Let’s Make a Deal

To find the best real estate deals, look for telltale signs that an owner may be thinking of selling … even before he advertises the property.

 1. The Home-Alone Technique

Whenever you see a vacant home in your target area, stop and jot down the address. Look up the owner in the county property records and call or write him to ask if he’d be interested in selling the property. If the house is in desperate need of a paint job or has a severely overgrown lawn, you may have found a motivated seller before he’s actually put the property on the market. If he wants to sell, you may have found a property at a very good price.

2. The Garage Sale

Sometimes, before an owner puts his property up for sale, he’ll hold a garage sale to clear the house of all clutter and get it into “showing” shape. So keep an eye on your local paper for garage sales and moving sales in your target areas.

Don’t waste time attending the sales. Just call to find out what they’re selling. During the conversation, explain that you’re looking for a home in the area – and ask if they know of any that are coming up for sale. Occasionally, you may find that you can buy not only what’s in the garage, but the house itself.

3. Out-of-State Owners

Whenever you’re researching local property values, be sure to make note of all out-of-state property owners. The property rolls should list the mailing address of the owner in addition to the details of the property itself. When the owner’s address is out of state, send him a letter or look him up in the phone directory and call him to find out if he might be interested in selling.

4. Code Violations

A property with a number of code violations can be a signal that the owner cannot afford to keep up the property or may no longer be interested in taking care of it. Some towns will physically tag a property that has code violations. Learn to recognize that tag and keep an eye out for it as you drive through your target areas.

(Ed. Note: To start making your fortune investing in real estate, pick up a copy of Michael Masterson’s newest book, Automatic Wealth for Grads…and Anyone Else Just Starting Out .)