Finding Off-Market Real Estate Deals: Part 4 – FSBOs, Bandit Signs and Inherited Leads

Everybody’s seen them…

Bandit signs – the ones that say “We buy houses!” in bold lettering, usually placed near a stoplight at a busy intersection or on a pole in a parking lot.

Let me tell you – you need them. They’re an extremely useful marketing tool.

If you’ve been following my blog posts on deal-sourcing strategies, you’ve learned that there really are tons of methods for snatching up property deals – bandit signs being one of them that we’ll explore today.

Deal-sourcing strategies are mostly about thinking outside the box, learning which resources best suit your needs, and weeding out or outsourcing the ones that aren’t the best use of your time. And did I mention that these real estate deal-getting tactics are essential?

Well let me be clear – they are not optional.

In my previous posts, I talked about a buffet of deal-getting tactics, including how to find foreclosures, techniques and tips for working with Realtor partners and how to effectively drive for dollars.

These are also key elements in your overall marketing strategy. If you missed any of my posts about why a masterfully crafted marketing plan is essential for all investors, start with our Wholesale Real Estate Marketing plan post.

Today, I’m going to focus on a few additional deal-getting strategies that should be included in your marketing plan: finding For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties, discovering inherited property leads, and strategically using those bandit signs.

Let’s go…

Off the Grid: Finding FSBO Properties

FSBO properties may often be dynamite deals for you – but they can also be a bit more of a challenge to find. Wondering how to find FSBO leads? Luckily, there’s this thing called the internet. And with the internet comes a plethora of information. For FSBO lead generators, check out these helpful sites:

Sellers will often list their homes on these sites rather than using an agent and going through the MLS.

I suggest looking at both houses for sale and rental listings – especially ones that have been on the rental market for a while. A landlord who isn’t getting much traction finding tenants may become motivated to sell.

Regardless of how you find them, make sure you do your due diligence and thoroughly screen everyone you’re considering striking a deal with.

Zillow has a separate section for FSBOs. He’s an example:

Here are some offline ways to find FSBO deals:

Expired Listings

Ask your Realtor partner to send you expired listings. These are homes that were originally being marketed by a Realtor but – for one reason or another – didn’t sell. Often, these sellers are super motivated.


Find those “For Rent” signs in your desired market and contact the landlords. If you want to find even more landlord leads, go to your Section 8 office and look at the bulletin board. Start calling the landlords who have vacancies, because they may be motivated sellers as well.

Action Item: Using these resources, make a list of 10 people who are selling properties. Create a second list of 10 houses that are currently being rented in your chosen market. Make it your goal to contact each one of these 20 leads to learn more about the houses they are selling or could potentially be interested in selling. These are easy ways to create fast, cheap leads!

You can also teach your bird dogs or even virtual assistants to do this work for you. However, if you’re new to investing, it’s really good practice in the beginning to spread your wings (a.k.a. do this yourself) – because you’ll get to know your local market better and learn these helpful techniques.

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land: Inherited Leads

Sniffing out inherited leads may seem like a bit of a conundrum, initially. These are the situations in which someone has passed away, and a relative has inherited the deceased person’s property or properties.

In some cases, the relative may have no interest in keeping the inherited property. Maybe they live in another state and don’t want to maintain the home, or they simply don’t have the time and money to invest in the home. That’s where you come in to save the day.

Here are a few tried-and-true methods for finding inherited leads:

Probate Attorneys

These are the folks who deal with the legalities associated with a person’s death. These professionals are working with someone who is dying and/or the family members of a recently deceased person.

I suggest that you find a probate attorney and send him/her a small gift in the mail (such as a food basket – everybody eats) with a letter explaining that you’re a real estate investor who would like to help the probate attorney’s clients solve some of the problems they are facing – such as selling a property that is no longer needed or wanted.

Online Tax Records

This is a terrific way to pull your inherited leads, for free – to some degree.

Yellow Pages

Older folks tend to still use the yellow pages. And – an unfortunate fact of life – seniors are usually experiencing deaths of close relatives. You may even want to consider putting a “We Buy Houses” ad in the funeral section in the yellow pages. It’s unconventional, but it often works like a charm.

Quick and Dirty: Bandit Signs

So far, we’ve examined several deal-sourcing strategies that are mostly free or cheap. But let’s begin to explore paid marketing resources…

The first one I want to cover is bandit signs.

These are the signs that say “We Buy Houses” or some similar rhetoric. I recommend buying these signs at Dirt Cheap Signs. You can design your bandit sign right on their website (no creativity skills necessary). Some of their yellow chloroplast signs start at just .76 cents each.

Now, if you buy 100 signs, make a pact with yourself to commit to placing those 100 signs. Don’t place large orders unless you are serious about placing every single one of those bandit signs in your target market!

Quick Tip: Make sure you order the vertical flutes for the signs. One time, my business partner ordered the horizontal flutes on accident, and the print was vertical. It was useless! Make sure your flutes are pointing the right direction while ordering.

So – where do you place bandit signs? A few ideas to spark your imagination:

      • Near vacant houses
      • On vacant land
      • Close to urban infill lots
      • On the side of the highway
      • Near parking lots of big box stores such as Walmart or Home Depot

The closer you get to an intersection, the better! Also, near railroad tracks is another good idea – because people who get stuck by a train will tend to read it more carefully.

Real Talk with Daniil: Story time – I was driving through a local town and caught a glimpse of a bandit sign with a familiar phone number on it. I then realized that it was my own sign from several years ago! I don’t have that phone number anymore, but I thought it was intriguing that the sign was still up. In some neighborhoods, people will leave your sign up – because they just don’t care about taking it down. So if you’re hesitant about investing money on these signs, know that they can be effective for many months… or even years.

If you don’t have the finances to buy printed signs, you can handwrite your own signs. You may also see more elaborate advertising techniques, such as bandit signs on top of a vehicle or printed as a billboard.

My word of advice concerning bandit signs: keep your sign SUPER simple. And make the print BIG!

I see signs out there that tell a whole story. It’s so complicated – ain’t nobody got time for that!

People literally have a split second to read it when they’re driving by. So throw out the pomp and circumstance. Your sign only needs to say “We Buy Houses” with a memorable phone number in large print. That’s it!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Quick Tip: Buy a phone number through Skype or Vonage, because you can cherry-pick a phone number that is going to be easy to remember. Then, buy a disposable phone to use with the new number. This way, you know that all calls coming in to that phone are leads from your bandit signs. It’s also a great way to track the success of your bandit signs as a marketing tool.

So – how many do you place out there?

I would say put at least 25 of them in about a 1- to 2-mile diameter in the area where you are looking to buy. You want the same people to see your signs multiple times. And if you’re serious about finding real estate deals, put out more than 25.

TIME-SAVING TIP: If you have a little bit of a budget, you should totally hire someone else to put up your signs. This is a time-consuming task and is not the best and highest use of your time. This can be done by your bird dog or you can simply place an ad on Craigslist for someone. Typical payment is $1 per sign.

Have your bird dog or laborer use the site Simple Crew – this site will enable them to snap a quick pic of a sign after they place it, and the GPS mechanism on their phone will track exactly where each photo is taken. It’s a marvelous way to have a comprehensive list of the exact location for each of your bandit signs.

Go Forth and Multiply (Your Property Deals, That Is)

As deal-sourcing strategies go, finding For Sale By Owner properties, as well as inherited property leads, will likely play a pivotal part in your investing process.

And as you now know, bandit signs can be immensely helpful in bringing in leads.

Remember, as an investor, you should Never Stop Marketing (NSM). And your success in marketing is based chiefly on your ability to explore new marketing avenues, determine what works best for you and implement those tools – full force, not half-heartedly.

Next time, we’ll continue talking about paid marketing methods – specifically, direct mail. We’ll explore yellow letters and how they can help boost your business. Also – as a little bonus content – I’ll cover a few more free marketing methods. Don’t miss out!

Talk again soon,


Comments, Questions?

My bandit sign had a long, healthy life of 4+ years. Which marketing method did you use that gave you unprecedented (positive) results for a long period of time? What’s your go-to marketing strategy? Share in the comments below.