mans hand stacking change with words list stacking 101 for real estate investors

Tap into any real estate forum online, and you’ll hear wholesalers, house flippers, and other real estate investors use the term “list stacking” in reference to finding motivated seller leads.

However, there is often real confusion about what exactly list stacking is, why you would stack a list, and how to do it.

In addition, even when that is addressed, often unanswered is the question of what are the most effective list stacking combinations for wholesaling?

In other words, what list stacking method will net you the most highly motivated sellers.

Read on to find out.


What is List Stacking in Real Estate

You can try to convince just about anyone to sell you their property quickly. However, some owners will have more reasons to sell than others.

Such examples could be a landlord with an empty property, or a person who just inherited a house that they don’t want. These reasons are called motivating factors.

Knowing this, creative real estate wholesaling investors will obtain lists of sellers with specific motivating factors from list providers or public records office, often in the form of spreadsheets that are downloadable.

Custom list stacking in real estate investing, is the process of combining lists of owners with motivating factors, and then identifying those property owners who appear on more than one list.


Why Do List Stacking

The most compelling reason to stack a list is that every additional motivating factor that a property owner matches to, greatly increases the likelihood of them wanting to sell to you.

In addition, being able to target a very specific subset of motivated sellers means that you can tighten up your marketing materials to create copy that truly “speaks” to those sellers.

Finally, simply stated, you save money. By not buying lists that contain many people who might be motivated, and instead only paying for lists that have very motivated sellers, you can tuck away those extra dollars you saved, to do additional marketing.

Convinced? Let’s talk about the two different ways that you can approach list stacking to identify a motivated seller when wholesaling real estate.


How to Stack Lists

There are several ways to get a concise list of seller leads with multiple motivation factors, some easier than others.


Combining Spreadsheets

The first way requires either obtaining physical spreadsheet lists of property owners from public records offices in your area, or purchasing multiple spreadsheets from an online list provider.

Such spreadsheets are often used in list management systems — a catch-all phrase for any type of property list manager where you sort and edit lists of data. They often have to be installed on your laptop or desktop, although cloud-based models may be available.

Then, you combine those multiple spreadsheets with different criteria together, somehow patching unique data together into separate columns.

After that is done, you highlight the cells with duplicate owners, and comb through the spreadsheets to note which owners are on more than one list.

After all of that, you’re still not done: You can’t start marketing to those owners until you have their contact information – phone numbers and possibly email address.

You would then need to send your final spreadsheet of owners to be skip-traced and returned to you.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is. Thankfully, there are much more precise, and certainly faster, ways.


Online List Stacking Tools

The second way is to use an online list stacking tool for lead generation. This functionality is sometimes featured in software that pulls public records data.

There are different levels of list stacking software:

An entry-level internet cloud-based list stacking tool instantly combines records that match to the multiple criteria that you specify and then generates a list of property owners.

Some better list stacking software will also skip trace the owners at the time of purchase, so that you can start marketing to them immediately.

Finally, the most highly rated real estate wholesaling software, such as REI/kit, will do all of the above and also import your list results into a property list manager database or, preferably, a CRM –  with no need to download or save any data to your computer.

Now, as promised, let’s reveal the most effective list stacking combination.


Best List Stacking Criteria Combination

Absentee (Out of State) + Vacant

What makes this list stacking combination pure gold if you are wholesaling houses?

It will return owners with three motivation factors: Absentee owners, out of state owners, and vacant property owners.

They are absentee owners: An absentee owner is a property owner where the mailing address is different than the property address. For example, landlords who do not live on the property.

They live out of state: Absentee owners can have a mailing address in the same state that their property lies, or they can live in a different state. Out of state absentee owners are doubly motivated, as they are not in close proximity to the property.

The property lies vacant: Vacant property is that for which mail cannot be delivered and is being returned, meaning that there is no known occupancy. Such homes may be abandoned, with an owner who may not want to care for the property.

Vacancy is the #1 most important motivation factor of all, with an increased chance of landing a wholesale real estate deal.

Vacancy is the #1 most important motivation factor of all, with an increased chance of landing a wholesale real estate deal. Click To Tweet


To stack this list:

Combine the Absentee Only (Out of State) filter, and the Vacant Only property filter:



Note: You can also exclude Trust Owned and exclude Corporate Owned properties to exclude family trusts and bank-owned properties.

One important item to keep in mind as you do your list stacking, is that every criteria that you add o­­­­n, reduces the number of owners who match to all of the criteria combined.

The resulting list is low in quantity, but highly concentrated with motivated sellers.


Below are two bonus list stacking combinations:


High Equity + Absentee

Here we have 2 motivation factors – Equity, and the owner is Absentee:

High Equity: Owners with Equity above 50% (LTV Ratio 50% or less) are likely going to experience a windfall when they sell, simply because the profit from the sale may be substantially more than the mortgage.

You may be able to negotiate with these owners a lower price for their property, because it may be more cash than they expected to walk away with.

Absentee: These owners could be tired landlords, or own vacation homes or other. In either case, they could be ready to cash out.


To stack this list:

Enter a maximum LTV of 50%, and combine that with the Only Absentee (Out of State) filter.


Absentee Out of State High Equity List Stack


Empty Nester

Empty nesters may not often turn out to be distressed motivated sellers, however they are motivated by life events, such as needing to downsize after their kids move out of the family residence.

To stack this list, select the following criteria:

Single Family Residence and Condo Only (No Multi)

Absentee: Non-Absentee Only

Vacancy: Occupied Only

Bedrooms: 3+

Household ages: 45-64 years old

Length of Residence: 5+ years

People in Household: 2 persons

Adults in Household: 2 Adults


Empty nester list stacking criteria


Wrapping Up

In this article, you learned about list stacking for real estate wholesalers and other investors: what list stacking is, why you would stack multiple lists, and the two most common methods used to stack lists.

In addition, the best list stacking combination was revealed.

Now, with a little creativity, you can create your own effective combinations for list stacking, to find more highly motivated seller leads and start marketing to them today.



Interested in stacking motivated seller leads quickly and efficiently with software?

REI/kit’s best in class, cloud-based real estate wholesaling and investing software gets you stacked motivated seller leads in minutes:

Stack all of the owner motivation criteria combinations in this article in REI/kit’s Lead Lists tool

Choose from 8 types of pre-stacked combinations in Quick Create mode, like the Empty Nester combination above


Stack your own build easily with 85 unique criteria from extensive geographic, owner type, property, value & equity, mortgage, and demographic data

Learn more about the Lead Lists tool by clicking here, or just jump straight to a trial of REI/kit: