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HMW #100: Finding Seller Financed Real Estate Deals!

alan corey deal finding off-market seller financed May 02, 2023


Read Time: 5.5 minutes


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Here is how to find a sweet ol' seller-financed deal so you can grow your real estate portfolio on your own terms. 


Seller-financed or owner-financed real estate deals are the creme de la creme of real estate investing because: 

  • mortgage terms can be wildly in your favor 
  • the transaction doesn't appear on your credit score
  • the deal does not affect your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio
  • you can purchase a new property with a $0 down payment


This is the Golden Buddha of real estate investing:  No mortgage lenders sniffing around my finances. Less paperwork. Quick closings. Give me these type of deals all day every day.


But I have to ask you:

  • Would you like to acquire a property for nothing down?
  • Would you like to scale your portfolio quickly?
  • Would you like to do quick easy closings?

Ok, great.  We are on the same page.

However, the terrible reality is that most people won't pursue these amazing real estate investment deals that can change their life.

Many think seller-financed deals are hard to find and only for expert real estate investors.

Or newer investors give themselves a variety of other excuses to not pursue them.

  • "It takes too much time."
  • "I don't know what to do."
  • "I don't know where to look."
  • "I don't have enough money."

Are you tapping out of the seller-finance game before you even try?

Or maybe you are stuck on how to even it find a property that offers seller-financing?

Don't sweat it, I've been there.

But don't worry! I'm giving you the recipe for success right now.

Follow these steps so you can find a potential gold mine of seller-financed properties and make offers based upon seller financing:

Step 1: Have your real estate agent set up a "seller-financing" search in your city's MLS (Multiple Listing Service.)

Obviously, a situation where organic inbound seller-financing deals come to you makes an investor's life easy. As a lazy dude myself that gladly welcomes computer assistance to do my deal finding, this is the easiest approach. 

Sellers that have ALREADY AGREED to seller-financing and have informed their agent they are open to it is a win-win.

I've acquired over 30 properties in the past 3 years via seller-financing that I have found on the MLS. These deals exist and they are out there.

As an agent in Atlanta, I have direct access to the MLS for Georgia and parts of Alabama and Tennessee. Your agent should have the same tools in your town.

I just did a search for listings marked "Yes" for seller-financing and also "Maybe". It doesn't get any easier than adding these filters.

My actual work is combing through the 41 results I got for sellers who may carry the financing and the 148 sellers who will carry the financing.

And those results range in price from $19,900 to $3,999,999 and a quick glance shows there is something for everyone depending on what you invest in (land, flips, long-term rentals, short-term rentals, etc.)

Step 2: Have your agent set up a wildcard *cash* search in text MLS search.

Many sellers (and even agents) don't know they can put seller-financing as a data entry in the MLS. But even more don't know how to recognize when the property being sold is a perfect candidate to be seller-financed.

Many listings default to language like "cash preferred" or "only cash offers accepted." But do you understand why listings that mention cash are the best candidates for seller financing?

It's because the seller or agent already know that these properties are going to have a hard time getting financing from a traditional bank. They don't want to go under contract and then have the deal fall apart because of financing. So they default to accepting cash-only offers. 

Which then begs the question, why would the property have trouble getting a traditional mortgage on it?

In my 23 years of experience, the reasons I've seen a bank refuse to finance a property have been:

  • Condition of property is too bad. Major foundation issues, missing appliances, compromised roof, mis-zoned, or a property deemed currently uninhabitable for any reason will likely get the snub from a big name mortgage lender.
  • Property is too unique and appraisal can't be done. I've run across completely safe and livable primary residences built as a log cabin and one as a castle in a major city center that just could not get appraised. It was too unique and no one could put a value on it.
  • Title is clouded or has red flags. Possibly there is a lien on the property, surprise easement recorded in the past, conflict on who actually owns the house. I've seen $30,000 unpaid water bills, $100,000 contractor liens, and mortgages that were paid off but not recorded properly.


Ok, so now you are definitely asking, "But Alan, why would I want these properties?"

Good question! You might not want them! And that's ok. Something that may lead to seller-financing doesn't automatically make it a good deal.

But here is what's important.  Whatever is going on, the seller has a problem.  And the seller thinks cash is the only solution.  The cash buyer by-passes the mortgage lenders, the appraisers, and goes straight to closing. This also happens with seller financing.   So a cash buyer is happy to get the property at a discount to handle and work out these issues after closing.  You can create the same scenario with an offer like this:

"I'll buy your property for the price you want and I'm happy to solve the problems with the property post-closing when I'm the new owner.  I just need you to work on terms for to get there.  I'll buy with $0 down payment, you provide the 100% mortgage to me, with [percent rate] and [length of loan.]"

And the variables of interest rate is completely open to you.  I've done 0% interest rate for 1 year (and then I have to refinance once the problem is solved) and I've done 7.5% for 15 years and 5% interest for 30 years and everything in between.

This is just a long way of saying properties listed as cash-only typically have problems.  Seller-financing solves these problems just as much as cash does.  So create a *cash* wildcard search.

Today's search nets me 1297 results:

Step 3: Search a home's tax records prior to offering

We are only on step 3 and this is the first step where YOU have to do any work. 

Come on, don't give up hope now! You are almost a seller-financing pro. 

You can easily do the above two steps by calling a real estate agent, but I want to give you one more way to find properties on your own to whet your appetite further on finding a super seller-financed investment property.

Whether you find a property on the MLS, or as a For Sale By Owner, or just off-market rumor mill, you can figure out if seller-financing option is easy with a simple old public records search.

All home sales are recorded with the local county and put online. Along with this public information is the sellers name, mailing address, closing date, purchase price, and mortgages the owner has opened or closed.

To seller finance, the owner needs to have no mortgage in place. So even the worst private eye can deduce the likelihood if a home has a mortgage or not or how much remains to pay it off.

  •  Home sold in 1993? Chances are they got a 30 year mortgage and it's close to paid off now.

  •  Home refinanced in 2010 for $40,000? Chances are they are close to paying it off as well.

Just Google: [County name] real estate public records

Then sort through data for homes with no mortgages.


If you really don't want to do this work, you can hire an international Virtual Assistant (VA) for $5 a hour to manually comb the data and create a spreadsheet of all properties that have no mortgage on it or close to it.

If you happen to be in the situation of not having a mortgage on your own personal or rental home now, this is how and why you get unsolicited postcards and text message asking if you'd be willing to sell your home. Those treasure-seekers are using this method.

You can be those annoying people if you'd like, as it actually does work.

For reference this is what the mortgage information looks like in my county:

So what do you think?


  • Seller financing offers both sides flexibility
  • Does not require large down payments in most cases
  • "Wild West" terms on deals; you can negotiate anything
  • Online tools exist to do the heavy deal-finding lifting for you


Are you a newer investor looking for some guidance?

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