Finding Leads with No Money?

After experiencing several very difficult and expensive events in my life things are gradually turning around and I want to get back into Wholesaling property.

However, I find myself with no money and need a refresher on the quickest ways to find leads without spending money on some form of advertizing.

I would appreciate any comments and ideas on the best ways to find leads for Wholesale properties with no money.

Thanks for your help.


Hi drw58,
I’ve been getting “Notice of Default” lists from a local Title Company. They email the list to me for the counties I am interested in. There is NO Fee for this list! :slight_smile: This list is very detailed and up to date. These are people who are behind on their mortgage payments and are facing foreclosure. They are usually very motivated to find a solution to their problem.
I also send letters of intro., to divorce attorney’s for leads.
Hope this helps.
Good Luck & Happy Hunting!

Howdy SBarber:

Actually the last 3 house deals I have done have been listed for sale in the MLS thru Realtors. I am doing a commercial deal too that was listed in, a commercial listing service for commercial deals.

The last house I bought for $24,000 listed at $29,900 and if you would have gotten it under contract I probably would have paid you $10,000 profit to buy it from you and maybe even $15,000.

These deals do not happen everyday and their is no big tag on the house saying I am a bargain please buy me. Being in the mix of things and looking and offering and getting the word out that you buy houses is a great way to make deals happen.

Several times I have gone to look at a listing I thought may be OK and see a better deal next door and end up buying two houses on the street. There is a good feeling in buying the worst house on the street and making it the best looking and hopefully some money too.

If nothing else drive an area and find the vacant houses and call the owners. Some are in lawsuits between heirs a lot you will not be able to get in touch with. Ask the neighbors about the house too. Someone knows how to find these lost souls.

Hope my little bit of experience helps some

I contacted title companies in my local area and none of them seem to have access to this “notice of default” list

Any advice…

Not having money for advertising means that you have to take advantage of your center of influenece… You better be telling everyone you know that youre an Investor… As for buying out of the MLS… that is one of the most expensive forms of advertising…

Good Luck and dont worry sweat marketing can be accomplished with great results…

Michael Quarles

Well, there is no magical solution… time for extensive cold calling and door knocking. Your other alternative is to get a job and save up.

how about going to your local court and getting the notice of default list. i didnt know that a title company would be able to provide this, maybe there is another name for it?

FREE & Public Record - You can physically go to the court house and also look for recently filings:

a. preforeclosures,
b. evictions,
c. pending divorces,
d. probate,
e. bankruptcy

Read the newspapers - on and off line. Call all FRBOs and FSBOs. Keep good records so you know when things have been listed for a while…that’s when the seller motivation might kick in.

“Driving for Dollars” (will cost you gas money).

Go to and get some “free” business cards (you only pay for shipping) - plaster them everywhere.

Attend your local REIA meeting…many of them you can pay a small fee to attend without having to become a member.

Peruse Craigslist - regularly

Do at least one thing each and every day…


thanks chris, i do have a question with bankruptcy’s wouldnt the house be tied up in the case? how would that work?

This is a business.

If you don’t have money, you have to start driving around looking for junkers or start doorknocking preforeclosures.


I know you are focusing on wholesaling right now but for some real quick cash why don’t you try just placing t/bs into rent to own deals and collect the option fee? It is a very quick way to make $1500+ without spending a whole lot (just the cost of some signs and maybe a newspaper). Just an idea.

Good luck and welcome back to the game.


Is there away to have these lists emailed?

a. preforeclosures,
b. evictions,
c. pending divorces,
d. probate,
e. bankruptcy

I do have money for advertising so if I had to pay for the above lists then I would. Aren’t there list brokers or??? I’ve used info usa but they to my knowledge don’t have the above lists. It would be very easy to have this info emailed monthly and not have to physically go to the court house. In fact I would pay monthly for a service like this. I’m a systems guy and would like to automate this part of my business ASAP.


