You can locate owners by checking out “For Sale by Owner” ads from a local major paper, a small neighbourhood publication or from online ads. They will normally be found under the “Houses for Sale” category. There are key words to look for which may be clues as to the degree of seller motivation. Ads which contain “Just reduced; Handyman Special; TLC needed; For Sale or Lease; Must Sell” are suggestive words which allude to the fact there may be some issues with the property or the seller’s “life” situation.
Secondly, there are many “For Sale by Owner” companies which provide discount flat rates to their customers who are selling their homes. These companies provide a website with pictures and property details as well as contact information of the owners.
This enables you to contact the owners directly and begin your own sales process.
Call rental ads
There are many landlords out there who do not want to be landlords anymore. Many don’t have the time, money or the patience to deal with tenants, property management or maintenance. By calling rental ads, you may get a willing owner on the phone who may be more than ready to negotiate. Some people may really need to sell but have not had the time or motivation to put the property up for sale until you call them. Timing can be everything in finding a great deal.
There could be potential deals within walking distance of you. Choose an area of approximately 300 houses. Become an expert in that area. Drive the area regularly and check for signs of distress.
These signs can be something like:
• Mail gathering at the front door for weeks or months
• Excessive deterioration of the house
• Overgrown grass, hedges and landscaping
• Lockboxes on doors, railing or poles
• Boarded up basement windows
• Zoning/municipal notices posted on windows or doors
Knocking on doors
When you see property in the condition described above, go up to the door and knock on the door. What do you say? Something like; “Hello, my name is [your name], I am a real estate investor and I am interested in potentially buying a house in the neighbourhood and I’m just knocking on doors to see if anyone is interested in selling.” Once you have finished your conversation, go to other neighbours and do the same thing. I suggest using the 10-10-20 principal. That’s 10 houses to the left of the subject property, 10 to the right and the 20 on the other side of the street.
By doing this you establish your presence with other neighbours and you may find a sale where you least expect it.
Put notices or letters on doors
In a similar fashion to the above suggestion (or if there is no one home), you can attach notices or letters to the door of a property which looks to be in a distressed situation. There are many ways to word such a notice or letter, but it can be as simple as: “Hello homeowner. My name is [your name] and I would like to buy your house.Please call me if you are interested.”