You don’t have to let housing market “downturns” turn you down. Even during periods of low inventory, it’s still possible to outperform your competitors and stay on track to hit your income goals.

Here’s the key: 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?

6 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 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.

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 or 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 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.

One More 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 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.