How To Find Real Estate Motivated Sellers Lists

I’d like to discuss how to find real estate motivated sellers lists.  Most people who are selling real estate want to sell as quickly as possible, but motivated sellers, for one reason or another, need to sell quickly.  

Maybe they have to move out-of-town due to a job change.  It could be they can no longer afford their mortgage payment, and they are trying to avoid foreclosure.  Whatever the reason is, finding real estate motivated sellers can help you land some great deals.

Where To Find Motivated Sellers

Finding real estate motivated sellers is not difficult.  In fact, it won’t require much work at all on your part.  What you want to do is connect with a local Realtor, introduce yourself, and explain what your goals are as a real estate investor.  Let the Realtor know you are looking for a real estate motivated sellers list.  

The main reason you want to connect with a Realtor is that they have access to MLS.  MLS is a great tool that only Realtors have access to.  MLS provides Realtors with many more filtering options than major real estate sites such as  

What A Realtor will need to pull your motivated sellers list

There are a number of reports you’re going to ask the Realtor to pull for you, but first you need to let them know the kind of property you’re looking for.  Here’s some information you’ll want to provide them with:

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    • where you want to buy – could be an entire city, multiple cities, or even a custom area – say 5 miles around a certain zip code.
    • property type – likely single family
    • # of bedrooms
    • # of bathrooms
    • square footage
    • maximum price you’re willing to pay

There are many other search filters available in MLS, but these are the main ones to focus on for now.

Instruct the realtor how to pull the motivated sellers lists you want

Now that your Realtor understands the type of property you’re looking for, it’s time to instruct them how to pull motivated sellers lists based on this criteria.  

It may seem strange for you to be instructing a Realtor how to pull these lists.  However, some Realtors may not have much experience working with investor clients, so they may not understand the different ways to pull these lists, and we certainly don’t want to leave any opportunities on the table.  

Here are the different lists you need to ask them to pull using the property criteria from above:

Motivated sellers list: Contains “Motivated” In The Remarks

Sometimes the listing agent (agent representing the seller) straight-out mentions in the marketing remarks or the agent remarks sections that the seller is motivated.  

Instruct your Realtor to provide you a report showing active listings in MLS where the word “motivated” is included in the marketing remarks or agent remarks sections.  

The report they email you will look something like the one below.  

You’ll see a list of properties on the left that you can individually select to get a more detailed view (shown on the right).  In the example below, you’ll notice it says that the “Owner is very motivated to sell.”


motivated sellers list: Expired Listings

When a Realtor posts a listing for sale in MLS, that listing expires after a certain period of time if the property does not sell.  This period of time varies, but the point is the property did not sell after some extended period of time.  Have your agent pull a list showing expired listings within the last 30 days.

motivated sellers list: More Than 90 Days On MLS

After a property has been sitting on the market longer than 90 days, the seller is likely getting anxious and more willing to negotiate.  Ask your Realtor to pull a MLS report showing active listings with a begin date more than 90 days in the past.

motivated sellers list: Contract For Deed

“Contract for deed” is a form of property financing in which the buyer makes payments to the seller just like they would to a bank.  

Because the seller is financing the deal for the buyer, the seller is not getting their full proceeds for the sale of the property at the time of closing like they typically would if the buyer paid cash or arranged for bank financing.  

So, why would sellers be willing to do a contract for deed?  They’re motivated to sell.  

Ask your Realtor to pull a report showing listings where the seller will consider “contract for deed” financing.  As a side note, “contract for deed” is also known as the following:

motivated sellers list: Fall-throughs

When a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, the property is considered to be “under contract.”  However, sometimes contracts fall-through.  This could be because the buyer got denied for financing, appraisal issues, inspection issues, or for any number of other reasons.  

If the deal fell through due to inspection issues, this means that the buyer paid for a property inspection and based on the inspection report, decided to back out of the contract.  Could have been a foundation issue, major electrical problem…anything – but likely a major issue.  

As a result, the property is back on the market, and the seller is probably frustrated and ready to negotiate even more.  Ask your Realtor to pull a report showing properties that fell through within the last 30 days.  

If you find any properties from this list you’re interested in, ask your agent to call the listing agent to see if they’ll disclose the reason for the contract falling through.

motivated sellers list: Foreclosures/Short Sales

Foreclosures are properties that have gone back to the lender because the homeowner failed to pay their mortgage payments.  

Short sales are when the homeowner is attempting to avoid foreclosure by selling the property for less than what’s owed on the property.  

Because the net proceeds from short sales are less than the debt on the property, short sale transactions need to be first approved by the lender.  In either case, you’re dealing with motivated sellers.

Ask your Realtor to pull a list of foreclosure/short sale properties.


Now that you’ve received multiple lists of motivated sellers, it’s time to review them and pick out the ones that seem to be a good fit, and ask your Realtor to show them to you.  

You should also ask your Realtor to pull seller disclosures for the properties you’re interested in.  The seller disclosures is filled out by the seller and discloses (or should disclose) issues with property.

About the author

Brandon Jones

Desiring to escape the clutches of corporate America, I started investing in real estate in 2015 and left my job in 2020 to become a full-time real estate investor. I now teach other how they can experience freedom through real estate investing.

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