Apr 26, 2018 by - Pat Hiban

How to Build a List of Off-Market Properties for Buyers

During a buyer’s market, having a little something extra to offer potential buyer clients can make all the difference. Even now, as most buyer’s agents find themselves in a strong seller’s market, getting good buyers isn’t always easy.

The competition in this industry is as fierce as ever, and the rising popularity of discount brokerages is only making it harder for traditional agents to get business.

So, offering that little something extra is absolutely vital if you want to survive in today’s tough real estate environment. If you want to thrive, you need to offer something big.

That big something is a long list of off-market properties.


Now, I know that creating a list of off-market properties sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not complicated or especially difficult. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort, I guarantee that you can build an impressive list of off-market properties.

Once you do, you can create value for buyers in a way that the vast majority of buyer’s agents can’t, which will make you a stand-out selection when competing for buyer business.

That’s what Daniel Lesniak, broker at Optime Realty, discovered during his early days as a real estate agent. According to Daniel, leveraging his off-market list played a critical role in quickly establishing a foothold in an extremely competitive market and launching his career.

To this day, off-market properties are still incredibly valuable for bringing Daniel’s team buyer business, but it’s not just a marketing tool – it’s something they actually use to sell homes. In fact, roughly 25 percent of the homes they sell were never listed on the MLS.


Looking for off-market properties in the right places is an essential part of Daniel’s process. Many of the best off-market homes he and his agents have found came from the following sources:

    Your local property tax search can be great for finding properties to add to your off-market list, but you need to know how to look. If you’re looking for a specific type of property to meet one of your current client’s needs, by all means, search tax records with their criteria in mind.

However, if you’re simply looking to build your off-market list, the trick is to go back between five-to-seven years when looking at property-purchase dates. Since a large percentage of people upgrade (or downgrade) after living in a home for approximately five years, people who have owned a home for at least five years are the ones who are most likely to consider selling seriously.

    Renting out a home isn’t for everyone. Over time, dealing with repairs, unexpected expenses, and rude tenants can become overwhelming. When it does, selling is an excellent way out, especially for property owners between rental leases.

If you’re able to catch absentee owners and amateur landlords at the right time, it’s easy to push the idea of selling as a solution. To make the most of this source for off-market properties, search for rental leases that are about to expire. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to catch owners at a time when they’re open and able to consider the option of selling.

    Through Zillow’s “Make Me Move” feature, homeowners are able to set a price that they would consider selling their home for, even if they’re not really thinking about moving at the moment.

As you might imagine, the vast majority of the homes listed here are priced too high. However, as the market adjusts, it’s not uncommon for these properties to go from overpriced to somewhat reasonable, so keep a watchful eye on them.


Knowing where to look for off-market properties isn’t enough to build a respectable list. For homeowners who aren’t actively looking to move, emphasizing the value in selling is critical. To do this effectively, you need to know what to say and how to say it.


As far as what you should say goes, the exact wording you use with homeowners isn’t especially important. What’s important is that you touch on the fact that the value of their home may be higher than they think.

Explain how low inventory rates, increased interest in their area, or another factor is driving the potential sale price of their home up. If you have a buyer who’s looking for a place that fits their property’s description, mention that as well.


Instead of cold calling property owners, simply send out letters. Daniel and his agents have found that this approach generates the best response rate and is less time consuming than calling outright.

If you have a buyer and are looking for a very specific type of off-market property, there’s one thing in particular that you can do to ensure homeowners get your message – hand deliver it.

By sliding a letter under the homeowner’s door, you drastically increase the chances that they will actually read it. Unlike letters sent via USPS, which are easy to interpret as junk mail, hand-delivered letters are almost always opened.


I can’t emphasize the value of a strong off-market list enough. It’s a tool that you can use over and over to get buyer business, regardless of whether or not you’re competing against other agents for the same clients.

Even if you already have a strategy for getting off-market properties, try Daniel’s. With several buyer’s agents on Daniel’s team using his exact process to hit six-figure earnings year after year, I’m certain of one thing – it works.


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