New Note

Create a note for yourself from this lesson. Notes allow you to quickly jot down any valuable information you'd like to review later. You can find your notes by clicking on "My Notes" in the profile navigation menu.


Sniffing Out Motivated Sellers on MLS Listings

offerWant to know what I think is a terrible idea for MLS listings?

Lowballing every deal you see.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a really bad strategy.

Could you get a deal by doing that? Sure. But you're going to end up wasting a lot of people's time—both yours and the agents and the sellers—and you're going to annoy a LOT of people. Then your reputation and credibility suffer.

So, I want to explain what I look for on the MLS to figure out which properties I make offers on.

Mucho Motivation

Just like with any property you’re looking to wholesale, I’m searching for motivation.

If I don’t see some type of motivation, I'm not going to make an offer.

So, I check out some MLS listings on Zillow to get lots of helpful info.

The #1 thing that I look for that tells me if the seller might be motivated is this: The list price is already below market value.

If there's a property on the market and it’s listed at full list price based on comps in the area, I'm not going to bother with it. I move on. I only work with properties that are priced below market value.

Pro Tip: I suggest you avoid high-end luxury areas and war zones. You can do deals in those areas, but it’s definitely harder. I’ve found that the sweet spot where most of the wholesaling activity going on is in the blue-collar, bread-and-butter type of neighborhood.

Okay, here are several other factors that I look for… factors that signal to me there’s motivation, in addition to the property being priced below market value:

  • vacant properties
  • it needs work/repairs/updating
  • it’s been on the market for several months
  • it’s had price drops
  • properties that have been put under contract and then come back on the market

If I see all of those characteristics, I’d definitely make an offer, because all of those things can lead to motivation. That’s the perfect wholesaling scenario for me.

Usually you won’t see every one of those characteristics, but even just one or two means it's worth looking into it and likely making an offer.

Iowa Example Property

So, check out the screenshot below from a search I did. A student was actually asking me about my MLS strategy, so I’m searching in her area of Iowa…


You can see that most of the properties in her target area are listed at more than $100,000. There’s $144k, $157k, $129k… and then I see one for just $75,000. That’s immediately where my eyes are drawn, so I'd click on that one.

Once I’ve clicked on that listing, a new page for that property opens and I scroll down and click on the dropdown of the price history to get helpful details. You can learn a LOT of great information here.


What I discovered is that it had been on the market for a while.

It was originally listed for $89,900, and then it was pending, which means it was put under contract. But just a month later it came back on the market. Then two months later there was a $10,000 price drop. Another month later it went back under contract but came back on the market with yet another price change…

So all of this tells me that this is definitely a property that I would be interested in making an offer on.

  1. It's priced well below market value already.
  2. It's been on the market for several months.
  3. It’s had price drops.
  4. It's gone under contract and come back on the market a couple of times.

And why is that important?

Well, because this process can be very stressful for sellers—they get an offer on their property, they think they're going to be done with it and get their cash and move on... then the contract falls through—twice—for whatever reason. And they've dropped the price...

All of that that spells motivation to me.

Plus, I looked through the pictures and it’s pretty clear that the house needs some updating.

An Appropriate Offer

So, this is a great example of a property I’d make an offer on.

But, how much would I offer?

For that, I'd have to do some more research—but I’ll give you the high level of my thought process…

Of course, I’d check out comps in the area—what the cash investors are paying for similar properties. And then I’d have to factor in what repairs are needed… based on those numbers, I’d be able to make an offer.

On this specific example property—with of all the motivation I see—I’d have no problem offering $20,000-$30,000 below market value because I have a reason to… motivated seller, priced low, needs work, on the market for a while, price drops.

So, I’d just contact the listing agent. I always make my offers directly through the listing agent. Their contact info is on the Zillow page. I call the Realtor and tell them I'm an investor and I'm interested in making an offer that’s below list price.

Be upfront and honest, so you don’t waste anyone’s time and resources.

Talking with the agent directly is also a great way to get more information on the property. A lot of times, you can find out more details about the repairs needed...

Or, they may tell you straight out not to bother with a lower offer… saying, for example, they just got a cash offer for $5k below list price and they didn't take it because the seller owed too much on the property.

Bottom Line

Again, I don’t recommend lowballing every single property on the MLS—you're going to make a lot of agents mad and get a bad reputation for yourself very quickly.

Instead, go through the listings, take your time and look for motivation.

That has always been my strategy and it's worked well for me.

It could work for you too, so I encourage you to give it a go.

I’m Listening…

How do you wholesale on the MLS? Tell us your hacks in the comments section below.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Don’t go out and lowball every offer on the MLS—it’s bad business.

Look for motivation on MLS listing like price drops and time on the market.

Analyze comps and repairs before submitting your offer.

Call up the listing agent directly to make your offer.

Is there a topic you'd like to learn more about? Request a Lesson


+ Mark as Learned

Valuable Lesson? Share it:


Request a Lesson

At RealEstateMogul.com, mogul_guarantee.pngwe’re committed to delivering the awesomest, most practical, actionable content to our members … and that a big part of that is getting YOU to tell us what you'd like to learn from us. Since our REI resources are basically endless, we’d love to tailor our upcoming training as much as possible to precisely match what you, our members, really need and want out of us.

jpsig.png Request form