If you want the least expensive method for creating leads… It all about who you know!

Networking IMHO should be done on purpose…

Sorry that its so friggin long but may be on point.

Getting Others to Promote You

A lot of people have business cards but don’t really know why they have them other than to hand out at cocktail parties or use to jot down quick notes and telephone numbers. I’ve seen other people with nice-looking cards, but they are only willing to give them out selectively as they’re “too expensive to just toss around.” But these are, at best, poor uses for this potentially powerful marketing tool.

Business cards are commonly viewed as a one-to-one ratio of effectiveness. What I mean by this is, what is typically expected from a card being handed out is that only the individual who receives the card might respond by calling the printed number or visiting the web site, if it’s even listed on the card. This is a shortcoming of intention in how they should be used.

Business cards work best when they’re handed out aggressively in conjunction with the right personality. Here’s the information behind why business cards can work far beyond the one-to-one ratio:

People want to be helpful to their friends, family, acquaintances and, in many cases, even their colleagues. When someone mentions they need something, most people will offer up their knowledge and connections. Here’s an example:

Two people are standing in line at the checkout counter of a grocery store and they happen to start talking about something, anything – let’s say “cars.” Person “A” says they need a new one. And if person “B” knows of a reputable car dealer, (possibly an oxymoron, but just the same) she will likely tell person “A” of this dealer.

This type of thing happens all the time, everyday. And if she actually had this car dealer’s business card, she could give out his phone number or even a spare card.

If you’ve grown somewhat cynical over time, you might have some doubt to the reality of these kinds of random acts of kindness. And you may even be right. Maybe there are only 30% of people who will actually do this kind of thing; we all know that people can be self-centered. So how does one increase this percentage and get others to aggressively promote you?

This is done the very same way that the car dealer did with this pretend woman (person “B”). He offers a “Birddog Fee” (a reward) for all referrals who end up buying. And this is what you will do as well. People will then, either out of the kindness of their hearts or through selfish greed, recommend you as the BEST real estate investor around! Now you’re looking at a much higher percentage of people readily promoting you for free unless they find you a “live one” who ends up selling their house to you or buying one that you want to sell.

It’s amazing how far people will go for a simple reward. I happen to think it’s out of the goodness in others, and the fact that people simply love a pat on the back. And giving someone a check for 100 bucks, heck even $500 if the deal is a good one, is a very nice way to tell someone they’ve done a good job.

The way to do this is rather than give a single business card to everyone I come in contact with, I give two or three business cards and tell them: “I give up to $500 to anyone who refers someone that I end up buying a house from, just for giving them one of my cards. Just write your name and phone number on the back of these cards. I ask everyone who calls me where they found out about me. If your name is mentioned, you get the commission. It’s that easy!”

I take it one step further—I ask them to gather the person’s name and telephone they are referring me to and call me with it. This is better assurance that their effort of promoting me will reward them with the referral fee. Believe me, people who feel comfortable with you will call you with this information.

Now you have others handing out your cards for you. The more you do this, the greater the number of people you have working for you as a supporter to your cause – to help people sell their houses, and for you to make a darn good living.

So Who Do You Give Your Business Card To?
There are three types of people you will be giving your business card to who will help you promote your business:

  1. people you know,
  2. your acquaintances, and
  3. people you don’t know.

Talking to People You Know
This group of people is probably the least tapped into referral base you have. After all, we don’t want to bother people we know with our business, do we? To that I say, “Bull!”

There are no better fans than those people who know your character, your trustworthiness and your commitment to helping others. However, most investors have a difficult time contacting these people and soliciting their help. I believe you should create a list of everyone in your life you know. And when I say, “know,” I am only referring to those people you can call on the telephone or send an e-mail to. I am not talking about the acquaintances we have in our lives, like the postal worker or the teacher of our children. The people you want to contact are in what’s called your ”Sphere of Influence.”

Here is an example of a partial list of your Sphere of Influence.

