Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Experienced real estate investors know that not all multifamily properties are listed in traditional ways. Off-market deals come from brokers who choose not to list the property on their websites or come directly from property owners. They’re often called “pocket deals,” simply because the broker is “holding” the listing in his or her pocket.
What are the benefits of these off-market deals? For a seller, an off-market deal that is usually quicker and goes many times “under the radar”, so it won’t raise concerns with tenants or property managers.
Some buyers feel that their chances of acquiring the property are better with an off-market deal than one that is listed. The reason is simple: less competition – or no competition- means no price war, so buyers can purchase an off-market deal at a reasonable or discounted price.
Creative Idea #1 to Find Off Market Deals:
So how does a real estate investor find the off-market deals that everyone wants to participate in? You have to be creative. If others use non-traditional tactics, then you’ll have to develop your own creative tactics to gain access to those most desired deals.
One idea is to create meetups for owners of multifamily properties. The key is to create value to multifamily owners and make it worthwhile for them to attend. Don’t ask for anything in return. Create valuable content for them (e.g. how to add value to multifamily properties, how to hire the right property manager, etc) or bring in guest speakers to talk about topics that will be of interest to them. You can use the meetup platform to put the word out there that you are always looking to buy properties. Hosting a meetup will help you establish yourself as the go-to person to sell their properties when they are ready to sell.
How do you arrange a meetup? You can create one at www.meetup.com. There are more than 60,000 groups currently listed and many are related to property owners, multifamily owner’s groups and more that are related to real estate investors. You can find them by city, region or other criteria so the individuals within these groups are easy to target and market to.
Creative Idea #2 to Find Off Market Deals:
Create a Blog/Podcast
Many apartment owners voraciously read blog content on many different websites, as well as listen to podcasts of successful syndicators.
Since Google changed its algorithms for rankings to search for valuable information and content, many investors are posting quality information on the web. It used to be ok to simply have appropriate keywords within the articles, but Google changed all of that to the standards that they are using now. That’s why you see so much content available when doing a Google search on a particular subject or topic.
Podcasts have skyrocketed over the past few years to a place of prominence in terms of information and education, as well as in terms of building followers of your brand. Not only do listeners gain valuable insight into a variety of investment topics, they can actually hear the person discuss their rationale behind moves they’ve made. The only way to top that kind of access to their knowledge would be to sit down with these people in person.
Starting and successfully keeping a podcast going begins with developing your niche and creating a “brand,” something that is unique to you and your business. Since your goal is to find off market deals and establish relationships with sellers, then you have to focus on having content that provides necessary and valuable information that multifamily owners are looking to hear. If podcasts are new to you, simply go online and search the many different podcast websites and courses that are available to you.
In addition, don’t limit your podcasts to just having yourself talking - instead, bring on guests who have expertise in the area you’re focusing on and have lively discussions that hold people’s interest. That’s the best way that you’ll have to build an audience and have them coming back for more.
Creative Idea #3 to Find Off Market Deals:
Attend Conferences and Events that Multifamily Owners Attend
Meeting people at conferences and events that are targeting multifamily property owners is another great way to cultivate potential listings you could take off-market in the future. There’s no selling pressure at these conferences and it’s simply a way to meet other like-minded individuals and build relationships.
There are always new events and conferences coming up in your particular field and in your geographical area. You just have to know how to search and where to look. There are conferences that cover the entire country, from Palm Beach, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada, along with many in California as well. Some have educational sessions and breakout groups, but most importantly it’s an opportunity to network one-on-one with the people that you’re trying to target.
Some of the larger ones include the National Apartment Association. There are also state and local apartment owner associations, so search for them on google. You can find listings for upcoming conferences and events relating to multifamily properties and investing here.
Creative Idea #4 to Find Off Market Deals:
Yes, texting! Keeping a dialogue going with multifamily property owners is the critical step in having an inside track to knowing when a property may be considered for sale. One approach is to text owners and introduce yourself and your interest in buying their property. You’d be surprised how effective this method is if done right. Once you created a dialog with a potential seller, ask for their email address to maintain the relationships with owner. Email them short updates that relate to multifamily or the real estate market, and basically keep adding value to them.
Providing a constant stream of key information on market pricing changes, new construction moving forward in their geographic area and information on properties that are undergoing renovation or repositioning is the type of information that most multifamily property owners would welcome. The goal, of course, is to keep your name in their minds.
Finding multifamily property owners is the key to getting this texting process started. The basic approach is to go to the county tax assessor’s office and look up the property, get the ownership details to acquire the phone number and name. It’s a bit time consuming, but it can pay off in multiple ways once you have that information. It’s also not expensive; most property searches using the tax assessor cost under $50.
Thanks to technology, there’s now a much easier way to locate multifamily property owners. One technology is called Reonomy, which provides a database that is easy to navigate and includes listed and off-market properties. The company offers a free trial, and pricing starts below $50 per month.
Creative Idea #5 to Find Off Market Deals::
Everyone has an angle. So in order to capture the attention of property owners, you’re going to have to do some things that are out of the ordinary in order to market yourself, and position yourself in a way that a property owner says, “Hey, I like this person’s approach.”
What can you do? Just about anything within reason, as long as you maintain a professional approach. One idea is to produce a short video about why you’re interested in buying a certain property and sending it to the owner. By doing this personalization, you’re showing you’ve done your homework and the property owner should listen to what you have to say.
Thanks to smartphones and simple apps, you can create a customized short video in minutes, at a cost next to zero. Just script out what you want to say, handhold the camera or place it on a tripod and start talking. You’ll be amazed at how professional it will look when it’s finished. Most importantly, you’ll be doing something that nobody else is doing - which accomplishes what you set out to do: market yourself in a unique way. This is only one idea starter, but it gives you an idea of what the possibilities are for you.
If you really, really want to get in on the off-market properties, and you should - then you need to do some creative thinking to get it going. I’ve listed several unique ways to creatively market yourself to property owners in order to not only get their attention, but to hopefully market their property as well. Create those podcasts and blogs, start texting, get to events and conferences and stay in front of the property owners as much as possible. Success comes when you can communicate directly with the property owner. The results will be well worth any effort you put in.
Are you a real estate investor and interested in learning more about passively investing in multifamily properties? Click here for the “Ultimate Guide for the Passive Investor.”
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About the Author
Ellie is the founder of Blue Lake Capital, a real estate company specializes is multifamily investing throughout the United States. At Blue Lake Capital, Ellie helps investors grow their wealth and achieve double-digit returns by investing alongside her in exclusive multifamily deals they usually don't have access to.
Ellie is the host of Unbelievable Real Estate Stories, a podcast that shares true stories from within the industry, and the critical lessons learned, from the most successful real estate investors, innovators, developers, and more from around the globe!
She started her career as a commercial real estate lawyer, leading real estate transactions for one of Israel’s leading development companies. Later, as a property manager for Israel’s largest energy company, she oversaw properties worth over $100MM. Additionally, Ellie is an experienced entrepreneur who helped build and scale companies by improving their business operations.
Ellie holds a Masters in Law from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.