How To Find Off-Market Properties

Off-market properties are those that are not actively being marketed for sale but may be open to offers from interested buyers. These properties can be an excellent opportunity for buyers to acquire properties at a discount because they may not be competing with other buyers, and sellers may not have to pay commissions. Luckily, there are several ways to find off-market properties.

What Are Off-Market Properties?

An off-market property is a piece of real estate not listed in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This can mean that the owner is not working with a real estate agent or has yet to list the property on public sites. Sometimes, an owner may be open to selling their property but isn’t advertising it as being for sale.

If a real estate agent is aware of properties that may be available for sale but aren’t actively listed, these are often called “pocket listings,” so-called because the agent has the listing “in their pocket.”

Benefits for Sellers

There are a few reasons why a seller might want to keep their property off the market. They may be trying to avoid paying real estate commissions, or they may not want to deal with showings and open houses. In some cases, the seller may be trying to sell the property quietly without drawing attention to it. This may happen, for example, if they have multiple properties in an area that they want to sell without flooding the market.

Benefits for Buyers

Off-market properties can be great deals for buyers. Since the sellers are not actively marketing the properties, there is less competition from other interested buyers. In addition, sellers of off-market real estate may be more negotiable on price because they are not working with an agent and are not required to pay commissions to a broker for marketing the property.

The main advantage of purchasing an off-market property is reduced competition from other buyers. If you’re able to find an off-market deal, you may be able to negotiate a lower price because the seller isn’t expecting multiple offers.

How to Find Off-Market Properties

Selling real estate is a big business, so finding off-market properties can be challenging. But, for interested buyers, there are several ways to find off-market deals. The best method varies on your location and the type of property you’re interested in.

Here are some of the best ways to find off-market real estate in your area:

1. Networking

For many, the best way to find off-market properties is by being active in the local real estate community. Attend local real estate investing meetups or events and get to know other investors in your area. These people may be able to point you toward off-market deals—and some may have off-market deals themselves.

2. Drive-Bys

One of the simplest ways to find off-market deals is to drive around your target area and look for properties that appear to be vacant or struggling with deferred maintenance. These properties may be owned by investors looking to sell them quickly without having to list them on the market.

If you see a property you’re interested in, reach out to the owner directly and express your interest in purchasing the property. Be sure to include your contact information so they can reach out to you if they’re interested in selling.

3. Public Records

Another way to find off-market properties is by searching public records. You can look for properties that have been foreclosed on or had liens filed, as well as properties owned by the government. These properties may be sold at a discount, making them an excellent opportunity for investors.

To search public records, visit your local county courthouse or conduct an online search. To conduct a search, you’ll need to know the property address or owner’s name. In some communities, you can visit your local courthouse to see when liens are filed against properties, by whom, and for how much.

4. Word of Mouth

Another simple but effective way to find off-market real estate is by asking around. If you’re looking for deals, inquire with friends, family, co-workers, or others local to the area where you want to buy. See if they know of anyone who’s looking to sell their property. You may be surprised at how many people are willing to sell their property without listing it on the market.

5. Online Resources

There are a number of websites that list homes that are being sold without the help of a real estate agent. Some popular for-sale-by-owner websites include and

There are also several online marketplaces that focus on off-market real estate deals that are not on the MLS or other traditional real estate websites. Some popular online marketplaces for off-market real estate deals include Roofstock, PropertyShark, and RealtyTrac. 

These websites can also be great options for investors who want to invest in multiple properties. The platforms let buyers source deals quickly and, in some instances, buy entire portfolios or shares in multiple properties.

6. Real Estate Agents and Brokers

If you’re working with a real estate agent or broker, they may be able to help you find off-market properties. Ask your agent if they know of any properties that are not actively being marketed. They may have clients interested in selling but have not listed their property yet. 

In most cases, you’ll be expected to pay the agent a buyer’s fee in exchange for finding you the deal. Still, the amount you pay out of pocket may be small compared to how much you save buying a property that isn’t actively marketed.

7. Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail can be an effective way to reach out to potential sellers of off-market real estate. Look for vacant buildings or homes in your target area and send a letter expressing your interest in purchasing the property. Be sure to include your contact information so the owner can reach out to you if they’re interested in selling.

8. Contractors and Service Providers

If you’re looking for a fixer-upper, contact local contractors and service providers. They may know of properties being sold by owners who don’t want to deal with the hassle of repairs and renovations.

9. Wholesalers

Wholesalers are real estate investors who find properties and then sell them to other investors, often at a higher price. While wholesalers typically focus on actively marketed properties, they may also know of off-market deals.

10. Real Estate Auctions

It may sound counter-intuitive, but real estate auctions can also be great places to find off-market deals. While most people think of auction properties as being competitive, in many cases, you can still get a discount compared to similar properties in an area. 

If you’re interested in bidding on a property, do your research beforehand. Note the estimated value of the property, as well as any necessary repairs or renovations. Also make sure you have financing in place before bidding so you know how much you can spend.

The Bottom Line on Off-Market Deals

Purchasing an off-market property can be a great way to get a good deal on an investment property. By using one or more of the methods above, you’ll be able to find properties that are not actively being marketed for sale. This gives you a better chance of negotiating a lower price and getting a great deal on your next investment property.

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