1 per mailer, that’s $3,500 to $4,000. That, in turn, should allow us to close at least one deal — assuming we did everything right with our messaging, targeting, comps, offers, follow-up, etc.

Now, these estimations are playing on the far side of things… so you could probably get away with a budget of $2,000 to $3,000.

But it’s better to spend more and get results than to spend less, get no results, and feel like the process doesn’t work.

So keep that in mind when you’re determining your budget for setting out on this venture. You want to get at least one deal out of this process.

Step 2. Find Hot Zip Codes in Listsource

You’ve got your budget.

And you know you’re going to want to send direct mail to find off-market properties. But the city is big… and your budget is limited.

How are you going to make sure you get the most bang for your buck?

The first thing you should do is use ListSource to find the hottest zip codes for wholesaling in your market.

Check out the video below to learn how to do that.

Step 3. Pull an Absentee Owner Equity List

With the hottest zip codes in your market in hand, hop over to Propstream — another real estate data site.

You know the zip code where you’re going to send mail. And you know how much you want to spend on your mailers.

But that’s still not enough.

You’re not farming certain areas like a real estate agent would — you need to target specific people who fall into the motivated seller category, meaning their home isn’t listed for sale publically but they still might be interested in selling.

How do you find these people?

There are a lot of niches you could target, but the best starting point is to target absentee owners with high equity. This means they have a lot of equity in the property but they’re not currently living there.

These people often want to sell because they’re sick of paying property taxes, managing tenants, or leaving it vacant… but they just haven’t got around to it. And they are also willing to consider a cash offer because they have enough equity to justify it.

How do you find and target these people?

Check out the video below to learn how to pull a high-equity absentee list using Propstream.

Step 4. Get a Carrot Site

Imagine this.

You own a property in another state and you haven’t done anything with it for a while. All of a sudden you start getting mail from people who want to buy your property for cash.

What’s your first thought?

In the words of an Australian I once met… it’s a SCAAAAM.

So instead of calling the phone number on the mailer, maybe you do a little bit of your own online research to figure out if the person is legit.

You Google them.

What you find is likely going to determine whether you call them or not.

Do they have an online presence?

What are their reviews like?

Does their brand look honest and respectable?

This isn’t a mandatory step for getting started, but creating a website and managing your online presence is critical if you want to turn your real estate investing business into a long-lasting endeavor (vs. a one-night stand).

Carrot makes this super easy for real estate investors.

Their cheapest plan (which will do just fine for getting started) is just $69 per month and that includes a completely customizable website for creating a passable online presence.

This way, if someone Googles you instead of calling you… you’ll still have a shot at capturing them as a lead.

Step 5. Send Hand-Written Letters

You’re going to spend $2,000 – $3,000 sending direct mail to the list you pulled earlier.

But WHAT you send is just as important as who you send it to.

If you send basic postcards or yellow letters — like most real estate investors — many of your mailers are going to get thrown in the trash before they even get read.

That’s why we recommend sending hand-written direct mail.


You don’t have time to hand-write thousands of mailers?

No worries.

That’s what Ballpoint Marketing is for.

Not only do these postcards catch people’s attention… but the hand-written message — by robots, with real pen and ink — builds a level of rapport that is impossible otherwise.

Get your hand-written postcards here!

These mailers get very high response rates compared to traditional mailers… and they only cost a little bit more. They’re well worth it.

Step 6. Manage Lead Intake

After you send mailers, people are going to start calling you.

Which is good!

But you’re going to get a lot of calls.

Many of which will be people telling you not to contact them… some of which will be people who are interested but not ready to take action… and some of which, thankfully, are people ready to move forward with hearing your offer!

The interactions you have with those people obviously has a big impact on how many deals you’re able to close from your efforts.

In fact, perhaps the biggest factor is whether you answer the phone or not.

Just a 30-minute delay in response time (“I’m at dinner. I’ll call them back later”) results in 100x fewer appointments than answering right away.

Of course, you’re a busy person.

You aren’t always able to answer the phone when it rings.

That’s why we created Call Porter — a real estate live answering service built exclusively for real estate investors. Our reps are trained to speak with and qualify motivated sellers.

They will field your calls and book appointments with you or your acquisitions manager.

That way, you can spend more time building your business and less time talking to tire kickers.

You might not need Call Porter if you’re planning to just do one or two deals… but if you want to grow without wasting hours on the phone then it’s an absolute must.

Step 7. Follow Up

Wouldn’t it be great if people would accept your first offer… right away?

Well, that’s not how it works.

In fact, 90% of Ryan Dossey’s deal comes during the follow-up process… not during the first offer.

That’s because it’s all about timing.

People might be interested in hearing their cash offer right now, but maybe they’re not too motivated to sell. But in a few weeks? Who knows. Things change.

Here’s a basic follow-up process you can use…

Day 2 –  Text Message — The day after you speak with someone, send them a text message to see where they’re at. This can be really simple like “Hey. Just wanted to check in and see if you’ve thought about my offer.”

Day 3 – Call & Mail — Call them again on day 3 if you’re still in good graces. Leave a voicemail if they don’t answer. Also send another piece of direct mail at this point, which will arrive in a couple of weeks.

Day 5 – Email Valuation Report — Email them your valuation report and/or offer documents that you originally presented to them. This is a good way to remind them of your offer.

Day 7 – Phone Call — Call them again.

Week 2-10 – Email Drip Campaign / SMS — If you still haven’t sealed the deal after the first week, add them to an email and/or SMS drip campaign that sends valuable information over the following 2-10 weeks. You’re just trying to stay top of mind and continue to build rapport.

Week 11 – Add To Email List / SMS — Once they’ve gone through your entire drip campaign, add them to your other email/SMS list and contact them periodically. Ideally, once a week. Just continue to send valuable information.

Final Thoughts on Finding Off-Market Properties

Off-market properties are a great opportunity for real estate investors. They’re usually less expensive than on-market properties and, if you find them yourself, you have more control over your business.

But how do you actually find off-market deals?

That’s what we’ve taught you above.

The process is simple.

It just requires some consistency, grit, and faith in the process.

Would you like a proven script that’ll qualify and book appointments incredibly fast?


Check out the “Lead Intake” script that our answering service uses every day to answer calls for hundreds of investors: