As the market shifts, so should your lead generation strategies. What does that mean for the dry times? Among other things, it means you need to know how to find motivated sellers.

What Are “Motivated Sellers”?

Motivated sellers are homeowners who are ready and willing to put their house on the market. Some may want to sell, while others need to sell. In either case, motivated sellers fall into two basic categories: active and passive.

Active Motivated Sellers

As you may have guessed, those in this group are not only willing to sell, but they’ve also taken steps toward making it happen. For example, they may have already started searching for an agent, called wholesalers or cash buyers, or attempted to sell on their own.

Passive Motivated Sellers

Those in this group want or need to put their house on the market, but they haven’t taken any action yet. Of course, there are dozens of reasons why. It could be that they don’t know how to begin the process, they can’t move forward because of health reasons, they’re afraid of selling at the wrong time or for the wrong price, they already tried and failed… the list could go on and on.

Real estate agents need to help active sellers make it to closing day and to convince the motivated-but-inactive prospects to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

But how can you find these kinds of leads?

10 Ways To Find Motivated Sellers

1. Use Probate Sales To Find Motivated Seller Leads

Believe it or not, probate sales ― a situation in which a home needs to be sold to settle a deceased person’s estate ― can be both easy and lucrative.

Yes, it does sound a bit creepy to stalk a dead person’s executor, personal representative, or family member. But keep in mind that it’s the creepiness factor that keeps most agents from pursuing probate leads, which is why this niche is usually wide open.

Someone’s going to get the listing, and it might as well be you.

Here are a few ways you can find seller leads from probate sales:

  • Check obituaries in your local newspaper. This technique is easy if your county assessor has an online database of property owners that’s searchable by name. By entering the names of the recently deceased people you see in obituaries into the assessor’s database, you can quickly learn if they were homeowners.
  • Keep an eye out for estate sales. Craigslist and EstateSales.net work well for this purpose. While not all sales listed as “estate” deal with a deceased person’s belongings, most do, so they’re worth checking out.
  • Check probate records in your area. Probate procedures vary from one county to another, so start with your local judicial district court. Many publish their probate records and court schedules online.

But these are sensitive situations, right? What’s the best way to approach them?

We asked that question to an agent who specializes in probate sales, and here’s what he does: he simply calls the sellers to offer a free market analysis.

It’s a great way to open up the conversation because it demonstrates sensitivity and helps him avoid sounding like a sales shark. By using a generic cold-calling script, he never even has to mention their loss as a reason for calling.

2. Hold Events for Potential Seller Leads

Relationship is the key to your success as a real estate agent. And there’s no better way to establish strong relationships than to have face-to-face interactions by hosting or attending in-person events.

If you’re worried about the limitations of your budget, keep in mind that even small events can yield a handful of motivated seller leads.

For example…

  • Piggyback on a local event. One example of this might be providing free lemonade at the finish line of a charity fun-run. Offer runners and their friends and families a free local housing market report or seller handbook when they swing by your booth.
  • Host a banquet. Banquets tend to draw a wide variety of people. Featuring a regional food favorite – like a crab or crawfish feed, for example – is often appealing. Or you could make it some sort of holiday celebration or themed party. Whatever it is, invite people from your neighborhood or farm area (and maybe even a select group of former clients, too). With a large enough group, who knows – you may find yourself chatting with a motivated seller.
  • Offer free workshops or webinars that are specifically designed to help distressed sellers. You could address topis like how to prepare a home to sell quickly and for the right price, understanding the local market trends, maximizing property value, or how to make the most of a bad real estate situation. And then you could spread the word by promoting your workshop or webinar through social media, local community bulletin boards, and partnerships with local businesses.

Don’t forget to gather information from your guests so you can add them to your real estate CRM. Have a guest book on hand and then follow up with your new (or updated) leads “until they sell or die,” as the old saying goes.

3. Target Distressed Sellers

Distressed sellers are those who need to sell urgently. It often has something to do with paying off debts, dealing with foreclosure or pre-foreclosure, or responding to an emergency of some kind. Whatever the case may be, the homeowners are unable to manage the property physically or financially and they have no option but to sell.

How can you find distressed sellers?

  • “Drive for dollars.” Take a drive around your target areas and see if you can spot any homes that are in disrepair. The physical appearance of a distressed property is often a strong enough indicator that a motivated seller needs the help of an expert agent.
  • Search online. You don’t have to drive around town to find motivated sellers. There are many websites that allow you to search from the comfort of your own home. For example, check out Foreclosure.com or Auction.com. And if you’re registered to sell for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, you can find lists of government-owned properties at the General Services Administration and United States Department of Agriculture, for example.
  • Target expired listings. Though not all owners of expired listings are distressed, there’s a good chance you’ll find some if you go this route. They may be experiencing a time crunch since they failed to sell when they needed to, for example. In any case – distressed or not – they’re highly motivated to sell. On your MLS dashboard, filter listings by date and the “expired” status. In sensitive situations like this, it can be difficult to know what to say at first. Get all the help you need with the best expired listing scripts.

