Get More Motivated Seller Leads for your REI Business

Want to get more motivated seller leads for your REI business? Is hitting refresh on Zillow getting old? Tired of getting constantly beat out on MLS properties? Check out these tried and true methods to jump start your leadgen and start crushing some off market deals!


Build a Website

It’s time to get yourself visible online, it ain’t 1993 anymore. Ah, 1993… Pearl Jam, parties and Purple Passion. It still feels like 10 years ago, but I digress. If you are going to treat real estate investing as a business, you need to invest some money and put yourself on the interwebs.

For about $50 per month, you can get a pre-built, customizable website template built specifically for real estate investors at Carrot or Leadpropeller. Or, if you are smarter than me, you can build your own website. They work – do it!

Pay Per Click (PPC)


Now that you have a fancy new website, how are you going to get all of those motivated sellers to find it and start clicking away? PPC is most commonly used on Google Adwords. To keep it simple, you are basically paying Google money to have ads for your website show up when someone searches “We buy houses Omaha” or “sell my house in Omaha fast” or “I have 48 cats and need to sell my house as is”. You can pretty much think up any phrase that someone could type into Google and buy your way to the top of the search results page.

The good news is, the leads that you get from PPC are some of the highest motivation sellers you will find from any source. Think about it – they are specifically looking for someone to buy their house and have taken the time to include their information for you to contact them. Why not give them what they want and buy that troublesome house?

The bad news is, this ain’t cheap. If you want to consistently rank in the top 3 of the most common motivated seller search terms (and you should, otherwise you are wasting money), you are going to spend some coin each month. However, you are going to get an ROI of about 6x to 8x your monthly spend on PPC. Have I got your attention now? 🙂

Save up some marketing bucks by dumping some money automatically into a slush fund every month using an EFT. Even a hundred bucks or two can make a big difference. You won’t even miss it.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the long game in online marketing. It is the combination of credibility and quality content over time resulting in higher organic search rankings. If your target audience is spending time viewing the online content you are consistently putting out there, and your business is a reputable one, you will begin climbing the ranks and start getting leads coming in for free. This is the holy grail of marketing and will allow you to start scaling back on your marketing costs each month for PPC and direct mail.

The downside? It takes work and time. A lot of work and time.

I like to make a football analogy with online marketing: PPC is like a vertical passing game. Fast moving, quick strike, high risk and reward. You could score a touchdown quickly, or throw a pick 6 and blow a bunch of money because you don’t know what you are doing.

SEO is like a ground and pound running game averaging 3.5 yards per carry. It is slow, boring, predictable and low risk. It takes a long time to score, but when you do it has the added benefit of wearing out the defense. Ideally you want to sprinkle in some pass plays with PPC while you are perfecting your ground SEO game.

Are you still confused about what the difference between PPC and SEO is and how it all works? This article provides a great overview about both online marketing considerations.

Direct Mail

Direct Mail Marketing

It is hard to believe with all of the tech out there, but direct mail still works as a marketing method. The thing is, you have to commit to it over a period of time, not just a one and done or it won’t work as a reliable lead generation source.

Absentee owners, code violations, high equity, tax delinquents. There is always a soup du jour for which mailing list is the best producing. The great thing about direct mail is you do not need a gigantic budget each month to do it.

Before I went full time into real estate investing, I worked off of a smaller list in my target area. I would print my own letters, stuff, stamp and sign them and mail those babies out. About 10 letters per day is all. Guess what? I bought several properties over time that way, including most of my current multifamily portfolio.

*Pro Tip: Direct mail pieces are time bombs (in a good way). You never know when someone has filed away your letter for future use. I once bought a 14 unit deal from two brothers who inherited their parents’ properties because my letter was tucked away in a folder from 3 years prior! This is why you need to use at least a 12 month lookback period to determine your ROI (ideally 24 month) on direct mail.

Bandit Signs

Bandit Signs

Are they an eyesore and piss people off? Yes. Do investors actually buy deals from them? Also yes.

Love them or hate them, bandit signs are not going away. Almost every busy intersection in town is going to have one or more “We Buy Houses” or “Cash for Your House” signs. If you put these out, be prepared to get some neighborhood social justice warriors calling to yell at you, possibly even some legal trouble, depending on local laws. Caveat emptor.

The signs themselves are not that expensive, and you could even pay someone to put them out for you. But, they are also high maintenance because people are constantly removing them and they will need to be replaced.

I personally have never used bandit signs, but I know a lot of investors who are successful with them. I also know that I get calls all of the time from sellers who “saw my sign on the side of the road” and didn’t have time to write the number down. So, by all means, please keep putting them out there!

Meetup/Networking Groups


The ultimate shortcut to getting started in real estate investing is to join and become an active participant in local meetup and networking groups and associations for investors. Omaha has a fantastic REI meetup where 80 to 100 people normally show up for a guest speaker, networking and beer.

Most cities typically have a REIA as well, which is typically just an association of other investors. Omaha has a good monthly REIA, make sure to check it out. MOPOA is another group for landlords that meets regularly.

