You may be reading this at work on Monday morning thinking there must be any easier way of making a living.I can tell you there is. I secured my financial freedom at the ripe old age of 37. It didn’t happen over night though. A decade of hard work aided by a housing boom eventually secured me the financial FREEDOM that I so desperately wanted. How did I achieve this?Landlords make their money when they buy, not necessarily when they sell. That is to say that a landlord’s secret to making a fast and substantial profit is by buying their residential investment property at below what would generally be considered Market Value.A landlord should therefore always be an opportunist by instinct. When looking for a new investment property they should look to view many properties before they are likely to secure the right residential investment property at the right price.Opportunities of the credit crunchLike any so called financial crisis one person’s misfortune is likely to be somebody else’s golden step up.I myself have bought several properties from motivated sellers:executors selling deceased persons propertyone individual who’s business was ‘going down the pan’a repossessiona husband selling after a divorcea man who needed to move back to ScotlandAll these have turned out to be great property buying opportunities.In the press I have recently seen several stories featuring firms who specialise in buying properties from distressed sellers often before they are repossessed or because the owner needs the money to pay off other debts. These companies often offer to let the property to the former owner once they take possession. I examine below some of the techniques involved in securing below market property from motivated sellers.Techniques for landlords buying from motivated sellersThe techniques involved in highlighting motivated sellers are not difficult but do involve some work by the landlord. In essence the more work a landlord puts in, the better the opportunity they are likely to uncover.A motivated seller is a property owner who needs to sell fast and therefore are likely to be prepared to sell their property below it’s true value. Motivated sellers are likely to want to sell for a number of reasons; some of the common ones are as follows:The owner has died and the residential property is sitting empty.The relatives or the executor is just looking to get ridThe owner has some financial problems and therefore needs to sell to raise funds or pay off a debtThe owner needs to move quickly because they are relying on the funds to secure another propertyThe owner just wants rid so that they can move on – they are emigrating or involved in a relationship break upThe secret for any landlord looking for a motivated seller is that they need to get as close to the sellers to find out what motivates them so that they can arrange the deal that best suites their circumstances.A motivated seller will often become more motivated to sell the longer the sale process has been going on for and also at certain times of the year from December to February when the market is at its quietest and buying interest the lowest.How can a landlord locate these motivated sellers?There are a number of ways a landlord can identify motivated sellers. This is where the greater the effort of the landlord to unearth a property investment bargain, the more chance they will be able to source one and the better the investment opportunity they will unearth will be:1. leaflet drop- identify a target area for potential properties and then post leaflets advertising to buy property and rent them back to the owner who becomes your tenant.2. estate agents- contact all the local estate agents in the area that you want to buy in and let them know that you are looking for bargains and that you are a potential cash buyer of residential investment property. Even if you just have a forward buying facility you should be able to flush out some bargains. Remember it is persistency that gets results – make it clear to agents that you want to buy now and that you as the landlord have the resources. This way you as a landlord should get the pick of the bargains.3. advertise – landlords should look at advertising in the local press, a small add in one of these should generate some potential leads4. networking – tell as many people as you know about what you do and that you will look at any property at the right price – the message soon gets around5. newsagent windows – a card in the window of a local newsagent is likely to be seen by a surprising number of peopleHow do I negotiate a bargain?All this is likely to generate considerable potential opportunities that you as the landlord will need to follow up. Where off market situations are involved, i.e. ones where the property is not on the market through an estate agent; always look to ascertain what the circumstances are of the buyer before mentioning a price. Remember, the old adage ‘he who mentions the price looses’. Always start low with any negotiations and then work up, it is virtually impossible to get the best deal the other way round.The rest is up to you as the landlord to use your negotiating skills to secure a property investment bargain to start or add to your buy-to-let investment portfolio.I have no problem with sourcing a property bargain. I do however know of an increasing number of companies that specialise in buying properties from distressed sellers. The sellers are often vulnerable people in difficult emotional, economic situations and not always the ‘sharpest knives in the block’. The companies that specialise in these acquisitions often exploit the frailties of these unfortunate individuals. I have the financial muscle and the experience to do this but one reason I will never be a property billionaire is that I don’t want be a property vulture. I would always encourage landlords to do all they can to be a property hawk and hunt down a residential investment bargain.I still think it’s possible for a landlord with hard work to be able to; source buy-to-let investment bargains, build a property portfolio, secure their financial freedom and still to be able to sleep at night.