4. Reach Out to FSBOs

FSBO (for sale by owner) leads are among the warmest of all real estate leads. Here’s why: Most likely, they’re dealing with several obstacles and they’ve become all too aware of how difficult it is to sell on their own.

They’re often more than ready to get help from an agent (even if they’re not quite ready to admit that at first). They fit within the “active motivated seller” group mentioned above.

You can find FSBO listings on sites like ForSaleByOwner.com or Zillow.

First, gather as much information as you can about the lead and the listing’s background. From there, call these motivated sellers and show them that you’re competent, capable, and the obvious person to work with if they decide to list with an agent instead.

Here are the seven best FSBO scripts for real estate agents.

5. Work With Divorce Leads

As with probate sales, this isn’t exactly a pleasant topic. And divorcees may not be the happiest clients you’ll work with.

But don’t worry – closing deals with this segment of motivated sellers can be more than worth the effort. Because if you do it the right way, you can garner the commission income from both the sale and the purchase of their next home – and maybe even doing the same for the ex-spouse!

How do you find divorce leads? Here are some ideas to try.

  • Partner with divorce attorneys
  • Partner with lenders who specialize in divorce cases
  • If divorce records are made public in your state, consult your local city clerk’s website
  • Use targeted ads on social media

6. Assist With Relocation Services

Corporations and government agencies are sometimes responsible for relocating their employees to a different city, state, or province. You can be the real estate agent who helps both the business and their employees (who are guaranteed to be highly motivated sellers!) with the move.

There are two main ways to start acquiring relocation leads.

  • Partner with companies who are in a related field. Reach out to movers, storage facilities, and local relocation service providers.
  • Reach out to the HR teams at large employers in your area and offer to help with their relocation services. If you land that kind of a partnership, you’ll have opened for yourself a reliable stream of leads who are willing and ready to both buy and sell.

7. Network with Real Estate Investors

Real estate investors are often on the lookout for distressed properties or homeowners looking to sell quickly. Attend local real estate investment meetings, join online forums, and participate in networking events to build connections with investors.

Share your expertise as a real estate agent and express your interest in finding motivated seller leads. Consider offering to collaborate on deals or provide insights into the local market. By building relationships with investors, you can tap into a valuable source of potential leads.

8. Leverage Social Media Targeting

Harness the power of social media advertising to target potential motivated sellers. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to create targeted ads based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. Create targeted ads tailored to motivated sellers and use compelling visuals and messaging to capture their attention. (If you need a quick how-to for any of this, check out this beginner’s guide to real estate social media marketing.)

For example, design ads that highlight the benefits of working with a real estate agent in challenging selling situations. Direct users to a landing page where they can provide their contact information or request more details. Regularly monitor and adjust your social media campaigns based on their performance to optimize lead generation.

9. Handwrite Letters

Sending handwritten letters to owners of distressed properties is a classic, highly effective, and personal approach that can make a significant impact.

It’s a good idea to handwrite your letters because “the medium is the message,” as the saying goes. In other words, your dedication to provide excellent customer service is evidenced by the fact that you took the time and effort to write them a letter. It shows you actually care about them and their situation and that you’re not a sales shark looking to make a quick sale.

Handwritten letters convey a personal touch that printed materials just can’t have. They stand out amidst the sea of emails and junk mail that your prospects are likely receiving every day. This personal connection can be crucial when reaching out to prospects of all kinds, and perhaps especially motivated sellers.

  • Craft a compelling message. Your letter should be concise, compelling, and empathetic. Address common concerns or challenges faced by motivated sellers and explain how your expertise can help them navigate the selling process. Avoid excessive jargon and use language that resonates with the homeowner.
  • Personalize each letter. The fact that it’s handwritten is powerful enough, but personalization takes it a step further. Include the recipient’s name and specific details related to their property or situation. Reference local landmarks or neighborhood features to reinforce your connection to the community.
  • Include a call to action. Clearly state what you want the recipient to do next. Whether it’s scheduling a free consultation, visiting your website, or calling a dedicated phone number… make the next steps easy to understand.

10. The Easiest Way To Find Motivated Sellers

With Market Leader’s HouseValues leads, you can capture prospective home sellers early – when they’re motivated and searching for a home valuation.

Here’s how it works. Potential sellers visit HouseValues.com to request a free personalized home valuation. Their information – including property details and listing time frame – is then passed straight into your CRM for easy followup!

Learn how you can (passively) receive a guaranteed minimum number of exclusive seller leads from your desired areas each month so your business doesn’t get impacted as heavily during the many inevitable housing market shifts.