If your area doesn’t have one, start one! Facebook makes it really easy to create a group page for people of similar interests, and Biggerpockets has an Events menu where you can also advertise for it. Put yourself out there and you will eventually get the group you have always dreamed of.

I can’t emphasize the importance of attending these enough. You will meet wholesalers, apartment owners, buy and hold investors, Realtors, contractors, lenders, you name it. The connections I have made at just one meetup have led to friendships, business partnerships, and deals worth well over 6 figures.

Driving for dollars

Driving for Dollars

Driving for dollars (D4D) is another great, low cost way to scout for deals. Simply jump in your vehicle with your phone and a notebook and drive through areas that you would like to get deals. Jot down the addresses of any houses that look vacant or are in disrepair, as these are possible leads. Then you can either mail, call or knock on the door to attempt to contact the owner to see if he/she would be willing to sell to you.

There are now some great apps that can integrate D4D with direct mail, even do skip tracing so that you can track down the owner of the property. Deal Machine and Profit Drive are a couple of popular apps for D4D REI.

Ringless Voicemail (RVM) and Text (SMS) Marketing

SMS RVM Ringless Voicemail

Have you ever received a voicemail without getting a phone call? Or maybe one really quick ring and then a voicemail? That’s RVM. It is basically a technology that allows a voicemail to be broadcast to a group of telephone numbers without requiring an actual call. REIRail and All In Marketing are a couple of providers for RVM.

SMS marketing is the same concept, but with text messaging. Both of these methods have become very popular in the past couple of years, particularly with wholesalers.

There are state laws and regulations that prevent this type of marketing and have associated fines and penalties for violations. So make sure you understand what is legal and what isn’t in your area before you begin using this type of marketing strategy.

What are your favorite marketing methods for motivated sellers?

Real Estate Negotiating Quick Tips

In the business of real estate investing, there are negotiations happening every day. Not just with buyers and sellers, but also with vendors, contractors, suppliers and even tenants. I have put together a list of some tips on negotiating with that I have used over the years in my real estate investing business.

1. “Is that the best you can do on price?”
I always ask, “Is that the best you can do on price (or terms, or whatever you are trying to get)?”, and then be quiet. I have made this one a habit, not just in real estate, but in life in general and it is very powerful. It puts the other person in a situation where they are, in essence, negotiating against themselves. More often than not, it results in a better price or terms. Seriously, it works really well – both when buying and selling. It has the added side effect/benefit of making your significant other squirm from being uncomfortable while you negotiate the price of popcorn at the movie theater.

2. “What do you think it’s worth?”
When dealing directly with a home seller, it can sometimes be difficult to find out what would be the lowest price they would accept for an offer. I like to use a process that involves 2 questions. I always ask, “What do you think the house is worth?” first. This helps to gauge the number they would be happy with, but do not necessarily expect to get. It is a non-threatening question, and can lead to them telling you a lot more details about their opinion of value based on their motivation. It will also tell you how realistic they are about the condition of the house vs. comps, whether or not a friend/family member/Realtor has an influence on them, etc.

“What would you take for it?”
Follow up this question with, “What would you take for it?”. These questions seem like they should have exactly the same answer, but they almost never do. However they end up answering this question, you are now much closer to the real number that they would actually accept.

3. Explaining Options
Always talk about the seller’s different options to get the house sold, and the pros and cons of each. Depending on how the conversation is going, I normally begin by asking them if they have considered listing the house with an agent, letting them know that it is still a sellers market, etc. 

In general, I try to steer them away from doing business with me, because if they are really motivated, they will sell me on why they want me to buy it instead of the other way around.  “I don’t have time to wait for the house to sit on the market”.  “I don’t like Realtors”.  “I can’t afford to pay commissions and closing costs”.  “I guess I thought that with the condition of the house, I couldn’t sell through a Realtor”.  “I don’t want my nosy neighbors going through my house”.  

Any of these responses are helpful to determine the best approach to help them, and their motivation level. Don’t make the mistake of making it seem like your offer is their only option, because it usually isn’t and people will see through that.

4. Selling as-is through a Realtor
Make sure to explain to them that there is always the option to list the property “as-is” on the MLS, with “no repairs or reports to seller”.  It amazes me how many people don’t realize this.  They think that in order to list their house for sale, it has to be in updated condition with all the needed repairs completed because that’s what their friend/dad/neighbor told them.

Adding the phrase, “No repairs or reports to seller” is key verbiage to add to a listing. It helps to protect the value of the home if something is uncovered during a home inspection that the seller was not previously aware of.

Explaining this is huge in establishing credibility and trust.  They may or may not end up doing business with you, but you are going to establish yourself as someone who cares about their situation and this is huge for your reputation and referral flow. At the very least, you may get a referral fee for sending business to your agent.

5. Read “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss
This is one of the best books on negotiating ever written. Voss is a former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, and is a world renowned business consultant on negotiations. So many golden nuggets in this book – I try to read it at least once a year as a refresher.

These are some that I use regularly, what are some of your best negotiating quick tips?