In my 27 years as an agent and coach, I have never seen inventory this low. Many agents who work predominantly with buyers grumble that they have too many buyers and not enough listings to show them. Listing agents are not meeting their goals, and some are struggling to make ends meet. Low inventory is a lose-lose for real estate agents and buyers.

Imagine if you could tap into a pool of hidden listing inventory that nobody else knows about. These hidden listing opportunities do exist—you just need to dig a little deeper to find them and list them. In order to make your search easier, here are nine hidden listing opportunities and the tips and scripts you’ll need to close them.

Download the Best FSBO Scripts

1. Talk to Top-producing Agents

married realtors

Here’s a common story that most agents tell when inventory is low: They have a buyer who is looking. Then, when a property becomes active, like a superhero they jump into action to be the first agent through the door, hoping to get their offer accepted, only to find that there are multiple offers and the client was beat out once again by a cash offer. Sound familiar?

Well, there are some top-producing agents out there who know of homeowners who might sell “if they got the right price” and other homeowners who are still getting ready to list, but don’t have their homes listed on the market yet. They can be an excellent source of listings for your buyers if you know how to talk to them.

How to Talk to Top Producers to Find Hidden Inventory

Begin with an MLS search of the past 12 months’ sales in the area your client is looking. Sort the search by “Listing Agent.” Now you can easily scan the data for agents who have sold the most properties in that area. Contact each top-producing listing agent and ask them if they know of any properties that may be coming on the market in the area. Be sure to talk up your buyers, but remember that your goal here is to build a long-term relationship.

Add this technique to your tool belt. I know it works because I have personally purchased two properties, under market value, using this technique.

2. Prospect Expired Listings

If I needed to get new listings ASAP, I would call expired listings. Why? Simple. Prospecting expireds is still the fastest and lowest-cost way that I know to generate listing appointments quickly. The reason that nearly every real estate coach teaches expired listing prospecting is that unlike many other lead generation strategies, prospecting expired listings is predictable, duplicable, and efficient. 

Every agent knows that they can find expired listings on their MLS or using Vulcan7. However, the MLS data only tells us two things about the homeowner: at one point they genuinely wanted to sell, and the price they wanted to sell at. Nothing else. We don’t know the answers to questions like: “Why did you decide to take it off the market?”, “Why do you believe it did not sell?”, and “Do you still wish to sell?” Your mission is to get these questions answered. 

How to Find & List Expired Listings

vulcan7 geosearch

Begin by finding high-quality expired listing data and contact information. You can sometimes use your MLS, but there are prospecting platforms like Vulcan7 that make prospecting expired listings much easier. They provide up-to-date contact information for expireds, FSBOs, and more, and give you the tools you need to reach them with the right message at the right time. 

How you contact expireds is almost as important as what you say. Remember, your goal is to get three questions answered: “Why did you decide to take it off the market?”, “Why do you believe it did not sell?”, and “Do you still wish to sell?” Mailing them may be easier, but you will have a much better chance of getting your questions answered over the phone. A platform with high-quality contact information and the tools to start conversations with them, like Vulcan7, will pay for itself many times over if you get just one listing. 

Once you’re up and running, you just need to set aside an hour or two each morning to fire up your auto-dialer and start prospecting. Well worth the few dollars a month they charge if you want to get listings from expireds.

Visit Vulcan7

The more contacts you make, the more chances you have to find a seller who needs to sell now. Practice and role-play, keep track of all your activities to measure your progress, and over time, you are sure to find success prospecting expired listings. Here are some scripts to get you started:

Related Article
The 26 Best Expired Listing Scripts + Objection Handlers

3. Search for Abandoned Properties

Believe it or not, sometimes listing opportunities may be right in front of your face. Would you believe that there are people who actually forget that they own a property? It happens more than you think. At any given time, there may be hundreds of forgotten or abandoned properties in your city. Not all have been completely forgotten, some are not habitable, and others may be awaiting a future use. Either way, there are massive listing opportunities with properties like this.

How to Find & List Abandoned Properties in 2022

If you’re hungry for listings, tracking down owners of houses like this can be tricky, but worth the effort. Mail piling up, boarded-up windows, and knee-high tall grass all signify neglected or vacant properties. Here are four ways track down the owner and list them:

A. Look Up the Property in Your County Records

Finding the owner’s name on an abandoned property you know of can be as simple as doing some research of county records. Most counties provide an address search online for free.

B. Use Data From the U.S. Postal Service

Other ways include using the data from the U.S. Postal Service. Data providers can give you data about properties for which the resident forwarded their mail to another address and there hasn’t been an address forwarded back to the property. This suggests that the property is vacant.

C. Order an Owner & Encumbrances From a Title Company

You can also order an Owner and Encumbrances (O&E) from your favorite title company. Find out who currently owns the property and what the owner’s mailing address is. You can send a letter or use a skip trace service to do a reverse search to find the owner’s phone number using their mailing address.