Mary Smith 1324 South Emery Street Bakersfield Ca 93308 661-555-4854 Sister
Mark Smith 1324 South Emery Street Bakersfield CA 93308 661-555-4854 Brother-in-Law
Fred Williams 514 Bruce Street Bakersfield CA 93314 661-555-7878 Attorney
Melba Jones 1001 A Street Bakersfield Ca 93301 661-555-0114 Mom’s Friend
Leonard Curtis 87415 Rosedale Hwy Bakersfield Ca 93314 661-555-3526 Accountant

Again, your list should include everyone you can call or e-mail. No matter what your relationship is to the person, if they will know you by name, then put them on your list of people you know. One note: only put people on your list who live in the city in which you plan to buy houses. Asking Grandma, who happens to live two states away, to refer you to her friends will not be the highest and best use of this marketing program. With that said, everyone else will be.

The following are examples of types of people who could be in your Sphere of Influence.

• mother and mother-in-law
• father and father-in-law
• brothers
• sisters
• former and current brothers-in-law
• former and current sisters-in-law
• past and present CPA
• past and present attorney
• past and present real estate agent
• landlord
• hair dresser
• manicurist
• massage therapist
• workout trainer
• tailor
• pool service rep
• gardener
• doctor
• all members of a charity organization you might belong to
• church members you know
• anyone you have donated money to—ever
• co-workers
• former co-workers
• former employers
• current employer
• current customers of your current job (be sure to first get approval from your supervisor)
• former customers
• drinking/social buddies
• college friends
• high school friends

You can see that the list can go on and on. I will caution you not to prejudge anyone that comes to mind as being someone who will not be receptive to your new endeavor. Everyone changes, and if four years ago you didn’t have the best of relationship with them, so what. Don’t let that stop you from including them.

Once you have established a list of people who know you, you do two things to the people on your list. One, you will mail them a letter with 10 business cards and secondly, you will telephone them and tell them about your new career.

Here is a sample of the type of letter you should send:


I am excited to announce the establishment of my new business, [Your Business Name] here in [Your City]. After careful consideration and extensive study, I’ve found the one thing that I enjoy and can make a difference with – Real Estate Investing. The opportunity to help people who may need to sell their houses is a worthy endeavor and the rewards are endless.

I understand that jump-starting my career is of great importance and I am counting on you for your support.

One of the first rules of business is that referred customers are the key to success, as these people are much more likely to do business than those who don’t know anything about me. I put together a list of people who I felt I could count on to help me succeed, and I had no doubt that you would want to be included in this process. And, it doesn’t come without reward to you. Although I know that you would not want something in return for helping me, I’m excited to be able to offer you $500 for every referral whose house I buy. This is for your time in telling others about what I do.

So if you would, when you hear of someone who is looking to sell their house, just give them one of my business cards and at the same time, gather their telephone number and name, and then call me with that information. I am hoping that won’t be too much trouble. I would certainly appreciate it. To make this all the easier, I have already written your name on the back of each card.

My business will cater to people who need to sell for a number of reasons.
• Trying to buy a new house and need to sell
• Divorce
• Foreclosure
• Probate issues
• Job Transfers
• Tired of being a landlord
• Bankruptcy
• Any other reason someone may have

Thank you for your help, and I appreciate your friendship and support.


[Your Name}
[Business Name]
[Telephone Number]

You will mail this letter immediately upon the completion of your list, and include 10 business cards with the recipient’s name on the back. Take the time to respect their time by writing their name on the cards. They will appreciate it, and when you ask a seller who referred you, he/she be able to tell you and you’ll be able to reward your referrer.

Again, the second thing you will do is call the names on your list by telephone and let them know of your new endeavor.

The following is a simple conversational script to use as a guide:

Hi [name] this is [your name]! [You may have to remind them who you are by referencing someone or something. Once you know that they know who you are, continue as follows:]

Question: I hope all is well with you and your family.

Answer: They’re doing great….

Statement: They’re doing great… Outstanding!
[Always repeat what they say with a positive or negative follow-up word.]

Statement: I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I wanted to tell you about a new endeavor I’ve started. I have researched and been studying the real estate market and have started investing in single-family houses.

Statement: My company’s name is called [your company] and I’m going to be working with people who need to sell their home for a variety of reasons: divorce, foreclosure, probate, job transfers, people tired of being a landlord… basically anyone needing to sell a house.

Statement: I was hoping to count on you for a reference if you happen to come across anyone needing to sell.

Statement: I’ve sent you a few of my business cards and a letter to [their address] outlining what I’m doing. If you would read it over when you get it, that would be great. And if you have any questions please give me a call back.

From there, just have a normal conversation with them. Be prepared for them to ask you about the market.

Note: Any of their negative feedback response will be great practice for when you come face-to-face with sellers, so use every opportunity that presents itself to you. In other words, turn lemons into lemonade!

I recommend that you call these people monthly and ask them for referrals. Sending a letter once or making one telephone call will not reinforce your new career. So take the time and energy, and call. Besides, these are people in your Sphere of Influence and most likely would like to hear from you.

The second type of person will be your acquaintances, those people that you come in contact with on a daily or weekly basis but don’t really socialize with or know that well.

The following is a list of that type of person.

• bank teller
• grocer
• child’s school teacher
• pest control technician
• air conditioning tech
• auto mechanic
• person in your office complex
• receptionist at your gym
• postal carrier
• gardener
• parking attendant
• computer tech

Talking to Acquaintances

Your acquaintances will not be as enthusiastic about referring people to you as your group of people who you know well. You have to strike up, at least, a light-hearted relationship with them. I am not saying you have to become good buddies, but it is important that there is a sense of respect and reciprocity. A few kind gestures or words will go a long way. A cold soda given to your gardener on a hot day will bring big rewards.

When approaching these acquaintances, remember that their sense of loyalty and commitment to you is less than those in your Sphere of Influence. I have found the easiest way to broach the conversation of referrals is to start taking about their family.

The conversation should go something like this:
Question: I hope all is well with you and your family.

Answer: They’re doing great….

Statement: They’re doing great… Outstanding…

[Note: Always repeat what they say with a positive follow-up word (or a negative one if appropriate, like if someone has a cold or something.]

Statement: I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I wanted to tell you about a real estate program I have that could make you some extra money.

Statement: I’ve started investing in single-family houses, and I’m offering to anyone I know who refers me to a home seller that I end up buying from, a $500 referral fee.

Statement: I work with people who need to sell their houses for a verity of reasons: divorce, foreclosure, probate, job transfers, people tired of being a landlord, anyone needing to sell a house.

Statement: And I was hoping to count on you for a reference if you happen to come across anyone needing to sell.

Statement: Here are a few of my business cards. If you would pass them out to anyone you know who may need to sell their home, that would be great. Just write your name and number on the backs of the cards so I can make sure you get your $500 referral fee.

The script is different from the Sphere of Influence in that these people don’t necessarily know you very well, and you don’t have to tell them that this is a new venture for you like you will with people that know what you have been doing. Coming from a position of knowledge is more powerful than coming from that of a learning stage, so choose your wording wisely.

Also, reiterate to these people monthly what you do and your offer of the $500 referral fee.

Now we’re to the type of person that you don’t know.

You Never Know Who You’re Talking To

Never assume that someone is not worth promoting yourself and your services to. Even if a person doesn’t own a house or isn’t considering selling, they may very well know someone who is, or they may want to sell some day down the road, themselves.

Strike Up a Conversation

Most people are terrified to talk sales with others, especially people we don’t know. This is mostly because they know that they are going to have to ask people to part with their hard-earned money, their most valuable possession of survival. I’m not going to get into whether you should or shouldn’t try to hard-sell people in this e-book, only that there’s an easy-to-confront way of promoting yourself without having to ask others to give you anything. In fact, as I mention above, you actually give them something (the Birddog Fee).

