Using Direct Mail To Find Motivated Sellers.
Direct mail marketing campaigns are one of the best strategies for finding motivated sellers for your real estate business, hands down! But you need to know how to do it correctly to make it work for you. Whether or not your real estate business will be successful, will depend entirely on your ability to generate a steady stream of leads.
Here are some tips for making the best use of this very effective marketing strategy known as direct mail marketing.
Finding Motivated Sellers
I have been using direct mail campaigns in my businesses for almost 20 years. For the past 3 years I have been using direct mail campaigns almost exclusively to drive motivated seller leads to my wholesaling business. Without a doubt, it still works like a charm. While I do use other marketing methods for my business, it is by far the best long term strategy that I have found.
Recently I put a house under contract from an absentee owner that I have been marketing to for 2 ½ years. She has gotten a letter from me every couple of months like clockwork since January of 2008. When she called me several weeks ago, I recognized her name. It wasn’t until I looked her up in my database, that I knew the exact date my mailings to her had started. I knew I had a motivated seller!
Be Willing To Go the Distance
Having a motivated seller call me after this much time as a result of a direct mail campaign, might seem unlikely so some folks. When I speak to other real estate investors, they will often talk about their marketing programs. For the most part they indicate that they send out a few letters to each person on their mailing list over a span of a few months. If they have not bought a house after a handful of direct mail campaigns, they quit mailing to that particular seller. What a mistake! Some of them even through in the towel completely on direct mail campaigns.
The Proof Is In the Results
It has been said that 80% of your results will come after 4 or more mailings. I believe that is absolutely the case. The person that is not a motivated seller today, may very well be a motivated seller in the future. Something of major importance will change in this persons’ life.
In my case, the seller lives on the west coast which is a long way from where the house is located. She purchased the house in 1998 for her brother and paid cash. He lived there until he passed away. The house was then occupied by tenants that moved out taking some of their belongings (leaving the rest) that also managed to trash the house. At the time she contacted me, the house had been vacant for about a year and she is now a very motivated seller. Not only was the house trashed, but there is a fair amount of deferred maintenance.
After the tenant moved out, she spent a few months thinking about repairing the house and listing it with a Realtor to recoup her original investment. In the end, she just decided she wanted to be rid of the problem without spending any more money. She sold the property to me for 50% of what she originally paid for the house.
Keeping the Marketing Machine Going
The single most important thing you need know about direct mail marketing for motivated sellers, is that it must be an ongoing process. I typically mail to each group of absentee owners about every 8-10 weeks. My goal is to mail to them every eight weeks. I have to admit, sometimes I get a little behind and it might be a little closer to 10 weeks. The only time I take a seller off my mailing list is if I buy the house or they ask to be removed. I cannot tell you how many times I have bought a house after mailing to an absentee owner for 1-2 years. Just remember that the person that is not a motivated seller today, may be very motivated due to a change in circumstances in the future.
You information is extremely helpful. My husband and I have flipped a lot of houses and would like to market to absentee owners as well as probates more regularly. I would love to see your sample letters and postcards that you mention above in your responses to Anthony. Where would I find them on your site or could you send them to me. Also can you recommend a list company that you have had success with for contacts/addresses?
Robin – I use PC’s from yellowletters.com for absentee owners. If you want to use my affiliate code you can save 5% — Promo Code vornholt5. I use the PC with a lot of black on it.
I will send you a sample probate letter. You just have to change it up to make a few more. You can say — I was just checking in to see how settling the estate is coming along etc.
Anthony – I am looking into ClickToMail. You have to get access to your tax assessor’s site; that how everyone looks up properties.
As I said before I am changing everything up now. You have to list their problems:
Does this sound like you?
-inherited a house you don’t want
-forced to relocate
Then provide a solution:
We will buy your house for CASH AS IS..
Solve their painful solution.
Thanks again. So you used to use click2mail ? What’s your opinion of their services and prices ?
I am calling the county to see if I am missing something, and their is a way that I can do online searches under a person’s name for any properties they have.
As far as the AO postcards, what are some key points that with your years of experience that you have found to be the most effective, as far as the best things to print on the postcards to move them to a call of action? I do have your Awesome AO marketing letter, but obviously not all of that fits onto a postcard.
Can you get additional info such as the address if you have some type of paid subscription to the PVA? You must have the address. Here you can search by name or property address on the tax assessor’s site?
I am still in the process of working with Rocket Print and Mail. You can get free samples from them. If you contact them, they will send them to you. I won’t have anything to report on that company for a couple of months. The reason for sending the same PC to absentee owners is for branding. It needs to be the same every time pretty much.
I don’t send to probates with spouses. I just put a return address on the letter (no business name) and always hand address the envelope.
WOW, Very impressive quick response!!! Awesome ! Lets see if I have this right.
Probates: Mail every 4-6 weeks.
1st mailing = Your first letter “offering condolences”.
2nd mailing = “I wanted to check in to see how you are coming settling the estate”.
3rd mailing = “I wanted to check in to see how you are coming settling the estate”.
4th mailing = “You must be getting close to getting the estate closed”.
5th mailing = “You must be getting close to getting the estate closed”.
My County Probate filings legal NP online provide the Personal Rep Name & Address, The Deceased Name, And NO address for the Deceased. I went to the county website to check and see if the deceased had property within the probate, and I am not able to search under the Deceased Name (Only PID & Address). What would you recommend to confirm what probates have properties or not?
– You also remove probates with properties that have spouses?
– Hand writing the envelope?
– What’s your opinion of leaving the return address blank to create curiosity?
Absentee Owners: Mail every 4-6 weeks, like Probates? or?
– With the: RocketPrintandMail.com for the Yellow postcards with black lettering, Do you have a sample of what you send?
– Do you always do yellow postcards for all subsequent mailings?
– Do you say the same things in every mailing, or do you switch it up like Probates?
I really do appreciate your advice, Have a great night.
thanks soo much Sharon.
Great article, very informative. I am very excited about starting my new marketing methods that I have learned from you. I have chosen Probates & Absentee. I downloaded your 5 forms. Just want to clarify in your opinion, with your marketing, what works best for the best results?
For Probates, I will use the professional probate form letter that I downloaded from you. For the subsequent mailings, what do you mail to them? same letter? If not, What would you recommend for all the subsequent mailings? I remember you saying always a professional letter, never postcards with Probates.
For Absentees, I also have an absentee form letter from you. What do you suggest for all the subsequent mailings? I know you have mentioned a yellow postcard for absentee? Is this yellow postcard on your site? Do you send the same postcard every 8 – 10 weeks, or?
Thanks in advance for your help. I just want to start in the most advantageous way that I can.
I use the white letter you have and then just change it up. Instead of saying the part about condolences say “I wanted to check in to see how you are coming settling the estate”. Next you might say, “You must be getting close to getting the esatate closed” etc.
After the 1st letter, just repeat the 2nd letter a couple of times. The same is true of the other letters. Just repeat them. I tweak them so I have about 5. You only need to change up the first part.
I have switched to postcards for my AO mailings. It’s cheaper and they do the work if you use someone like RocketPrintandMail.com. You can also upload your list to click to mail.
Believe it or not, those ugly yellow postcards with black lettering work the best. I have tried fancy cards without success.
You should mail ideally every 4 weeks; no more than 6 weeks if you can afford that. If you wait too long between mailings, there is a good chance someone else will jump in there with their mailing and get the house.