As mentioned previously, the ways to bird dog for real estate and to locate investment properties are endless. One method is to use the newspapers (hard copy and online).
The newspaper used to be the fastest and cheapest way of getting started on your property search. While it can be very time consuming to scour over all the ads, it’s a great way to find flexible sellers! Every Sunday, in just about every newspaper, the classified section is crammed with ads for real estate for sale. Buy a local newspaper for the area where you would like to find property (weekend papers are typically the best for this).
Go through the “Homes for Sale” section and circle any ad that says “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO), “Owner Financing Available,” or anything close to either one of these. Look for motivation clues in the ad. Now, go through the same paper looking at the rental section and circle any ad that lists a phone number that is in a different area code than the property. The reason for this one is that often a landlord who does not live near their property can become a motivated seller very quickly.
If you make a goal to buy a paper every week, and then make 15 calls from each paper, you may find that you come across a property to work with by the end of the month. While doing this, you are learning how to talk to sellers, which are the best questions to ask, how to ask the hard questions, and you’re practicing your buying and house hunting techniques.
The most important question to ask when you make calls is to find out WHY the property is for sale. Be sure to ask this question before hammering out all of the other questions like the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or what the square footage is. While these are important questions that you should be asking, they are not going to be able o indicate how motivated a seller might be. Approach your calls in a conversational manner, having genuine interest, and you will be surprised what type of information and results you can get.
When looking through the papers, take several looks over all the pages. Look for the ads that jump out to you as motivated sellers. These ads might contain words like “motivated”, “desperate”, “relocating”, “divorce”, “must sell”, etc. Make sure nothing has been missed.
Then check the “for rent” ads. You may luck out and find a landlord who is tired of their additional property and wants to sell.
And finally, when looking through that paper, don’t forget to look in other sections besides real estate rentals and sales! A good indication of properties that might be up for sale soon can be found in the auction, legal notices, and obituary sections.