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off market land buying like a pro

By Kevin Harless

9 Steps to Mastering Off Market Land Buying like a Pro.

Nothing sends shivers down the spine of a potential self-storage investor like the words, “we need to find off-market land to buy.”  Even the most seasoned buyers are sometimes paralyzed at the thought. Never fear, finding off-market land is easier than you think and here are 9 tips to make even a rookie developer be able to find off-market deals like a pro.

Step1-Define Your Search Criteria: Clearly define your goals, budget (selling price), desired location, acreage/property size, zoning, population, traffic counts, etc. Be detailed and specific.

Step 2-Know Your Search Area: Before starting your search call the city/county planner in 3-6 cities within 1hour of your home and ask: What zones permit self-storage? How to access zoning maps, zoning regulation, and topography maps. Most will be available on a website.  

Step 3-Outline Your Search Area: Make a list of areas/streets on zoning map that permit self-storage. Then outline on the map for each city you are searching. 

Step 4-Leverage Technology: Use sites such as or  to navigate land parcels within your criteria and zoned areas that would work for your self-storage development. Also, using Googles nearby search tool can help in your search.

Step 5-Drive the Streets: Drive in your car in your zoned areas and main roads within each city. While driving look for for-sale signs, or bare land that fits your search criteria. Network with locals by handing out business cards and informing them of your search.

Step 6-Be Organized: Make a list of all property you determined in Step 4 and 5 and complete a brief review of each property to determine if you want to send a letter of intent to buy.

Step 7- Contact the Owner: Call and send letters and postcards to each property you intend to send an offer.

·         Call and Text the owner.

·         Send a letter week 1.

·         Send a postcard week 2.

·         Resend both postcard and letter at least 3 times.

·         Keep good records of each parcel’s stats, when contacted, and next time to contact.


Step 8- Walk the Land- Once an owner responds and says they would consider selling get permission to walk the land, walk the land, and then complete a thorough review before making any further offers.


Step 9- Make an Offer-Make an Offer on acceptable properties with an LOI or Contract approved by your attorney.

Key Tip: Be consistent. Create a written plan and track your plan. Be accountable.

In conclusion, mastering the art of off-market land search is not difficult, but it does require a plan, consistent work, and accountability to your plan. By diligently following these nine steps and remaining accountable to your plan, you will most certainly find success in your off-market land search. Happy hunting!

Kevin Harless is Development Director with Storage Authority Franchise, he is a resident of Dallas, Texas where he has spent the last fifteen years of his career in self-storage construction, management, and acquisition. Contact Kevin at or on Linkedin at, or read more of Kevin’s articles and blogs at


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