D. Use Freedomsoft

If you are short on time, software like Freedomsoft can quickly search the Postal Service data and do the skip trace in just a few minutes. Learn more about Freedomsoft’s vacant home search and skip tracing feature here

4. Build Your Inventory With Homebuilders

Real Trends #1 agent Ben Cabellero
Real Trends #1 agent Ben Cabellero works exclusively with homebuilders

Homebuilders are another great hidden resource of listing inventory. Here’s why: Some builders don’t list any of their inventory on the MLS. Almost none list all of their inventory. Like FSBOs, many homebuilders rely on drive-by traffic and a website to drive buyers. To avoid oversupplying the market, they rarely list all of their inventory on the MLS. Therefore, homebuilders can be a great source of hidden inventory. 

Here are four ways to start working with homebuilders to get hidden listings:

4 Ways to Find Hidden Inventory With Homebuilders

A. Know When & Where New Developments Are Being Built

Many agents don’t know that most larger homebuilders plan communities three to five years in advance. Keeping apprised of the builder’s future communities will give you an advantage over the other uninformed agents. In some cases, they will presell homes long before the first shovel is placed in the ground. Ask your homebuilders about future projects and check with your city or county for newly filed zoning variances and permits, and then build relationships with these builders.

B. List Builders’ Future Inventory on the MLS

Another hidden listing opportunity is to list the builder’s future inventory on the MLS. Many larger homebuilders have onsite sales people who are not active real estate agents. Therefore, they either do not have any of their homes on the MLS or they are only listing some of them with a real estate agent. Even if the builder has properties being marketed by another real estate agent, in most states the agency agreement is property-specific. This means that you cannot solicit them on properties that are currently listed, but you can solicit them to list the properties that are not listed with an agent yet.

C. Solicit a Local Builder to Create a Custom Home for Your Buyer

Some homebuilders will build a custom home specifically for your client. In my market, Denver, Colorado, like many areas, there is very limited inventory in an extremely competitive market. So resourceful real estate agents work with local builders to build their clients a custom home where an obsolete home currently sits or on an unimproved lot.

Your buyer may not have even thought of having a new home built, or might have assumed it was out of their budget. If you develop relationships with builders, you can then educate your buyers on the process and offer them another option to get into a new home.

D. Take Advantage of the List-assist

Sometimes, homebuilders have buyers who have homes they need to sell in order to qualify to purchase one of their newly built or to-be-built homes. This technique is traditionally called a list-assist, a situation when a homebuilder pays an agent a commission on the home the buyer is purchasing and in return, the agent lists and sells the contingent home for a deeply discounted commission.

There are great rewards for agents who take the time to meet and develop relationships with homebuilders. Learn how to develop relationships with homebuilders in our course How to Survive and Thrive in a Shifting Market in The Close Pro

5. Convert FSBOs to Listings

smiling in the front of the house

While FSBOs are an obvious source of listings, many agents avoid them. Why? Because they think that an FSBO decided to sell themselves because they hate real estate agents, or because they don’t want to pay a commission. This is not always the case. In fact, there are actually three types of FSBOs. Here is a quick description of each and a few tips on getting them to list with you:

The Veteran

Veterans are sellers who have sold several homes in their lifetime (possibly an attorney or a former real estate agent). They have 90% of the home sale process under control and they are in no hurry to sell. They are OK with leaving a little money on the table. Offer them services and keep in touch with them. About 10% will list with you if you follow up.

The Do-It-Yourselfer

Unlike the veteran, the do-it-yourselfer doesn’t really have the experience or skills to sell their home. They actually do want to sell their home but believe that they can “figure it out.” The same way they “figured out” how to build their shoddy, non-permitted deck dangling from the back of the house. They are overconfident and want to save a buck. Move on from this type—they will waste your time and want a deeply discounted commission.

The Novice

This seller has never sold a home before, or not in the recent past, and they don’t understand the home sale process, legal contracts, or the power of listing with an agent on the MLS. They thought that selling their home is as easy as placing a sign in their yard. They want to do the right thing for themselves and others, but don’t understand the process. These are the people you are looking for.

How to Start Listing FSBOs Today

Find a Source

Title companies, data providers like Vulcan7, listing websites like Craigslist, and Zillow are all great sources to find FSBO leads. In my market, a quick Zillow search shows over 400 FSBOs currently in the Denver area, where I live.

Pick Up the Phone & Call Them

You may have to kiss a few FSBO frogs to find the Prince Charming Seller. But in reality, the only way to list with or get your buyer in to see FSBO listings is to call them. Not sure what to say? Here are a few FSBO scripts to get you started

Related Article
The 9 Best FSBO Scripts (+ Why They Work)

Know Your Value (Scripts)

Even if you’re the most confident agent on the planet, they’re not going to list with you or let you show their home if you don’t know your value. Explain to them why listing with you will net them more money, with less risk, than selling it themselves. Here are a few talking points you can use to demonstrate your value to FSBOs:

Over to You

Do you have a listing strategy we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments, or if you’re an active agent, join our Facebook mastermind group here.

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