How to Find an Off-Market Home in San Diego, CA


|10 min read

Click here to browse our Real Estate Agent Directory and contact top-rated agents in your area!

Finding off-market homes in competitive real estate markets, like San Diego CA, is incredibly tough. Real estate values continue to reach unimaginable amounts in different California cities. These high-valued properties are shiny objects that investors continue to chase. Demand is outpacing supply, creating a very competitive real estate landscape. For many real estate investors, it feels like the only way to purchase an investment property where the numbers actually pencil out is to get it outside of the MLS. Here are several actionable tips to help you find your next off-market home in San Diego, CA.

1. Join Wholesaler Buyer Lists

Wholesalers play a huge role in off-market real estate transactions in Southern California. In major cities, like Los Angeles and San Diego, wholesalers make up a large amount of the off-market deals that happen. If you are trying to find more off-market properties in San Diego, start networking with these real estate professionals.

Most reputable wholesalers have a list of buyers that you can join. Once they get an off-market deal under contract, they will send you the information on it. You’ll have the opportunity to make an offer and purchase the deal. Many of these properties never touch the market. This is a great opportunity for you to get a home in San Diego under contract for a decent price.

Of course, not all real estate professionals are made equal, especially wholesalers. Before working with anyone, make sure to vet them. Are they doing consistent, off-market deals in San Diego? There are tons of fly-by-night characters that try to “do real estate deals with no money down.” Ideally, find a few wholesalers that are credible in San Diego and join their buyers’ list. This will increase the amount of off-market homes that come across your desk.

>>MORE: Everything you need to know about home buying

2. Direct Mail

Call it old-fashioned, but it works! Direct mail has been around for centuries. This marketing channel allows you to reach out directly to homeowners who may want to sell. It’s a numbers game. Successful direct mail campaigns usually have large budgets.

Direct mail can be a great source of off-market leads in San Diego if you do it over long periods of time. You can get lucky by sending out one or two campaigns of mailers, but don’t expect to hit it big right away.

Bill Gassett, owner of Maximum Real Estate Exposure, shared some valuable tips based on his years of experience as a Realtor.

“Finding non-MLS properties in a low inventory environment is challenging but possible. A few methods can increase your odds of finding that diamond in the rough that few people know is available. Frankly, it is about being more aggressive than others.

Direct mail marketing is one of the best strategies I have employed for my clients over the years. You mail all the homes in a neighborhood with a personalized letter explaining your interest in purchasing and how appealing you find their neighborhood and home. Sometimes, a potential seller takes the bait. You never know if someone is contemplating a sale. Timing is everything in real estate.

The other tip is to speak to property managers. They often know about properties that may soon be on the market.”

For anyone trying to find off-market homes in San Diego, direct mail could be your key to success. Unlike different real estate advertising methods, like cold calling, it’s a quality over quantity type of strategy. Not many people will call you back after receiving your postcard or handwritten letter, but the ones that do are likely high-quality leads. Nurture any leads that call in from your mailer – and soon, you’ll find yourself negotiating over price to hopefully secure your next off-market property in San Diego, CA.

>>DISCOVER: How to write a compelling letter to the seller

3. Attend Real Estate Meetups

You never know who you will meet at a real estate meetup in San Diego. Oftentimes, wholesalers, agents, and house flippers attend these meetings with an off-market home that they are trying to move. Their hope is that they’ll connect with another investor or someone who would be interested in it.

These meetups can be goldmines for finding off-market houses in San Diego, CA. Especially if the group is more intimate, you can get lucky on a deal before it gets close to touching the market. However, not all real estate meetups are worth attending.

Review what the topic is for a specific meeting. Certain ones won’t be relevant to you trying to find an off-market home. Others will be centered around off-market real estate deals and connecting professionals within the space. These are the ones worth attending! You can use platforms like to find investor meetings in San Diego. That will help you find your next off-market home.

>>LEARN: Networking tips for real estate agents

4. Door Knocking

Another method for finding off-market homes in San Diego is putting your feet to the pavement to knock doors. This marketing strategy is another channel that goes direct-to-seller. While it may seem old-school, door-knocking works well today in many real estate markets.

Why is that? Door knocking is hard and takes effort – that’s likely why most people avoid it. Getting a ‘no’ or a door slammed in your face isn’t fun to deal with. However, there’s a way to make door-knocking more refined and worthwhile.

Similar to direct mail, door knocking is all about consistency. Also, if you can knock on the right doors, it will increase your success rate. Use data to your advantage when deciding where to door knock.

For example, if there is a house that is on multiple lists that could be considered ‘pain points’ or ‘reasons to sell’, it could be worth knocking on their door and seeing if they have plans to sell in the future. Some homeowners may have recently gotten divorced or are behind on payments. Things like this could cause them to want to sell soon. These are the types of doors you want to knock on when trying to find your next off-market home in San Diego.

>>MORE: 7 Reasons why you need a Realto

Your Agent Can Help

Finding a house is a challenging process. From dilapidated homes to homes outside the budget to simply no homes that fit your criteria, it can feel frustrating. It’s essential to find a balance between having patience in the home search and aggressively searching for a home.

Finding an off-market home in San Diego may be your best bet for meeting your home-owning goals. It’s critical to find a well-connected agent who understands your eagerness to purchase a home.

We’ve got you covered with expert agents. Discover your perfect fit today.

Alex Capozzolo Craig Sanger Realty

Alex is a realtor, landlord, and investor in San Diego, CA. He owns 17 rental units and toggles between being a landlord and a realtor. Alex has been blogging for the real estate industry for +5 years. During his downtime, he enjoys surfing, hiking, and journaling.

You may also be interested in...

questions to ask a mortgage lender

20 Important Questions to Ask a Mortgage Lender

Many homebuyers know how important it is to interview multiple Realtors before hiring the best one; however, … read more

how to buy a house in probate

How to Buy a House in Probate?

If the owner of a property recently passed away, then the house is likely in probate. This is the court s… read more

how to find out who owns a property

How to Find Out Who Owns a Property

There are many reasons why someone would want to learn who owns a specific property. As a buyer, you might wa… read more

How to Write a Winning Real Estate Offer in Massachusetts

Click here to browse our Real Estate Agent Directory and contact top-rated agents in your area! The Massac… read more