What Are Illiquid Stocks and How Do You Buy Them?

Illiquid stocks are a unique category that demands careful consideration from investors. Low trading volume characterises them, meaning fewer shares are bought and sold daily than more liquid stocks.

This scarcity of active trading can lead to greater price volatility and may pose challenges in terms of entering or exiting positions without significantly affecting the stock price.

Understanding the nuances of illiquid stocks is crucial for any investor considering this investment avenue. In this post, we will explore the defining characteristics of illiquid stocks, why they exist, and the implications for investors.

What is an Illiquid Stocks?

Illiquid stocks are shares of a company that are traded in low volumes, which makes it difficult to buy or sell them quickly in the share market. These stocks have limited market activity, with fewer buyers and sellers. This lack of liquidity can be attributed to various factors, such as smaller market capitalisation, limited public interest, or restrictions on trading.

Investors holding illiquid stocks may face challenges finding potential buyers or sellers, resulting in wider bid-ask spreads and increased price volatility.

Investors must carefully consider a stock’s illiquidity before investing, as it may impact their ability to enter or exit positions efficiently. To invest in stocks and navigate the share market, individuals are often advised to open a demat account, which provides a secure and convenient way to hold and trade securities electronically.

Examples of Liquid and Illiquid Assets

Examples of liquid assets in India include highly traded stocks of large-cap companies listed on major stock exchanges, namely NSE and BSE. These stocks are actively bought and sold, making it easy for investors to convert them into cash quickly without significantly impacting their market value.

Blue-chip stocks of well-established companies with high market capitalisation, such as Reliance Industries or HDFC Bank, are typically considered liquid assets.

On the other hand, illiquid assets in the Indian context can include shares of small-cap or mid-cap companies with low trading volumes.

These stocks may have limited public interest and fewer buyers and sellers, making it challenging to buy or sell them promptly in the share market. Additionally, certain debt instruments or bonds, especially those issued by less-known entities, can also be illiquid assets due to their limited marketability.

Investors must understand the liquidity characteristics of different assets to make informed investment decisions. Illiquid assets may provide opportunities for higher returns, but they also come with increased risks and the potential difficulty of exiting positions quickly.

So, diversification and careful analysis of the liquidity profile of one’s investment portfolio are essential to manage risk effectively in the Indian share market.

How to Buy Illiquid Stocks?

  1. Research Thoroughly

    • Begin by conducting in-depth research on potential illiquid stocks. Analyse the company’s financials, read up on the latest news and updates, and understand the overall market conditions affecting the stock.

  2. Open a Demat Account

    • To trade in the Indian share market, opening a demat account is mandatory. This account will hold your securities electronically, facilitating a smoother transaction process and helping you manage your investment portfolio more effectively.

  3. Broker or Online Platform

    • Purchase illiquid stocks through a broker or via an online share market platform. Since these stocks may not be listed on major stock exchanges, explore alternative trading venues or specialised forums that handle such transactions.

  4. Exercise Patience

    • Prepare for a potentially longer process due to the low trading volume of illiquid stocks. Avoid making hasty decisions when entering or exiting positions, and set realistic expectations for the investment process.

Risks of Investing in Illiquid Stocks

  1. High Price Volatility

    • Illiquid stocks often exhibit higher price volatility due to their low trading volume. The lack of consistent market activity can lead to unpredictable price fluctuations.

  2. Wider Bid-Ask Spreads

    • The limited trading activity can result in wider bid-ask spreads, making executing trades at desired prices more challenging. This can affect both the buying and selling phases of investing.

  3. Difficulty in Executing Trades

    • The scarcity of buyers and sellers can lead to significant challenges in finding a trade partner, which might result in executing trades at less favourable prices and may impact the overall profitability of the investment.

  4. Long-term Commitment

    • Given the potential difficulties in quickly exiting positions due to low liquidity, investing in illiquid stocks often requires a long-term commitment and a well-thought-out exit strategy.

Key Indicators to Identify Illiquid Stocks

  1. Low Trading Volume

    • Low daily trading volume is one of the most straightforward indicators of an illiquid stock. Stocks with few shares traded each day are typically considered illiquid. Low volume suggests less interest in the stock from the market, making it difficult to buy or sell without significantly impacting the price.

  2. Limited Market Participants

    • Illiquid stocks often have fewer market participants. This means fewer buyers and sellers at any time, resulting in delayed transactions and difficulties finding a trading partner.

  3. Wide Bid-Ask Spreads

    • Check the bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the highest price a buyer is willing to pay (bid) and the lowest price a seller is willing to accept (ask). A wide bid-ask spread is a common feature of illiquid stocks. It indicates a significant difference between what buyers are willing to pay and what sellers are asking for.

  4. Price Volatility

    • Illiquid stocks can exhibit higher price volatility. Fewer shares are traded; even small trades can result in significant price changes. This volatility can be observed by looking at historical price charts; large, sporadic jumps might indicate low liquidity.

  5. Infrequent Price Quotes

    • If a stock often goes several minutes or longer without price quotes, it’s likely illiquid. This is visible in trading platforms where the time between price updates can be longer than in more liquid stocks.


Investing in illiquid stocks can be a high-risk, high-reward venture. Before making investment decisions, thoroughly research and understand the company and its financials.

Furthermore, they must have a long-term investment strategy and be prepared for potential market fluctuations. It’s important to seek guidance from a financial advisor before making significant decisions.

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