Small talk is the easiest form of communication there is. It’s light, it finds itself in much agreement with both parties and is rather enjoyable. And through the right small talk, you can open doors to recruiting more allies.

If you’re at the health club, for instance, riding a bike; make eye contact with your neighboring health enthusiast. Just find a point of commonality and blurt it out. There are so many ways to do this: you can start with a joke, a question or a comment that you think they might agree with:

JOKE: “And we do this why?”

QUESTION: “How far do you ride?”

COMMENT: “I can’t believe how out of shape I am!” or (if it’s busy at the club) “It’s so hard to get a bike at this time of the day.” Or (if it’s slow) “It’s so much nicer here at this time. You can get a bike no problem.”

These are all very real and inviting comments that allow others to start talking to you. The trick is to look for a point of commonality and go with it.

If you’re standing in a long line somewhere and it’s taking forever to get through, look at the person behind you and say, “I always seem to choose the slowest line,” or if you have a full basket, say “I only came in for one item.” These kinds of icebreakers are magical in getting others to be willing to talk to you. (They might even instantly come to like you!) And once they respond, the door has been opened for you to easily give them your business cards. They will willingly take them, and they will willingly hand them out.

If people acquire a good feeling about you, they are likely to feel good about recommending you to their friends and acquaintances. It takes but a comment or two to impress upon another that you’re a nice person. Once you’ve done that, hand your cards and tell them of your commission program. It’s that simple.

I challenge you to hand out 10 sets of three business cards everyday, Monday through Friday, to people you come in contact with. I know, you’d rather not talk to 10 people you don’t know. What’s worse, they don’t know you either. It can be a bit difficult to accomplish. However, real estate investing is an extremely profitable venture, and those profits don’t knock your door down on their own; they must be earned. Just think of your business cards as seeds that must be planted in order to reap the harvest.

Here is a list of what this type of person looks like. I know it’s a short list, but it’s extensive in its scope:

• All females you see
• All males you see

It is that simple! Learn to strike up a conversation with strangers and you will be rewarded handsomely. Perfecting this trait will also give you incredible confidence when communicating with sellers and negotiating reduced house prices.

One more suggestion: when you send someone a referral fee check, always include five or six more business cards.

Okay, you know why and how to hand out business cards; now let’s take a look at what your cards should communicate.

Have Some FUN

Great post Michael!!!

I am honestly not sure if there are lists that you can purchase with regularly updated court info. Since you have advertising money, hire someone else to do it. See if the current court clerk will email you updates, or hire a high-school kid or a stay-at-home parent.


Hello All.

Excellent material. Do you have or recommend any “scripts”, specifically for door-knocking pre-foreclosure prospects? What time of day is best?

Do you mail then go door knock…?

Hope this isnt too far off topic. Thank you all for your input.


I dont door knock with the exception of the 11 doors prior to the appointment… And I do have the scripts for talking to PreForeclosures


I’m a Realtor with a ton of education (ABR, GRI, CRS, VIP, EPRO, etc…) and to be honest, your post in this forum is one of the best written that I’ve seen. Most agents pay hundreds, no, thousands of dollars for advice like you just passed along at no expense to everyone. OUTSTANDING JOB…

Ken Tate (a.k.a. Mr. Real Estate)


That was extremely valuable material and I firmly believe that I will use this advice for as long as I am in business. I am a “card pusher” already and I always hand people 5-10 cards when I meet them and tell them if they know someone who needs help, or could utilize my services to have them give me a call. I also always pay a referral fee for a closed deal.

As far as the question for obtaining lists for a price there are a couple companies that may be able to help you: , and try these guys they have helped me extensively in advertising my mortgage broker services to potential clients here in Mass,NH, and ME